5 benefits of diversity in the workplace

5 benefits of diversity in the workplace
SEEK content teamupdated on 27 April, 2024
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Diversity is more than just a buzzword – it’s a workplace quality that more employers are embracing, as it can have a wide range of benefits for their organisation. Diversity at work is all about creating an inclusive and respectful environment that finds value in unique and varied perspectives and abilities. 

Many leading global companies have diversity and inclusion policies. This means that they hire people from varied backgrounds throughout all levels of their organisation. In a big multi-national, you can expect to see people from many different cultures and ethnicities, and people across the age, gender, and physical-ability spectrum.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace can help increase productivity, innovation, problem solving and creativity. It can also help improve team morale, create an accepting and open-minded workplace culture and improve job satisfaction. 

In this article, we explore what diversity in the workplace means, how it benefits workers, and how you can thrive in a diverse workplace. 

Diversity goes beyond the visible differences between people. A diverse workplace includes people with different educational backgrounds, life experiences and cultural origins. Embracing diversity in the workplace means that the organisation recognises and values people’s differences, and strives to create an inclusive and accessible work environment. 

Diversity covers a range of different employee characteristics. Here are some of the main components of diversity in the workplace.

Cultural diversity

Cultural diversity means your employer strives to have people with different beliefs, values, practices and traditions in their organisation. Culture refers to customs, languages, religions, and overall way of life.

Ethnic diversity 

Ethnicity refers to someone’s cultural heritage and geographic origins. Cultural diversity and ethnic diversity have overlapping meanings. Different ethnic groups can also have distinct languages, customs, religions and ways of life.  

Gender diversity

Gender diversity in the workplace means men and women are equally represented, and receive the same treatment and opportunities. The term ‘gender diversity’ can also mean that a workplace welcomes employees from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and treats all employees fairly regardless of gender identity.  

Age diversity 

This means not discriminating against a certain age group in the hiring process, and giving people of all ages the same opportunities in the workplace. 

Disability diversity

Disability diversity means having team members with physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments. An organisation with disability diversity provides adapted workspaces for employees who need them. 

 

Diversity can have positive impacts on both employees and organisations. When a workplace has people with differing opinions, it can often unlock a wider range of ideas and more innovative solutions. By drawing on different perspectives and life experiences, teams often have more collective knowledge, which can benefit productivity in many ways. 

A diverse workplace is also good for company culture. Embracing differences fosters an inclusive and accepting environment where employees feel a sense of belonging. This can increase team morale and make people more engaged and happy at work. 

Here are some of the main advantages that come with being part of a diverse team.

1. Increases innovation and creativity 

When you combine different perspectives and thinking styles, you can unlock a wider range of possibilities. Exposure to different perspectives can help you develop more creative problem-solving abilities and come up with more innovative ideas. 

2. Improves representation and equity

A diverse workplace is more likely to ensure that all employees have equal access to training opportunities, promotions and career development, regardless of their identity, disability or background. Employees benefit by being represented and treated fairly. 

3. Enhances employee engagement and satisfaction

You’re more likely to feel valued and accepted in workplaces that embrace diversity. This sense of belonging helps create a more welcoming and engaging workplace culture for everyone, which can lead to a greater level of job satisfaction. 

Working in cross-cultural teams provides you with a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Improved cultural awareness from exposure to different cultures
  • Improved communication skills from conveying ideas to a range of audiences
  • Personal enrichment from building relationships with colleagues from different cultures
  • Networking opportunities that build a diverse professional network

4. Reduces ‘groupthink’

Groupthink is a type of decision-making process where team members unknowingly conform to the group norm. Bringing together people from different backgrounds can help generate more diverse ideas, as individuals approach the same issue in different ways based on their unique identity and experiences. Being around people with different thought processes can encourage you to challenge your own ways of thinking about a specific problem or task. 

5. Expands skills and knowledge pool

Employees from different backgrounds bring with them different skills, knowledge and expertise. When they share their unique abilities, it fosters an environment of continued learning and professional development. Being around teammates with different abilities can inspire you to improve your knowledge and abilities as well. 

