Diversity is a major buzzword in most workplaces these days. It’s something that HR teams, managers, and C-suite executives know they should strive for at an organizational level, and yet diversity initiatives are too often watered down to the point that they consist mostly of onboarding modules and annual training videos.
This is huge miss for companies. Diversified teams of employees who feel empowered and respected are good for business. Investing in creating and sustaining diversity within your organization can help improve creativity, problem-solving, and communication, both within internal teams and with external parties like clients and vendors.
Why diversity matters
Investing in creating an inclusive and diverse workplace environment has been shown to have a slew of positive benefits for companies.
More diverse hiring practices and better support of female talent within a company builds a broader pool of talent to pull from, the result being that the talent pool at every level of the company is as strong as possible.
What’s more, in any client services industry, an agency will deal with a diverse set of clients. It stands to reason then that greater diversity within the agency team will improve idea generation, creativity and innovation for clients. Having employees with diverse backgrounds at the table when brainstorming for clients is key to coming up with a range of ideas to solve client challenges and provide agile solutions.
Productivity and performance also stand to benefit from diversity. If you hate sitting in long meetings that seem to go nowhere, there is research that suggests that building a more diverse team may offer a solution. According to decision-making database, Cloverpop, “Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions 2X faster with 1/2 the meetings.” These decisions also deliver results that are up to 60% better than decisions made by non-inclusive teams.
How to build and support diverse teams
It’s easy to see the benefits of building a more diverse company, but changing company culture in a meaningful way is not always an easy road. Diversity must be a priority at every level of the company hierarchy, with results that are closely monitored and tracked.
According to a report from Lean In, gender diversity needs to be treated as a business priority (because it is!) This report emphasizes a few key initiatives companies can take in order to build and support diverse teams (which can be applied to both gender diversity and overall diversity initiatives):
- Set diversity goals and measure progress toward these targets
- Remove bias from the hiring and promotions processes to ensure they are executed fairly
- Change comes from the top, so make sure executives are champions of diversity and company diversity initiatives
- Take care to build a company culture that is respectful and tolerant of differences in experience and opinion
- Offer the flexibility to balance work and family in order to allow employees to remain in the workforce as their life situations change