Diversity – a tick in a box or the key to a more productive organisation?

Diversity - a tick in a box or the key to a more productive organisation?When you read the news, it seems that politics, both nationally and across the world, is growing more inward looking.  And that, we believe, is a backward step.

To be successful, organisations need to create an outward-looking culture that supports inclusivity across as many different groups of people as possible.

A study in diversity

A study by global management consultants McKinsey examined 180 companies’ boards, over four countries for a period of two years.  The results were interesting but maybe not surprising.  Diverse boards perform better than less diverse ones.

In fact, they perform MUCH better.  Diverse boards generated returns on equity that were an average of 53% higher and earnings before interest and tax of 14% higher.

And whilst this study looked specifically at the top executives, I’m sure that the benefits that brought those improved figures have an impact at any level in an organisation.

So, improved financial performance is one huge advantage, but there are plenty of others.

A range of different people

It’s great to work with a range of different people.  You get a broader input of experiences and opinions that help you view your job – and indeed, your world – in new and interesting ways.

And so it follows that different perspectives can bring new insights about how challenges can be tackled.  Studies involving mock juries found that a culturally mixed panel deliberated more, and raised a broader range of questions.  Move that situation to the meeting room, and varied debate will lead to better decision making.

Another advantage is that varied cultural perspectives can be the catalyst for innovation and creativity.  Different viewpoints and experiences can offer new perspectives that inspire the team to see things differently.

Think about it – have you ever met someone from the other side of the world and spoken to them about their life and experiences?  And if so, have you ever thought at the end – that was a waste of time?  I bet not.  I bet you found the conversation enthralling and engaging.

This point is borne out by a study from Forbes who found “the best way to ensure the development of new ideas is through a diverse and inclusive workforce”.

Skills gap

The Open University has recently reported the UK skills gap is hitting our economy to the tune of £2.2bn, as organisations struggle to find workers with the skills and attributes they need.  A policy of diversity helps to bridge the skills gap.  By drawing from a mixed pool of people, you attract and retain the best talent.  Demonstrating that you are actively seeking an inclusive culture can make you stand out to the best candidates.  And diversity has been proven to improve retention, as employees feel respected and valued for their unique contribution.

It’s not always easy

Achieving diversity is not always easy.  It’s different to ‘equality’ which is enshrined in law, a little less tangible perhaps, a little more easily overlooked.  But if you have a mindset within your workplace, that ensures all sections of society have access to your employment opportunities, the results can be overwhelmingly positive, and so much more than the proverbial tick in a box.

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