 

It’s clear that diversity can bring benefits for both an organisation and its employees. Here are a few suggestions on how you can work effectively within a company that has diverse team members.

Recognise the value of diverse perspectives

Embracing diversity starts with acknowledging your teammates’ value at work. Showing your appreciation doesn’t have to be over the top. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Acknowledge their contributions during a team meeting
  • Say thank you for their input
  • Celebrate their achievements, milestones and successes
  • Encourage their professional development
  • Provide opportunities for them to take the lead on projects or initiatives

Educate yourself on the different cultures of the team 

If you’re part of a diverse team, you could do some research on the different cultures and backgrounds you encounter at work. Here are a few ways you can embrace multi-culturalism at work:

  • Celebrate cultural events together
  • Show genuine curiosity about you different cultures 
  • Be respectful 
  • Be considerate 

Challenge your own biases 

While everyone has personal biases, it’s important to be aware of them and work to challenge them. Reflecting on and addressing your biases helps you treat team members fairly and inclusively. Here are a few tips on how to promote diversity and inclusion in a workplace by addressing your biases:

  • Raise awareness of unconscious biases
  • Participate in diversity-and-inclusion training
  • Encourage underrepresented individuals to pursue leadership roles

You don’t have to be a manager or in a leadership position to act on the points above. Being aware of your own biases is a great first step.

Create a safe space for open communication

Open communication is essential for working well in a culturally diverse workplace. When your colleagues feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns to you, it encourages them to participate in discussions and share their perspectives.

Practise active listening

Active listening plays an important role in fostering inclusivity within the workplace. Active listening involves fully concentrating on, understanding and responding to what others are saying. By practising active listening, you show others that you value and respect their perspectives. Active listening is also a great way to build trust, respect and understanding with other team members, no matter their cultural background.

Respect different communication styles

People from different backgrounds have different ways of expressing themselves, influenced by factors like their upbringing and culture. When working in a diverse team, it’s important to understand that your colleagues may have a different way of communicating than you. It’s important to respect different communication styles and work to understand your workmates as best you can. 

Celebrate successes together 

Recognising and celebrating your workmates’ accomplishments  is an indirect way of embracing diversity. When co-workers see that you are happy when they succeed and that you value their input, it sends a message that you support them and enjoy working with them. It can also inspire mutual respect and support within your team. 

Embracing diversity as an employee means being open to understanding different cultures and being respectful of your colleagues, no matter their background. In return, you can enjoy a wide range of benefits, like increased support, exposure to different skills (and interesting cultural backgrounds), more creative inspiration, and more learning opportunities. 

What is diversity in the workplace?

Diversity in the workplace involves organisations hiring people from varied backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and lifestyles. Workplace diversity refers to more than just race or ethnicity, it also encompasses disabilities, gender, neurodiversity and more. 

How can you show diversity at work?

Companies demonstrating diversity and inclusion at work actively promote a welcoming environment that values and celebrates people’s differences. There are a number of different steps they can take to embrace diversity, including:

  • implementing diverse recruitment practices,
  • ensuring representation in leadership,
  • implementing diversity training and awareness programs, and
  • designing accessible workplaces.

Why is diversity at work important?

Workplace can enhance creativity, innovation, problem solving, decision-making and adaptability in teams, which all contribute to overall organisational success. Embracing diversity also helps foster a positive company culture, leading to greater employee engagement, satisfaction and retention.

How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

One of the best ways to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to celebrate and acknowledge different cultural and religious holidays. Managers can use these times as an opportunity to spread awareness and educate the team on the various cultures within your workplace. Encourage your teammates to share their cultural practices and traditions, if they feel comfortable doing so.

How to improve diversity in the workplace? 

How to improve diversity in the workplace as a manager? Improving diversity in the workplace means challenging any personal biases to provide equal opportunities to everyone, regardless of identity. Common strategies to boost diversity include:

  • establishing diversity goals,
  • conducting regular diversity assessments,
  • crafting inclusive job descriptions,
  • collaborating with diverse organisations to source new hires, and
  • providing professional development and leadership opportunities for underrepresented groups.

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