Business Advantages of Diversity in the Workplace
by Ruth Mayhew
The definition of diversity changes as demographics in the workplace and overall society change. When diversity became a buzzword in the late 1960s and early 1970s with terms that included affirmative action and equal employment opportunity, diversity generally meant a difference in race, sex or color. Today diversity can mean any characteristic or trait that distinguishes you from another colleague. No matter the official definition — if there is one — workplace diversity can have a positive impact on your work force, customers and community.
Collaborative Work Force
Diversity in your work force can contribute to your bottom line. Many companies provide diversity training as a starting point for achieving workplace diversity. In addition to formal training, leadership modeling behavior is an effective way to understand diversity. Encouraging work force collaboration through mutual respect for colleagues, without regard to culture, work style or ethnicity is another way to foster appreciation for diversity. The Diversity Vision Statement of Foothill-De Anza Community College aptly describes the result of a diverse workplace: “We believe that culturally diverse teams yield more creative, synergistic and effective outcomes.” A collaborative work force can result in a more productive workplace, which in turn, translates to greater organizational success.
Solid Business Reputation
When your business demonstrates an appreciation within the workplace, your reputation in the business community can improve. If your business goals include becoming an “employer of choice,” you may experience a more diverse pool of applicants who can bring a great deal of talent to your organization. Your company may also be viewed by stakeholders and other professionals as an organization that values integrity and ethical business practices. Business consultant Paul Taaffe of Hill & Knowlton states: “Reputation matters, and the reputation of the company is based on far more than just its financial performance and the quality of its products and services.” A solid business reputation is another advantage of workplace diversity that can improve your standing as an industry leader.
Increased Customer Base
Workplace diversity can affect your organization’s global appeal and expand your customer base by virtue of your work force talent. In the university’s Mission, Vision & Value statement, the University of Pennsylvania’s Purchasing Services notes one its values as: “Workplace diversity to embrace various backgrounds and perspectives in our work force so we can best serve our broad customer base.” If your business objective is globalization, a diverse work force can help you achieve that goal.
For more information please contact Diversity Enterprises at www.diversityprogram.net or www.juryconsulting.com. Marshall Hennington, Ph.D. can be reached at (646)375-2098, (310) 205-5510 or (305) 914-3769