The business environment is changing at an exponential rate, and just as the world needs all kinds of minds to move it forward, so too does every organisation. As such, promoting diversity in the workplace is one of the topmost priorities for leaders and managers today, and one that is crucial to the ongoing growth and development of a business.
Diversity occurs at the intersection where every team member, from junior employees to leaders, brings their own unique experiences, backgrounds, abilities and perspectives to the table. It includes people of varying gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, languages, education, abilities, and everything in between. It also has numerous immediate and tangible benefits that tie directly to the company’s bottom line – and it’s reputation.
So, why is workplace diversity so important, and how can you effectively develop and maintain a more inclusive and enriching work environment for everyone?
The Impact of Diversity in the Workplace
Far from being a mere box-ticking exercise, diverse workforces are proven to have positive impacts on productivity, motivation, performance, company culture and customer experience. In short, it’s just good business sense!
Below are some of the key advantages that await you when you make diversity in the workplace a priority:
- Removing biases – Unconscious biases can stop you from hiring the best talent, anticipating emerging trends in the market and adopting new ideas. Companies with diverse teams are able to fight these biases very effectively by embracing a range of viewpoints and avoiding groupthink.
- Improving employee engagement and retention – When you promote inclusivity and equality in the workplace, your employees will feel happier and more comfortable, which translates to higher productivity, increased motivation, better team morale, improved performance and higher retention.
- Fostering creativity and innovation – When employees with different backgrounds and viewpoints come together, they tend to bring diverse solutions to the table in a shorter amount of time. They are also better able to recognise the potential impacts of different actions on the business, thereby improving the decision-making process as a whole and resulting in more informed choices.
- Allowing you to better understand and connect with your customers – In our globalised world, hiring a diverse team of employees who are representative of the market helps you overcome social and cultural barriers, access a broader client base and better understand the people you are selling to.
- Enhancing your brand – Reputation is vital across many spheres of business, and organisations dedicated to fostering diversity are viewed in a more positive light by potential employees, customers and investors.
- Providing access to a wider talent pool and leadership pipeline – By prioritising diversity within your business, you open the floodgates to a significantly larger talent pool with fresh skills and experience, which subsequently increases your chances of finding the right candidates for your needs (and keeping them for the long term).
How to Cultivate Diversity Within Your Organisation
Diversity can take a variety of forms, but regardless of whether you’re working at a small start-up or a large multinational corporation, you will benefit from cultivating inclusivity in your strategic, operational and cultural activities.
By implementing the following three tactics, you can fill up your workforce with more diverse and well-rounded talent:
1. Develop the future workforce
A key aspect of promoting diversity in your business is building a more diverse talent pipeline that will feed into your workforce. Focus on developing strong, meaningful relationships with diverse candidates, finding ways to engage with and attract new talent into the industry and providing opportunities for underrepresented groups. In doing so, your ability to bring diverse, high-quality candidates into your business – and keep them there – will grow significantly.
As an example, the Continuum team do this by engaging talent at the graduate level and aiding graduates in securing their first role within the industry:
- We are part of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Lucy Mentoring Program, which connects women studying Engineering or Technology to mentors across the industry.
- We work with UTS in promoting their Industry Studio initiative, enabling students to gain project-based experience before graduating.
- We are associated with the Wanago Program, encouraging high school students to study STEM subjects.
2. Promote workforce diversity
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to diversity, so don’t try to make your organisation look like anyone else’s. Be open to trying new strategies, sharing best practices and aligning business activities (including hiring, employee development and goal setting) to create a more inclusive culture. From junior employees to senior, every individual must understand their role in building a diverse environment.
We tackle this at Continuum by acting as advocates for an unbiased future and working to combat gender disparity in tech:
- We are part of the Women in AI (WAI) community, which aim to increase female participation and representation within AI.
- We mentor people from across the industry, advising them on how to build diverse technical teams within their organisations, as well as providing guidance to women on advancing their careers.
- When supplying our clients with top talent, we make a conscious effort to ensure we present female candidates.
3. Empower leaders
For real change to happen, every leader needs to buy into the value of diversity – and be empowered to take action. The aim is not just to increase the number of minority individuals within a workplace, but to build up a leadership pipeline for these groups and achieve diversity at the managerial level. This will help to create a chain of representation across all levels of the hierarchy, bringing in new perspectives, inspiring future leaders and fostering meaningful conversations about change.
At Continuum, for instance, we leverage our executive recruitment experience and our vast network of C-level executives to empower high-level individuals:
- We connect the dots between individuals by building peer to peer support networks.
- We advise high-level candidates on leadership principals and building a strong work culture within their organisation, working to raise the bar on their current level of thinking.
- We support executives who decide to start up on their own, offering reduced rates supporting them with C-level lead generation.
At the end of the day, there is no fast track to diversity, and building a truly diverse workforce requires ongoing maintenance and genuine commitment from across the business. But by actively and intentionally investing in diversity, you can create a happier and more engaged workforce that will help your organisation stay competitive in the market.
Want access to higher-quality candidates that will add value to your business in the long term? Speak to our team of Data recruitment specialists in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne to learn how we can help you build a skilled and well-rounded team from all corners of the market.