8 Reasons Inclusion Is Important In A Diverse Workforce
It wasn't too long ago that diversity and inclusion were a 'nice to have'. Something companies aspired to, but rarely achieved, and it remains an idea that not everyone buys into. Labelled by some as a 'politically correct' box-ticking exercise, it's taken a few crucial shifts in society for most to appreciate it's not only beneficial, but it's vital to the success of any business that wants to be taken seriously.
If, as we've said in a previous blog, diversity invites people to the party, then it's inclusion's job to make sure they have fun and want to stay. But how people feel at work is not always easy to quantify or control. Your workforce may be diverse, but if your people do not feel welcomed, valued and safe, then it isn't entirely inclusive, and they won't perform to their highest potential.
But other than improved performance, how exactly could inclusion support your business, and what can you expect to gain from a focus on inclusion?
1. Higher employee engagement & productivity
This goes hand in hand with improved performance, but it's more than just staff working harder. Highly engaged workers don't merely carry out their job; they put in maximum effort and invest this energy to make a sound business great. They feel allied to the organisation in a way beyond salaries and benefits. For a diverse workforce, feeling included is a fundamental part of the equation.
2. Improved company reputation
Staffed by people engaged and enthused by what they achieve, your business will establish a reputation not only with customers but also as an employer brand. Recent research has shown that more than half of those seeking a new role said that a diverse workforce and inclusive environment are essential factors when evaluating companies and job offers. So not only will your business persuade more applicants and deliver a competitive edge, but it will also engage customers who choose to do business with more socially inclusive and responsible companies.
3. Easier recruitment & lower staff turnover
So we know employer branding is more important than ever (especially for millennials), and the better your reputation, the easier it is to recruit. Those within HR are well aware of how lengthy and costly recruitment can be. Add into the mix certain US tech giants offering free transport to work, free meals & onsite gyms; the game has changed. Today candidates are considering not only the role itself but also the company, its values, its D&I and how happy a place it is to work. Get it right, and you'll have your pick of the top talent choosing your company and, even more importantly, staying for the long haul.
4. Improved customer orientation
Most companies have a diverse customer base, and to deal with that, you need a diverse team. By hiring from all walks of life and providing a secure and inclusive environment, you'll able to connect with a broader range of customers. And again, research shows that a team member who shares a customer's ethnicity is more likely to understand that customer than another team member, increasing the odds of success.
5. Increased flexibility
As we've seen over the previous year, the world can change rapidly, and those organisations that can adapt quickly to change will survive and thrive. An inclusive and flexible company can adjust to these changes because its diverse, inclusive and consequently collaborative environment, allows constant communication, and as conditions change, they can change with them.
6. Foster creativity & innovation
Creativity isn't confined to those within creative industries. Any business that strives to set themselves apart from their competitors needs to innovate. Those with a unique and diverse workforce introduce new perspectives and ideas that could add the competitive edge your company is looking for.
7. Better problem solving
Following on from the advantages of a more creative and innovative workforce is the ability to overcome problems. Quickly. A variety of perspectives listened to and valued will provide faster solutions and create more unique ideas. That range of perspectives offers alternative ways to solve the problem, either because some team members encountered the issue before and could apply a modified solution, or others understand the challenge and know from personal experience how best to address it.
8. Increased profits
For all the reasons mentioned above, the final and for some the most compelling reason that inclusion is vital in a diverse workforce is that an engaged, productive, innovative, creative and collaborative workforce attracts world-class talent. It retains them and gives them an environment within which they feel safe, secure and valued. Applying all that to your organisation can produce a threefold effect; improved business, improved reputation as a company and employer and enhanced relationships with both your customers and the broader community.
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