Benefits of diversity in the workplace

March 28, 2019

Many businesses still have a long way to go when it comes to diversity and representation at work.

Taking gender diversity as an example, roughly 50% of the global population is female, yet in many industries women remain noticeably absent from the board room. The industries where they are represented or even in the majority, tend to be areas where the gender pay gap is largest. Even the relatively new tech industry is not free from inequality with Google employees around the world taking part in a female led walk out in 2018.

It doesn’t get much better in other areas of diversity. Global statistics from the United Nations show 50-70% of people with disabilities in developed countries are unemployed; this increases to as much as 90% in developing countries.

International human resource managers (IHRM) have an important role to play in improving organisational diversity because we have access to a more diverse pool of potential employees than most.

Increasing workplace diversity matters because everyone should be given the opportunity to excel at a role they have talent in. Outside of that, studies show there are a host of business benefits to building a diverse workforce including:

There is a business case for diversity. Homogenous workforces tend to have similar ideas. A growing body of research around the world is showing companies who foster diversity go on to reap financial reward. One study by NC State University showed diverse businesses developed two additional products than competitors over a 10-year period.

More diverse offices usually have:

  • a more varied skill set
  • a greater spread of experience

study by MIT highlighted that combining these two attributes has resulted in more productive workplaces. Offices with a greater variety of employees (and where difference was accepted) were also found to be happier and more co-operative places.

Building a fully diverse workforce helps ensure attraction of the top talent in the market. Forbes found 65% of companies surveyed for a global diversity study, have policies specifically focused on recruiting diverse talent as they are increasingly making the link between inclusive workforce and better decision making. Conversely those who experienced the advantages of an inclusive environment in university or another role may view this as an important attribute of anywhere they work.   
Consumers at all levels are becoming more and more discerning about the businesses they interact with and how they conduct business. Workplace environment is an increasingly important consideration, with consumers willing to pay more for products from a business with a positive reputation.

If your business is struggling to keep employees, then fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion may help. Indicators show that by valuing difference in learning and working styles, businesses create a more welcoming environment where employees are happier to stay.

The impact of diversity in the workforce is significant when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. By developing a diverse business, you ensure it has the best chance of competing even during challenging economic times.

In 2019, health and wellness is another key driver for those working in global roles, ensure your expat workforce have access to international health insurance so they are protected while working away from their home country.