“No brand can afford to be stuck in the past,” says Steve Hastings, partner at creative agency isobel.
This concept is more poignant now than ever with businesses hitting the headlines over the last month who are cracking down on diversity from Hewlett Packard Enterprise to Saatchi and Saatchi.
If there’s one thing that’s consistent in the world of business, it’s that brands have been spending a lot of time and money trying to follow and understand their increasingly diverse audiences. This is because with the advent of technology, the world has shrunk, making it possible for everyone to get connected and interact. Smartphones and other devices make it easy for individuals to get in touch, regardless of time zones or geographical location. As businesses and individuals become more globalised, organisations should practice diversity at the workplace first, if they wish to operate and compete on the global stage. Even if as a small start-up or SME, chances are that the demographics – be it for talent or clients – are constantly evolving and adapting, thus becoming more diverse locally as well.
So as brands, advertisers and more are gearing to meet these expectations and, it only makes sense that your company should follow suit. And why not? This month Cogs are going to be creating a number of articles on diversity, this week we discuss the benefits to embracing workplace diversity, some of which are outlined below:
Increased adaptability – Through a more diverse workforce, your company is able to come up with a greater variety of solutions to problems, be it in service, allocation of resources or even attracting and retaining talent. This is because employees from different backgrounds bring their individual expertise and experiences to the table, resulting in varied ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets, customer demands and more.
Broader range of thinking – A diverse mix of skills, experiences and backgrounds – be it in languages, industry or cultural understanding – allows a company to provide products and services to customers on a global basis. And as mentioned earlier, even if you’re competing locally, as the world gets more globalised and connected, businesses will find themselves exposed to a variety of target audiences, with varying needs and expectations. Failure to understand this will only result in alienating that market segment.
Fresh viewpoints – Creativity is a word that several bandy about without much understanding or practice. What a diverse workforce can offer are varying points of view or new, creative angles in which to approach an issue. Being able to tap on and draw from this creative pool often leads to new business strategies that help to assist with meeting needs or challenges faced by the company.
Effective execution – Being inclusive and embracing diversity also leads to a more positive corporate culture. Organisations that encourage diversity in the workplace often inspire staff to perform their best. And when your people keep performing at their peak, new strategies can then be executed even more effectively, thus leading to higher productivity, profits, and ROIs. Talent attraction and retention should also be more of a breeze as your employer branding rises.
Of course, as with any initiative that involves talent, there are and will be challenges to address first and foremost. Here are some of the more common ones faced by companies:
Communication – The same benefits that diversity brings, can also sometimes cause barriers. Perceptual, cultural and language barriers are just some of the hurdles that need to be overcome in order for a company to succeed. Ineffective communication of key objectives, strategies, etc. results in confusion, diminished teamwork, and low morale, all of which can have long-lasting negative effects on a company.
Resistance to change – There are always a few individuals who are resistant to change and will refuse to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is evolving. Their comfort-zone mentality of “We’ve always done it this way,” are often inhibitors of progress and will need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Actual implementation of policies – Larger companies with a lot of red tape will face this the hardest. This can be the overriding challenge to all diversity advocates because the first hurdle is to identify and customise a strategy for workplace diversity. The next, is to get it approved. Being armed with employee assessments, feedback and research data, will help in building a solid strategy, so conduct thorough research first.
Management and training – Providing diversity training on its own is not enough for your organisation’s diversity management plan. A well-planned and thought out strategy must be crafted and implemented to create a culture that permeates every department, level and function. In short, you need to live, breathe and believe in what you do in terms of diversity.
The above are some very broad views in terms of workplace diversity; there are always a myriad of motivations and competing interests at play, because that essentially is what diversity is – a wide range of viewpoints, experiences and individual beliefs. However, organisations that are able to effectively employ this will find that the cohesion that comes from building diverse and successful teams lead to powerful, positive working environments. In the long term, it ultimately leads to greater ROIs, cost savings and fosters greater cohesion among teams outside of work too.
Stay tuned for the second part of our diversity series where we will touch on solutions and steps you can take to introduce workplace diversity.
With a network of international offices and over a decade of experience, we know how to find the best people for your business. Whether it’s one person or a whole department, we manage everything from talent attraction to getting them on board. So if you want to chat to our team of specialists about way to create a more diverse team contact us today.