Even in this 21st century, many people are bogged down by the age-old belief that only a specific segment of society can prove efficient and effective in the workplace. However, many modern companies are trying to disprove this notion by bringing diversity to their team.
Take, for instance, Alibaba Group, the biggest e-commerce company in the world that not only serves millions of users but also hosts numerous merchants. In 2017, online transactions from its websites amounted to a whopping $248 billion, which was more than the combined amount of eBay and Amazon.com.
Can you guess the secret behind their success? It is the inclusion of women in their workforce. More than one-third of the founders of this group are women, and a similar percentage of females are there in various senior executive roles.
Not just Alibaba, many modern-day companies are reaping the benefits of introducing diversity to their teams. In this article, let us understand how diversity makes your crew more innovative.
What is workplace diversity?
Before recognizing the role of diversity in workplace innovation, let us understand the concept of diversity. Workforce diversity means employing a wide range of people belonging to different backgrounds in your company, which in effect, invites a broad spectrum of experience, beliefs, ideas and points of view into the mix.
Diversity is the progressive mentality fostered by a company that allows you to understand, accept and value the differences between people belonging to different ages, gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, education, knowledge, experience, skillset and personality.
But why is it important to adopt diversity in our workplace? Let us see the reasons in the next segment below:
Why should we embrace diversity in our workforce?
The number one reason behind embracing diversity in our workplace is simple. It helps us to innovate as well as build a capable team that can run the company efficiently. Diversity promotes inclusion, which helps in enhancing creativity. It welcomes and respects the diverse background of each employee. It creates a positive, supportive, and respectful working environment that encourages all employees to engage and participate freely.
Diversity also drives the search for novel information and perspectives, which leads to better decision-making and problem-solving ability within the team. It can also improve the bottom line revenue of a company and lead to unlimited discoveries and groundbreaking innovations. Simply being exposed to diversity can influence and change your thought process.
New researches also prove that diversity not only helps to unlock innovation but also drives market growth. A report by the Harvard Business Review stated that companies that employed a diverse workforce enjoyed better overall ﬁnancial performance. It showed that EBIT margins for diverse companies were almost 10% higher than that of organizations having less-than-average diversity.
These findings should be enough to make you intensify your efforts in ensuring that your company embodies and embraces the power of differences. Let us now discuss in detail how diversity can make your team more innovative.
How diversity helps in making the team more innovative?
By now, we have established the fact that diverse teams are more innovative. Let us now understand how diversity helps in making your team more innovative. Here are a few insights to prove that diverse and inclusive teams are the new engines of innovation:
Diverse and inclusive teams create incredible ideas
You require great ideas to achieve success in business, and they will not pop out of thin air. Only the people working in your team can produce fantastic ideas that were not initially considered.
That is why the more diverse your teams are in various dimensions, like culture, gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity, educational background, experience level, expertise, etc., the more they will try to seek and draw inspiration from seemingly unrelated places.
Moreover, when an individual employee discusses his/her ideas with a group of people from diverse backgrounds, they tend to combine more innovative ideas.
Let us look at this example:
Some years ago, a hospital in England was experiencing high error rates while transferring patients to the intensive care unit from the surgical unit. Their teams were highly uncoordinated, which resulted in a handful of these errors costing several patients’ lives.
In this situation, where most hospitals would have taken notes from other hospitals to fix the issue, this one instead drew inspiration from Formula One racing. They figured out how a pit stop crew operates and then applied the same techniques to their transfer model. As a result, the errors declined dramatically.
Diverse teams are better decision-makers
When you try to decide which ideas should be put to the test and which proposition more resources should be spent, a diverse and inclusive team can be much more efficient in decision-making than a homogenous one.
From our experiences at Dovico, we have seen that an increased level of difference in our team improves their chances of selecting a game-changing idea. That is because a diversity of thought can stretch a team in many ways that can be uncomfortable but effective.
Considering we have a flat organizational structure where anybody can make decisions, diversity gives our employees the support they need to believe in what they can accomplish. It also helps them redefine the parameters they are used to operating within while working in a homogenous team.
Being a service-oriented company, we believe in delivering great value in our timesheet products so that our customers find themselves in a better position than before. We do this by helping our community through volunteering, donating money to charitable causes, and promoting personal growth for all of our employees.
We have seen that including people who think about the landscape differently within our decision-making group has prevented us from making bad decisions and stopped us from alienating our customers. It has also helped us in improving our brand image and facilitated growth.
Diverse and inclusive teams are like idea factories. They are made for innovation. Let us now understand how a diverse workforce can benefit your company.
What are the benefits of having a diversified team?
A diversified team entails a plethora of benefits:
Broader Spectrum of Ideas
Employing novel ideas, new communications styles, and different viewpoints allows you to create a diverse team and engenders diversity in thoughts. It makes your team more agile and capable of tackling unique problems. A diverse workforce can help you reduce your company’s blind spots. Also, diverse teams tend to be more creative because employees working in an inclusive environment are exposed to different attitudes and means of expression, which creates a laboratory for novel ideas and innovation.
Reducing employee turnover by fostering a friendly working environment where different views are welcomed plays a critical role in the workplace because it facilitates earning more profit. A recent study conducted by BCG showed that diverse teams could raise company revenue by 19%. The reason behind this is that the members of a diverse workforce can relate to and understand the needs of a particular client more quickly.
Considering the merits of workforce diversity, every company must foster a diverse working environment. Doing so will ensure that all your employees get the opportunity to grow personally. They perform well within the organization and go out and do great things for their families and friends.
How can you achieve diversity in your team?
To introduce diversity in your team, you can start by hiring people from different backgrounds. Though there is no guaranteed silver bullet for recruiting diverse hires, you can follow a few steps to improve your chances.
● Develop a strategy and follow it to the best of your ability. Draw up a company-wide commitment that has approval from across the board. Now measure the success of that plan and implement it.
● Get rid of unconscious bias. Having recruiters taking names out of the application forms or implementing gender-blind applications can help in this regard.
● Attend conferences that are intended for diverse job seekers. You can find such conferences through various college job fairs and alumni groups.
● Reconsider the benefits you are offering. Do your health insurance benefits extend to your employees belonging to the LGBTQ community as well?
● Increase paid parental leave for both parents irrespective of their gender or offer time off for everyone’s religious holidays.
After hiring a diverse workforce, there are a few more things that you can do to enhance the innovative potential of your organization:
- Seek everyone’s perspectives
Innovation in the workplace requires creating divergent ideas and selecting the best one from them. Just by including people with different viewpoints in your meetings, you can get the inspiration that you had not thought of on your own
2. Be wary of the so-called experts
Experts are not the only ones who can provide you with the right or the best answer in every situation. Any employee across your team can catalyze your company’s next big idea in today’s world. Hence, it would be best if you kept yourself open to such possibilities.
3. Bring out the true potential in individuals
Every individual possesses a wealth of experiences, interests, and passions that you can use for your organization’s benefit. Valuing their opinions and insights during a conversation can lead you towards creating something that is truly unlikely and unexpected!
These days, almost all businesses are either going through or facing changes brought about by an ever-changing global marketplace.
Moreover, with the latest technology being available at the consumers’ fingertips and the increase in competition amongst businesses, innovation and creativity have become paramount for success. Having a diverse and inclusive workplace allows you to unleash an explosion of creative and innovative ideas within your organization. However, do keep in mind that simply hiring a diverse workforce is not enough. Creating a safe psychological haven for each employee of every group is quintessential for bringing out their unique perspective.