Improving diversity in the workplace is not merely a question of ethical consideration – it can also improve productivity and business performance. This is one of the leading findings of a White Paper from Thomas International, which pulls together pertinent research from around the world on the impact workplace diversity has on organisations.
Globally, HR and psychology literature is focusing more and more on the impact that workplace diversity can have, both on employee wellbeing and productivity, as well as on a company’s profits. More and more companies across the world are embarking on diversity programmes, not just to gain the moral high ground, but also to improve their bottom line in increasingly competitive markets.
“One of the main reasons workplace diversity is so important stems from the moral argument that every individual should have the opportunity to be the best they can be,” says Garth Crossley, Sales Manager for Thomas International Australia. “Research has shown that workplace diversity has the ability to engender feelings of belonging in a staff complement, and can lead to more innovation, driving better decision making and making teams more productive,” he adds.
Crossley highlights five reasons why improving diversity in the workplace can have a positive effect on both morale and that all-important bottom line:
1. Acquisition of new skills and innovation
“Diversity helps to introduce staff with unique skills into a workforce,” says Crossley. “Global research has also shown us that 85% of senior executives feel diversity is critical in driving innovation because of the different perspectives it brings to a team.
According to Crossley, there is a strong case to be made for the advantages of the variety of perspectives and approaches that diversity in the workplace brings. “Diversity shapes how we view situations, as cognitive functioning and attitudes vary with demographics,” he says.
2. Better decision-making:
“Diverse teams have the potential to make better decisions,” says Crossley. In one research study included in the White Paper, it was found that diversity led to an increase in scrutiny and, ultimately, better decision making and performance on a specific task or challenge. “Diversity shapes how we view situations,” says Crossley. “Cognitive functioning and attitudes vary with demographics, so a more diverse team can be better equipped to deal with unforeseen challenges,” he adds.
3. Personality plusses:
A more diverse workplace is one in which there is interplay between demographics and personality, says the White Paper, and according to Crossley, personality diversity is a winner when it comes to team-work. “Personality diversity has long been proposed to have an impact on the effectiveness of teams,” he says. “As early as the 1950s it was found that groups of people with diverse character traits were better at solving problems. Demographically dissimilar people were perceived more favourably if they were more extroverted and showed higher capacity for self-monitoring,” says Crossley.
4. Employee and client satisfaction:
Demographics of both the general and working population have significantly shifted, giving rise to a desire for more diversity in the workplace and a need to attract staff with unique skills. “In the UK, for example, 80% of staff joining a new workforce stated their employer’s diversity and inclusion policy was an important factor in whether they chose to join the company,” says Crossley. “Demographic shifts are an important consideration with clients as well as employees,” he adds. “Our research has found that two thirds of employers feel a diverse workforce which displays improved demographics is required to better serve their diverse customer base.”
5. Financial gains:
“Companies possessing a more diverse workforce (both in terms of gender and ethnicity) more likely to outperform less diverse competitors,” says Crossley. “Financial benefits from diversity come from the varied approaches and perspectives which in turn lead to more ideas and innovation, leading to better decision making, more complex thinking and increased ability to deal with unforeseen challenges,” he says. “For exmaple, our research has shown a direct correlation between gender diversity and significant improvement in earnings before interest and tax,” he adds. The White Paper also found that companies with demonstrated and well-implemented diversity and inclusion policies consistently out-performed their competitors.
“Companies ranking highly for gender diversity performed 16% better, and those with greater ethnic diversity performed 35% better than lower ranking organisations,” says Crossley.
These findings highlight the need for organisations to rethink workplace diversity and the important role diversity and inclusion policies have on business growth.
“There are many practical changes organisations can make to improve workplace diversity. Thomas International is experienced in evaluating recruitment processes to isolate any sources of unconscious bias and potential adverse impact, and can assist organisations in compiling comprehensive diversity and inclusion policies which are tailored to suit anticipated growth trajectories,” says Crossley.
“Diversity within a workplace is so much more than a moral issue. Organisations can harness the difference in people to help them become more innovative, more skilled and better able to cater to their clients’ diverse needs. In today’s competitive environment, workplace diversity can be the key to success.”
About Thomas International:
Thomas International offers a broad portfolio of assessment tools that aim to provide insight into people’s potential, what motivates them, and their core strengths and limitations – thereby adding a high level of certainty to all people-related decisions across each stage of the employee life-cycle. Thomas International Australia has a team of administrators, psychologists and psychometrists based in Sydney to support businesses in Australia and New Zealand, complemented by a large support network in the UK. Thomas International is the largest privately owned global provider of people assessment tools and the only provider with bespoke Education and Sport Divisions. For more information, visit https://www.