Diversity in Corporate Culture
Diversity refers to the unique characteristics that make us up as individuals. This may include demographic identity such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, abilities or disabilities, and cultural background. In this context, we will focus on the presence of these identities within the workplace. Inclusion can be seen as a way of valuing and respecting these differences and creating workplace environment that embraces and celebrates them.
Why Is There Such a Big Push for Diversity?
There is a big push for diversity in corporate workplaces for several reasons. A few key reasons why diversity is important in the workplace are:
- improved decision-making by having a diverse group of individuals from differing backgrounds
- increased creativity and innovation of new ideas and approaches to problem-solving
- better representation and inclusivity to better represent and serve the needs of a diverse customer base
- improved company reputation and bottom-line
- legal and ethical considerations of laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination in the workplace in certain countries
How Can Companies Begin to Cultivate a Diverse Workforce?
To promote diversity and inclusion within the workplace, Strasity can help your company create and offer robust training programs that are specifically tailored to your work environment. These trainings help to educate your workforce on the key foundations of diversity and inclusion, such as unconscious bias, cultural competency, and inclusive communication.
- Unconscious bias refers to the automatic associations and stereotypes that we hold about certain groups of people, which can influence our decisions and actions.
- Cultural competency is the ability to understand and effectively interact with individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
- Inclusive communication involves actively taking steps to ensure that all employees feel heard and valued, regardless of their background or identity.
To further promote diversity and inclusion within the workplace, you can establish employee resource groups (ERGs) that focus on specific underrepresented groups. These groups can serve as a supportive community and provide networking opportunities for employees who identify with a specific marginalized group. Some common ERGs are BIPOC, LGBTQI2S+ individuals, ethnic groups (i.e. Asian ERG, Afro-Caribbean ERG, etc), and individuals with disabilities. As your organization begins to identify marginalized groups internally, it can move towards forming ERGs as needed.
ERGs can also work to raise awareness of the unique challenges and experiences faced by their respective group within the workplace and advocate for policies and initiatives that promote equity and inclusion. By providing these resources and support systems your company will enable employees to feel heard and included, while maintaining a welcoming environment and providing an internal support network for the advancement of employee careers.
When Can We See a Lack of Diversity Affect Our Employee Base and More Importantly Leadership?
Can you remember the last time you had to work on a team project? Let’s say for the sake of this example that during the brainstorming phase of that project, someone puts forth an idea, everyone else in the group gets excited about it, and the feeling is that they’re ready to get started. You on the other hand believe the idea has many holes in it and that the group would do better moving in a different direction.
What would you do in that situation? What do you believe most people would do in that situation? Irving L. Janis, an American research psychologist from Yale University and a Professor at the University of California, is widely accredited as the man to popularize the term “Groupthink” (“Irving Janis”). In short, the term highlights a social phenomenon that most people end up engaging in when they fear their dissent will disrupt the harmony of the group and cause members to reject them.
Groupthink can be attributed to many factors (the lack of impartial leadership, pressures to conform, closed-mindedness, uniformity in thinking, etc.) and often contributes to poor decision making and less than desirable outcomes (Cherry, Kendra).
Increasing access to a more diversified set of skills and experiences and developing a team that has different ways of thinking, behaving, and communicating, is a profound way to combat Groupthink. Companies that cultivate a diverse leadership team tend to facilitate an atmosphere of independent thinkers which contributes to the growth of new and profitable ideas.
At What Point Should a Corporation Consider a Strategy for Diversity?
We recommend all companies should have a strategy, but even more so larger organizations. But if they aren’t sure, here’s a few questions to ask themselves:
- Does your employee base reflect your local community?
- What is the company’s stance on D&I?
- What is employee sentiment?
- What structures, programs or policies have been put in place to ensure bias is eliminated as much as possible?
If you aren’t able to answer the questions above, that can also be an indication for you to consider implementing a D&I Strategy.
What Are The Benefits Of Having A D&I Strategy?
There are several reasons a corporation should decide to prioritize a strategy for diversity as one of their top priorities. First, they stand to benefit tremendously from the sense of belonging it creates in their employees who begin to feel a part of the company’s core. This can be particularly important for older companies that may be facing increased competition from newer or more agile competitors. The sooner diversity and inclusion become an ongoing focus for organizations, rather than a one-time or ad hoc effort, the sooner the organization experiences improved performance in across the board.
Second, a commitment to diversity and inclusion can help to attract and retain top talent. Studies have shown that employees, particularly younger ones, are increasingly looking for employers that share their values and prioritize diversity and inclusion.
Third, a focus on diversity and inclusion can also help improve a company’s reputation in the community. This can be particularly important for companies that have a long history in a community, as they may be more closely associated with the community’s values and culture.
Finally, the sooner a company can cultivate a diverse and inclusive culture, the sooner they’re able to stimulate employee engagement and satisfaction, which can help companies stay competitive in an ever-changing business environment.
Diversity in the corporate workplace is important for many reasons, as we have seen above. It can foster a more inclusive and respectful work environment, lead to improved decision-making and problem-solving, and drive innovation and creativity.
How Does Strasity Approach the Topic of Diversity With Corporate Clients?
Cherry, Kendra, “What is Groupthink?” VeryWellMind, November 12, 2022, verywellmind.com/what-is-groupthink-2795213.
“Irving Janis.” GoodTherapy, 22 Jul. 2015, www.goodtherapy.org/famous-psychologists/irving-janis.html.