8 Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not — and that’s a systemic issue that plagues jobseekers from diverse backgrounds well before their resume ever lands in your inbox. Even hiring teams with the best of intentions will have to overcome implicit bias and resistance to change in their efforts to improve their companies’ diversity and inclusion. But the benefits of diversity in the workplace are real, and the most forward-thinking organizations are now recognizing D&I efforts not just a necessity, but an opportunity.
Here are 10 reasons diverse and inclusive companies thrive — and how those companies can supercharge the benefits of their D+I efforts with the right employer branding strategies.
Opens up access to new talent
A truly inclusive approach to hiring means understanding that every step in the recruitment process has the potential to disadvantage candidates from various backgrounds. You can be genuine in your desire to grow a diverse and inclusive team, but if you aren’t intentional in your outreach and recruiting, your efforts will likely fail.
So ask yourself these questions.
To which job boards does your company post its open roles? Do these job boards reach a diverse array of candidates?
To which college campuses do you send your hiring reps? Are you visiting campuses of universities that prioritize diversity and inclusion in their own admissions process, or are you only visiting campuses with well-established pipelines to the professional world? Are you looking to — or even partnering with — nonprofits and nontraditional education centers outside of the four-year university realm?
(Among the organizations we recommend: Ladders For Leaders, Npower and Per Scholas.)
How do you test candidates’ skillsets? Are those tests designed to factor in disadvantages certain candidates might face if, for example, English is their second language or if a quality Internet connection is difficult to find where they’re based?
Even once you do identify, interview, and offer roles to diverse candidates, have you designed your employee policies in a way that’ll enable those candidates to actually take the job? For instance, do you offer a remote work policy for the single mother who needs to attend to her child’s needs during normal work hours? Do you pay your interns? Or do you only hire interns whose circumstances enable them to take work that doesn’t pay?
And lastly, do you offer any kind of apprenticeship or internship program to allow talent without traditional degrees to gain the skills needed to pursue a new career path within your organization? IBM’s Apprenticeship Program is a great example of what that kind of program can look like.
By thinking deeply about these questions, searching broadly for talent, and by listening closely to candidate feedback, you can ensure that your employer branding message reaches top candidates who otherwise don’t have fair access to most professional opportunities.
Helps you create a better product
Diversity and inclusion doesn’t just have an internal impact. If the product or service that your company provides is built and operated by a group of people who come from a single background or point of view, that product or service will provide far less value to a diverse consumer base. Representative viewpoints create an internal culture of learning and open-mindedness, which leads to a more effective product, plain and simple.
(For good measure, get this: according to a Cloverpop study, diverse teams outperformed individuals up to 87% of the time when making business decisions.)
Helps you market more effectively
Marketing material needn’t feature Kendall Jenner handing out soft drinks at a protest to miss the mark. Tone deaf and exclusive messaging is inevitable when the team who is creating and distributing that message has a limited viewpoint. Even the language of a job description can be tainted by unconscious bias — for instance, words like “ambitious, dominant or competitive” can be off-putting to candidates who don’t connect with historically masculine language. By employing a diverse team and gathering feedback, you can more effectively avoid those blind spots.
Lets you show, not tell
As we covered in our employer branding deep dive, authenticity is paramount — and that’s arguably most true when it comes to your company’s representation of its D&I efforts. Don’t be the corporation that distributes brochures featuring diverse “employees” plucked straight from a stock photo library. Walk the walk, so you can talk the talk.
If your team is still not as diverse as you’d like, be honest about it. The prospect of admitting that your company’s D&I efforts have fallen short can seem terrifying, but by being frank about your shortcomings and clear in your goals to address those shortcomings — as Hubspot does brilliantly in their 2019 Diversity Report — you’ll more effectively reach candidates who can see past any cloying BS.
And once you’ve built a diverse, inclusive team, you’ll be well-positioned to communicate that fact authentically on your careers page and in any employer branding videos. Learn a bit about Lever’s D&I efforts with this day-in-the-life of a CEO video:
Inspires creativity & collaboration
By working alongside people from different backgrounds, experiences, and working styles, teams are empowered to have a more holistic view of the world. Diverse teams can look at complex problems more carefully, as opposed to a homogeneous culture where there is pressure to conform.
The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that 74% of individuals believe their organizations are more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion. Different perspectives allow us to all question and notice our own biases and deviate from what is considered the norm, and this collaboration empowers each team member to ideate in more innovative ways.
Improves employee engagement
In a truly inclusive environment, all employees feel comfortable to speak up and have their voice be heard — and when that’s the case, the best ideas rise to the top, and all employees are empowered to do their best work. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can also play a key role in ensuring that historically marginalized voices are heard.
After all, it’s not enough to appreciate, celebrate, or tolerate differences — we’ve got to understand that we need everyone’s differences. It’s not enough to hire people from different backgrounds and expect a cultural change. A sense of belonging is a psychological need that everyone has and this needs to be established in order for everyone to feel safe enough to bring their whole self forward and thrive. Given that sense of belonging, employees are far more likely to be “all-in” on the mission of your company.
Helps attract and retain top talent
According to Glassdoor, 67% of both active and passive jobseekers say a company’s diversity (or lack thereof) plays an important role in whether or not they accept a job offer. If you can authentically work your company’s D&I efforts into your employee value proposition, you’ll be in position to reach a talent pool that increasingly values the benefits that a diverse and inclusive atmosphere provides.
Sets stage for longterm success
The benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace reach far and wide, both for employers and employees. Predictably, better product development, better marketing, and better access to talent typically leads to a healthier bottom line. That’s not just conjecture: a BCG study shows that revenue was 19% higher in companies with above-average diversity on their management teams. The fact that companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more likely to succeed longterm inherently creates better job prospects for historically marginalized candidates — and that lays the groundwork for a more diverse talent pool for years to come.