Diversity is an increasingly hot topic as businesses strive for a balanced workplace not just for the sake of diversity, but also for the myriad benefits it can offer.
So what are those benefits, exactly?
Better reflect customers and clients
There is a famous example from the advertising industry that clearly outlines just how diversity can create a hotline directly to your clientele.
Creative directors – the individuals responsible for making the final call on advertising pitches to clients – are overwhelmingly male. The estimates for these figures are that 97 per cent of CDs are male, leaving just a handful of women to manage campaigns.
The issue arises when you consider studies on who actually buys the majority of household products and other consumer services. A massive 80 per cent of consumer spending is controlled by women, and yet, the products are sold to them primarily by men.
While that’s not to say the men in these positions are doing a poor job, it may be an area that could be improved by having greater diversity in other to better reflect the consumers. In workplaces, this could mean looking at your sales and marketing teams, and considering the age, race and gender diversity of your customers, and asking if you could improve your own team to better reflect those differences.
Performance within the workplace
In the latest CEO survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a total of 85 per cent of CEOs whose companies had an inclusiveness and diversity strategy in place said it had enhanced performance and affected the bottom line.
A further 56 per cent said such strategies had helped them compete in new geographies or industries.
“Talent diversity and inclusiveness are no longer seen as ‘soft’ issues, but rather as crucial competitive capabilities,” states the report.
Ways to diversify
While many companies are focusing on gender ratios, there are numerous ways to diversify a workplace.
Facebook, whose clients literally span age, gender and geography gaps across the world, recently released a report on its own diversity. Their current demographic data shows that 55 per cent of employees in the US are white, 36 per cent are Asian, with small figures representing other ethnicities. The goals outlined in the report suggest the company is looking to diversify in terms of race, gender, culture, language, sexual orientation, background, age, geography, and more.
In the PwC survey, CEOs were looking to diversify the skillsets of their employees, both from the time of hiring and through on-the-job training. More than four out of five (81 per cent) CEOs said they were looking for a “broader range of skills than in the past”, and 71 per cent said they recruited from a variety of geographies.
Closer to home, the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) keeps records of the state of the country’s businesses. Their 2013 study surveyed more than 1,000 leaders and managers in Australia and New Zealand and found that two-thirds of those companies had an appointed diversity and inclusion manager. At the time, only half of the organisation surveyed met the basic stages of their diversity strategies, with 41 per cent at foundation level and 8 per cent at compliance level. Appointing a manager or HR person to take on diversity responsibilities may help improve such statistics.