The power of diversity in an organization

With the protests and fight for justice happening around the world I figured I’d focus on a way organization can help solve some of the issues. Many organizations already have programs in place but not all are effective at bringing in a diverse team. There are many reasons why this might be the case, so I’d like to explore them and highlight the power of diversity in an organization. Hopefully I can help some organizations understand why it’s good for business and their bottom line.

Why companies struggle

I don’t believe most, if any organization actively try to build a non-diverse team. However, without the action of deliberately trying to build one you can often fail in that regard. One major problem for large organizations is that there is a significant cost to making this a priority. When you lack diversity in an enterprise organization it takes a huge amount of effort to change the status quo.  These organizations struggle with the question is the large investment into diversity worth the return? It’s a tough question to answer for some organizations but something they should be considering.

There are typically 5 reasons why these programs fail and end up costing an organization money. The main ones that I have seen are resistance from employees as research shows when people are forced to take training or feel singled out in an organization it can have negative effects. To combine that with consistency and when these programs are highlighted is another issue. If it is in response to an incident or report, then it can feel forced and reduce engagement from leadership and the organization as a whole.

The Benefits of diversity

There are many benefits beside taking part in social change and helping to fix inequality in your community. (Which is a pretty big plus if you ask me) If that isn’t enough to help shift your perspective then the fact that there was an 80% improvement in businesses performance for organizations that had high levels of diversity and inclusion. It’s also been found that if 2 companies are identical with only diversity being the difference then that company will be more profitable. So fixing this problem can help improve performance and profitability something every company understands.

Creativity

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that having a diverse team leads to more creativity in solving problems. When we bring together people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures they approach situations differently. Research shows that this is very much the case and diverse teams are much better at being creative in their solutions. Seeing as businesses will continue to face new and challenging problems having a diverse team to problem solve them will be key to your organization’s success.

More engaged employees

Having those diverse people coming together opens the eyes of everyone. People are able to learn about new cultures and experiences they might have never come across. This keeps teams more engaged in the organization and can help build better connections among employees. These at times stronger bonds have been seen to lower turnover within companies. Seeing as productivity and retention of employees is at the top of most leadership minds it’s time to take notice.

Mirror your community

The purpose of having diversity in your organization is to match your community and customers. By doing so not only will you be better able to serve your customers, but you’ll also build a better brand. When people know your organization works on better representation, they will show even more support for your mission. Being a leader in diversity will only help the success of your organization.

Identifying the problem

Before trying to create change or have diversity program you first need to understand where the problems lie. Each organization is different and may be struggling with different aspects. In smaller organizations it might be a lack of any structure or processes in place in general. For larger organizations there is much more opportunity to identify where things can improve. It can range from hiring process to internal development to growth opportunity. While some organizations might be great at hiring minorities, they may fall short in giving them growth opportunities. To solve the issue the best thing you can do is listen. No one understands the issues in terms of diversity and inclusions like your own minority employees. Asking them will show you care to solve the real issues and not just make it seem like you’re trying.

Building your program

Once you’ve identified where your issues may lie it’s time to build out your plan for how you improve. Remember every organization is different and it’s important to take your own culture into consideration while building your plan. If your team easily adapts to change then putting in place an aggressive plan could work. A smaller organization will be easier to change processes in across the company while larger organizations might need to address it first in small groups before going company wide. When building your strategy there are many resources available to help guide you.

Roll out of the program

The most challenging aspect of creating change can come in terms of implementation. As we saw above one major obstacle is having resistance to the program. If the people don’t believe in the mission or have the tools in order to implement it then it will fail. Providing your operations and diversity team with training in leadership and change management will go a long way. You may also deal with some toxic employees so here are some tips on how to deal with them.

Nothing in life comes easy and that will definitely be the case when it comes to changing the culture of any organization. However, change comes when you make people believe in what you are trying to accomplish. As we’ve seen above the benefits to have a more diverse and inclusive workforce are undeniable. Communicate that to your team and I can almost guarantee they will see the power of diversity in an organization.

How avansai can help

We work in tandem with organizations diversity hiring programs in order to help bring them the talent they look for. Our advisors can also help coach and guide you around strategies in how to attract and retain a diverse team. You can reach out here if you are looking to hire or if you’re looking for companies that have diversity programs fill out a Career Matrix and we can help connect you to them.

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