Why Diversity in the Workplace is More Important than Ever

Mary Hutto by

In today’s competitive marketplace, it is more important than ever for companies to find ways to gain a competitive edge. The fight for a competitive advantage begins with your hiring practices. However, when evaluating the quality of their staff, employers often fail to consider one important factor: diversity.

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, diversity in the workplace is more important today than it has ever been. As our country becomes more open and diverse, so too does your company’s need to find ways to appeal to those groups if it is to survive.

Encourage a Learning Culture

There are so many things that people from different generations, cultural backgrounds, and walks of life can learn from one another. Older employees have decades of wisdom and lived experience. Younger generations have a fresh perspective and a firm grasp on cutting edge technology. An employee raised in poverty likely understands the value of a dollar better than someone who has never worried about how their rent would be paid. The more diverse the cultural experiences of a group of people, the more fodder for inspiration and innovation in their creative endeavors.

Attract More Diverse Customers

If you want to attract a diverse customer base, then you have to start by hiring and promoting a diverse group of people. If your commitment to diversity goes no deeper than the skin color of the models in your ads, it won’t take long for your customers to figure it out. No amount of virtue signaling will convince minorities that you care about them or their problems.

Minority groups will assume that a company who fails to employ people like them will not consider or protect their interests. The hard truth? They are probably right. Employers’ policies and hiring practices determine the work culture and attitudes of their workplace. If the person hiring employees cannot make a commitment to diversity, their employees will take that as a cue to do the same. That attitude will inevitably filter into every aspect of your business.

It does not matter how intelligent, creative, or culturally sensitive your employees may be. If they haven’t lived the experience of a particular gender, race, religion, financial background, or mental/physical ability, they cannot have a true understanding of the people who have lived it. They need to have an opportunity to engage, create, and brainstorm with people from those diverse backgrounds on a regular basis.

If your company fails to commit to diversity, you may manage to skate through by attracting the limited demographic that your company employees. You may even attract a handful of customers from other demographics. If you are satisfied with that limited idea of success, then this may not be a concern for you. However, if you truly wish to maximize your company’s earning potential, make the effort to foster diversity. You will not regret it.

Potential Losses

Even if you feel as though your profits are on track, there are other reasons why diversity is important. First, the law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, or disability. Some states also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity. If your entire staff fits only one or two demographics, it will inevitably leave your company ripe for a lawsuit.

Failing to appreciate the importance of diversity can also have an impact on profitability even within a company’s existing client base. For example, a marketing department with no minority presence is too often a recipe for disaster. No matter how well intentioned they may be, they often fail to spot issues in their marketing tactics that come across as insensitive to other groups. They simply do not recognize the harm because it is not something they encounter in their daily lives. But companies can use the demographic segmentations provided in their customer relationship management (CRM) software (find recommendations here) or provided by social media tools to help them better understand their customers, pinpoint oversights, and even understand where hiring might help them better serve their customers.

It’s the Right Thing to Do

Racial minorities, women, members of the LGBT+ community, and people with mental or physical disabilities have been fighting discrimination and oppression since time immemorial. Don’t be part of that problem. All other considerations aside, doing your part to ensure that we break that cycle of oppression is simply the right thing to do.

If you are not part of a minority group, you may not realize that people from minority groups are still struggling for representation and equal pay in the workplace. They are still fighting to have their needs addressed and their opinions heard. They are still regularly subjected to harassment and even physical violence simply because they are different. Many of them live in fear on a daily basis.

Hire for diversity. Protect women and minorities in your workplace from harassment and violence. If someone mistreats them, hold them accountable for their actions. You cannot be neutral on this issue. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Be part of the solution.