Secrets of the Job Hunt


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Benefits of Workplace Diversity

Over the course of the last 25 years, the word "diversity" has become firmly entrenched in the global business lexicon. But what exactly is diversity and why is it so critical to corporate success?

Imagine a company where every employee shares not only the same physical characteristics, but also the same level of intelligence and emotional range. After awhile, the idea-well would start to run dry, making it nearly impossible for the company to compete in an evolving marketplace.

Conversely, a company with a diverse set of employees embraces differences in perceptions and opinions. Instead of dismissing, or even fearing alternate viewpoints, it chooses to explore and learn from them, thereby significantly expanding its market share.

So what exactly are these "alternate viewpoints"? Diversity goes beyond race and culture to encompass a range of individual traits including gender, sexual orientation, religion, personal beliefs, age, and even disabilities—both physical and mental (i.e. depression and anxiety).

Companies that reject workplace diversity put their bottom line at risk.

The most obvious negative consequence for companies that lack a diversity policy is a discrimination lawsuit. Employers that are taken to court will need to allocate significant time, effort and money towards their case, not to mention time and resources from HR, IT, legal and other department managers.

Resolving a workplace discrimination issue can take months. This could be a period filled with anxiety and stress not only for executives and the plaintiff, but for all employees. Conflicts of this nature can also reduce morale and productivity; and the increased tension has the potential to trigger stress-related illnesses among those directly involved. Once the media gets wind of it, scandalous headlines will be hard to avoid, regardless of the outcome. This sort of brand damage can take years and millions of dollars in crisis public relations to reverse.

Diversity in the workplace not only improves morale --- it could also boost your bottom line.

Companies that embrace diversity gain the confidence that comes with taking the moral high-road and generating goodwill. Beyond that, internal diversity reflects the real society outside, enabling a firm to truly identify with a range of people, not just one homogenous segment. In this respect, diversity is not only a source of opportunity, but also of many personal and business benefits. These include:

* Fostering good practices, which raise the company to the ranks of "Employer of Choice."
* Enhancing brand and reputation (remember, it takes only one negative headline to tarnish these.)
* Maintaining and strengthening your workforce, which bolsters recruitment and retention.
* Increasing morale and productivity.
* Reducing workplace conflict and the litigation costs that might arise in the opposite situation.
* Fortifying the moral and ethical values of the organization.

Diversity experts maintain that companies can increase profits by up to 10 percent by implementing a diversity strategy at every level. A team that can get inside the minds of its customers and understand cultural differences offers a significant advantage over a competitor with a one-dimensional workforce.

Conversely, companies that do not value diversity sharply reduce their competitive edge by not fully understanding their future target market. A strong diversity strategy creates and maintains a specialized workforce that can recognize, attract, and retain the clients of tomorrow.

No comments: