The topic of diversity and bias in the workplace took the nation by storm with the Kleiner Perkins gender discrimination lawsuit and, most recently, with Indiana’s religious freedom law, which many believe will result in discrimination against members of the LGBT community.
While most businesses establish hiring practices to reach candidates regardless of race, religion and sexual orientation, discrimination still manages to weasel its way back into the workplace -- especially when it comes to hiring. Even today.
Deloitte’s 2014 Human Capital Trends Survey of 2,532 business and HR leaders worldwide found that one-third of respondents say they are unprepared when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, while only 20 percent claim to be fully “ready.”
Creating a diverse workforce goes beyond meeting equal opportunity employment (EEO) regulations, however. What many companies fail to realize is that diversity in the workplace can help drive real business success.
Here are a few reasons why diversity in the workplace just makes sense:
1. A diverse workforce breeds diversity of thought.
We’re a big melting pot of diverse backgrounds and lifestyles at The Bouqs Company. Nearly half of our team belongs to a minority ethnic group. What’s more, our team is comprised largely of women -- about two-thirds of the group. In fact, of our non-founder board members, two of three are women.
Basically, we’ve got the diversity thing down.
Hiring employees that come from varying walks of life brings a diversity of thought and perspective to the organization; in other words, diversity creates new ways of looking at things. Companies that embrace workers from different backgrounds can come up with more innovative ideas and solutions that stem from those varied individual experiences.
Former CMO of Microsoft, and current member of our Board of Directors, Mich Mathews, said it best: “Diversity creates an atmosphere where out-of-the-box ideas can get traction and voice, as you have diversity of people to champion it. In my experience, when you have management that values differences, and minorities forming a critical mass, all employees have a level playing field for advancement and support for new ideas.”
In short, a diverse workforce breeds diverse ideas.
2. Diverse employees cater to a wide customer base.
One of the biggest benefits of filling your workplace with a diverse group of individuals, from various backgrounds and lifestyles, is the competitive advantage you gain as a result.
Having that diversity allows you to more effectively market to a variety of consumers, from assorted racial and ethnic backgrounds to men and women to different religions to people both young and old and to the LGBT community. The fact of the matter is that people identify most with those who understand them best.
“I believe the combination of inherent - those things you are born with - and acquired diversity - your experiences in life - help you appreciate nuance and differences in your customers, which makes you a smarter marketer,” says Mathews.
3. In the end, people are people.
In a nutshell, we want people who are smart, creative and proud of who they are in our company -- in whatever way that might be. We focus on hiring people who not only fit the job description, but fit within our unique company culture. It just so happens that those people come from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.
So we’re not setting a quota or taking gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation into consideration at all. We don’t hire because someone is a minority and we don’t not hire because of that fact. We look for the best -- period. By hiring without a lens on, in one way or the other, we get the best performers that fit our company the best. That drives results.
While hiring a diverse staff can provide your company with new viewpoints and attract more of the market it need not be intentional, nor should it be. Hiring should come down to the candidate’s qualifications, experience and personality -- an overall diverse background across an organization will happen naturally as you hire in that way. And that leads to an awesome combination.
How has diversity in your workplace improved your business?