Whether you’re the CEO of a major corporation or the manager of a local restaurant, the types of people you hire has a direct effect on the quality of your business work, and the way your business feels to you, your employees, your customers and your community. However, chances are good your customers and community aren’t as homogeneous as your staff. While it may be tempting to staff your gym with only male bodybuilders, you may want to consider hiring your best friend’s grandmother to run the front desk.
Research shows a diverse workplace has distinct advantages. From innovation to customer retention and sales increases, a workforce made up of people who are different from one another is an asset. While differences can make some aspects of getting along and reaching unified decisions more complex, maneuvering those issues is positive. Here is a look at some of the main ways your organization can benefit from having a more heterogeneous staff.
A Broader Base of Experience
More experience is generally assumed to be a good thing in business, but what if all the experience amongst your staff is of the same type? Several people with identical backgrounds — even if they’ve worked in your industry for 20 years — aren’t as valuable from an experiential perspective as a few people with very different backgrounds. The broader the experience base amongst your workers, the more they can contribute to unique problem-solving needs, customer service and demographic identification.
More Opportunities for Learning and Growth
One way a company can ensure its own survival and health is by inviting situations in which growth and learning take place in the employees. When you invest in your employees’ personal expansion, your business will necessarily benefit. New cultures, stories, problem approaches and ideas are part and parcel of having a diverse workforce, and all these things help hone each employee’s experiences of the world. Diversity provides a meaningful context that can positively affect work, work relationships and the broader society.
An Increase in Innovation
Innovation is less likely to occur in uniform environments. Problem solving among different types of people allows for a wider variety of solutions to come to the forefront. If your business feels stuck in a rut, consider hiring a different type of employee to shake things up and loosen old patterns of thinking.
Better Customer Understanding
When a workforce is staffed with people from different backgrounds, your company will more accurately reflect your potential customer base. If you have struggled to effectively market to certain socio-economic classes, races, religious backgrounds or nationalities, hiring people from within those demographics will give you a leg up by providing you with direct experience and knowledge, while it also builds empathy and understanding among your entire staff.
An Increase to Your Bottom Line
While it may not seem like a direct correlation, hiring and retaining a diverse workforce will help your company make more money. When you pull from historically overlooked areas of the, you are drawing from the broadest talent pool possible, and a broader talent pool is more representative of the shifting landscape of business. Even if your organization doesn’t try to compete internationally in the marketplace, the international marketplace is probably in your local neighborhood. If you have a staff representative of the people you are trying to turn into customers, your staff’s knowledge and understanding will help you fatten up your bottom line.
One of the primary advantages to having a diverse workforce is it necessarily trains your staff to adapt in order to work together. Fostering adaptability through difference doesn’t just affect the individuals who work for you; it affects the culture of your organization. This flexibility can help your company and its workers adapt more readily and creatively to changes in the marketplace, your customer base, problems that need solved and more.
More than just a talking point, diversity is a key component of the world most people live in. If your business hasn’t yet increased the diversity of your workforce, you’re missing out on better customer understanding, more varied and valuable experience, increased flexibility and more. As the global marketplace draws closer and closer to home, expanding the definition of who works for you will ensure your organization has a future in this ever-changing world.
Meeting image by Flower Factor on Flickr’s Creative Commons.
Business team image by pennstatenews on Flickr’s Creative Commons.