The Benefits of Embracing Diversity in the Workplace

On Friday, October 5, the country celebrated National Diversity Day (NDD). NDD is described as: A day to celebrate and embrace who we are, despite our differences, no matter what race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, or disability.  A day to reflect on and learn about different cultures and ideologies. A day to vow acceptance and tolerance. A day to consciously address these areas at educational and religious institutions, as well as in the workplace and at home. (Source: http://www.nationaldiversityday.com/).

What is Workplace Diversity?

Workplace diversity focuses on the the similarities, and differences, that individuals bring to an organization. It usually goes beyond the legal obligations of employers regarding equal opportunity and non-discrimination statutes, and includes other dimensions of human interaction. Diversity includes factors which influence the identities and perspectives that people bring to a company, such as ethnicity, religion, education, parental status and geographic location. Diversity is about creating workplace environments that encourage learning from others who are not the same and utilizing the advantages these diverse perspectives bring to the company.

What are the benefits of a diverse workplace?

Organizations that understand the value of a diverse workforce implement training programs that promote these concepts. Here are three core benefits of a diverse workplace:

  1. Employees with diverse backgrounds engender greater creativity. Creativity can be stunted after working for too long with the same type of people who all think the same. It becomes extremely difficult to step outside the box and see how to change or improve something. Approaching the situation with a fresh perspective and encouraging the participation of diverse individuals can spark a new idea or creative solution.
  2. A Diversity Statement (similar to a mission statement) actively promotes, recognizes and utilizes the uniqueness of each individual. By embracing a mixed workforce with different religions, nationalities and ethnicities, the company will promote a more positive, engaged and motivated workforce. And now, with up to four generations working together, there is a unique opportunity for coaching, mentoring and cross-training through experience (older) and technological knowledge (younger).
  3. An educated and tolerant workforce will SIGNIFICANTLY decrease the chances of a discrimination lawsuit. Employees will be more understanding of each other’s differences, recognize that each individual (including themselves!) comes from a unique background, and will think twice before making overt or implicit discriminatory comments or insults.

As the global workplace shrinks, diversity will continue to grow as a one of the greatest challenges – and opportunities – for employers. Beyond Organizations that embrace the uniqueness of each individual within their ranks, and actively promote their participation and inclusion, will find a stronger, more creative and more successful business.