4 Points to help you gauge just how diverse your workforce is

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So many companies these days claim to be diverse, but sometimes after a little digging we find that diversity is in fact lacking. That’s because many professionals have a slightly distorted idea of what workplace diversity is and how to build diverse teams. 

If you’re wondering where your company stands when it comes to diversity, and to learn new and exciting ways to build diverse teams and capitalise on your employees’ potential, follow our tips below. 

What does diversity really mean?

Upon hearing the term ‘diversity in the workplace’, many professionals immediately think of racial diversity and look to how many people of colour make up the workforce. But racial diversity is, ofcourse, only one area of diversity, albeit incredibly important and the are that needs the most work in most organisations.

Diversity covers:

*Ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities

*Employee experiences

‘Two-dimensional’ diversity

While the physical differences of employees matter when it comes to achieving a more diverse and inclusive workforce, employee experiences are just as important to ensure employees relate to one another and a healthy company culture can be established.

“Where employees go to school, the languages they learn and how much time they spend working with people of different cultures, backgrounds, and even personalities, all influence how well one employee can relate to another.

Researchers refer to this as a “second dimension” of diversity based on life experiences.” (The RAND Journal of Economics)

It’s been proven time and again that diverse workforces are more innovative, productive, engaged and motivated, but two-dimensional diversity ensures organisation’s benefit that much more due to a stronger company culture and greater alignment among employees, workwise as well as in personality and emotion. 

Deloitte claimed that one of the biggest sources of bias at companies is a lack of diversity in thought, which is why it’s important for leaders to expand the definition of diversity beyond just demographic and social identities. Researchers say, companies tend to benefit from listening to people who think differently as they bring forth some of the most innovative ideas.

Looking at your leadership team

Is your leadership team mostly men, mostly women or an even mix? 

Asking yourself this question will help you to gauge whether there may be a weak link in your diversity and inclusion chain. Fair gender representation especially within leadership teams is telling about your organisation’s understanding of what diversity and inclusion means, and what your values are. 

Not only does gender equality lead to higher returns, according to numerous studies, but it improves retention and recruitment of talent. 

How many different ethnicities are represented in your workforce?

a) 1-2

b) 3-5

c) 6+

Research shows that an appreciation for different backgrounds impacts employee performance, and when gender equality and racial diversity is included, an organisation has a greater chance at reaching their full potential.

It’s important for leaders to realise that diversity is not a numbers game, the purpose of diversity is to create an environment where differences are seen as strengths – because they are. Without diversity, employees lack inspiration for innovation; they lack perspective and even motivation because there’s little to no challenge. And the organisation lacks variety in thought, skill and resource. 

In one five-year study of 2,117 teams representing more than 40 countries, data showed that the presence of multicultural members significantly enhanced teams’ creative performance.

How long do employees tend to stay with your company?

a) 1-3 years

b) 4-6 years

c) 7+ years

Your staff turnover is a reliable indicator of how well your diversity strategies are working. Poor workplace culture is a big reason for loss of talent, and unfortunately, problems like offensive and stereotypical racial or sexist jokes are often to blame. 

As one executive noted in an interview with Google, initiatives and schemes to introduce diversity aren’t the same as maintaining a culture of inclusiveness. “We see very little being done to create environments and roles that keep that brilliant talent in the business,” the chief executive said. ot enough to hire for diversity or introduce an initiative focused on gender, ethnicity, or age. You have to create a culture where diversity is embraced at large.”

Are you ready to make a change?

The key is to ensure leadership is guided by data and equipped with the right knowledge, such as pulse surveys, that can help identify gaps and allow you to address small problems before they become big issues. Our free Diversity and Inclusion Guide may also be a good place to start!

Learn How to Keep Your Best People In Our Free Guide to Retention