Is my Team Diverse Enough? The Impact of Diversity in a Business

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In a world driven apart by politics, religion, gender, and education, there is a growing importance for recognizing and implementing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Diversity is no longer assessed just by age, gender, or race, but its scope has expanded to include different religions, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

In 2018, 78% of surveyed employers said that diversity is the top trend which impacts how they recruit and hire. And in 2019, one of the top workplace trends was rallying for more diversity and inclusion. Accepting, respecting, and valuing everyone’s individual differences in not just the smart thing to do for your business, but it is also the right thing to do overall.

A key driver of innovation

When ideas that come from varying perspectives and worldviews merge, they produce innovative ideas that open doors for new opportunities. Companies with an above-average diversity score reported a 45% average innovation revenue, compared to the 26% of companies with below-average diversity scores.

The Harvard Business Review evidenced that companies with a diverse workforce “out-innovate and out-perform others”. They analyzed two types of diversity in their selected companies: inherent (gender, ethnicity, etc.) and acquired (traits gained from experience). Their research concluded that employees in diverse workplaces are 45% more likely to report a growth in market share and 70% more likely to report that the firm captured a new market. 

The growth and success of Singapore, in particular, exemplifies the idea that diversity unlocks and drives innovation. Singapore is a small but multicultural country, populated with an ethnic mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian groups. They have consistently promoted racial and ethnic integration and their efforts have successfully established themselves as one of the world’s heavyweight financial centers and consistently tops rankings of economic and business freedom 

More inclusion equals more engagement

Your workplace may be composed of men and women alike, people from different ethnic backgrounds, and be overall diverse, but that is immediately canceled out if there is no cultural feeling of belonging or inclusion.

When underrepresented groups are shown the same respect and support as their counterparts, they are more likely to feel comfortable in their workspace. This in turn leads them to become happier, more motivated, and more efficient employees. A community of diverse individuals have been proven to make better and quicker decisions 87% of the time and deliver 60% better results. 

Develop a better client understanding

A diverse workforce increases the probability of attracting new clients who are able to identify and relate with people in the company who are similar to them. This breaks down possible language and cultural barriers, thus allowing for smooth communication that properly addresses the client’s needs and values.

A diverse team can attract a diverse customer base as well. This advantage is especially important in a business market shaped by globalization and wherein technology and social media have allowed companies to extend their reach all over the country. 

Increased profits/financial output

McKinsey & Company stated in its report, titled “Delivering Through Diversity”, that there is a correlation between gender and ethnic diversity and the profitability of a business. Companies in the top quartile for diversity are 21% more likely to turn a profit above the natural average, compared to companies in the lower quartile. 

Vijay Eswaran writes on the World Economic Forum that “diversity is not just a metric to be strived for; it is actually an integral part of a successful revenue-generating business”. Innovation drives revenues higher, as found by the Boston Consulting Group as well, which is specifically helpful for tech companies wherein innovation drives their brand and business. 

How diverse is the workplace in the Philippines?

While the Philippines is making strides in gender diversity in the workplace, having ranked first overall in the 2019 Gender Diversity Benchmark for Asia, there is still a lot to be done to create a diverse and inclusive workplace for all.

An article in Rappler talks of the importance of promoting SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) inclusive policies in Asian companies and reveals that only a shocking 17% of companies have SOGIE-inclusive policies. Ryan Silverio of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus highlighted the need for inclusive and diverse policies that can prevent gender based discrimination and violence at work

Accenture, a global professional services company, is a great model of a diverse and inclusive workplace, having ranked number one in Refinitiv’s Diversity & Inclusion Index in 2019. Accenture Philippines has an impressive workforce of 52% women with half of them in a leadership position. They are the first company in the Philippines to achieve the Level 2 Economic Dividends for Gender Equality Move certification. They offer a 120-day maternity leave benefits, same-gender life partner benefits, as well as a 30-day paternity leave benefits. Their pioneering gender-equal practices have earned them numerous industry and government awards for being a champion of corporate social responsibility.

Evidently, diversity presents a number of advantages not just externally, but internally as well. If you want your own business to succeed, take a step back, assess your company’s structures and policies, ask your employees about their experience, listen attentively, and most importantly, take action. There is more than enough research to prove that a conscious and consistent effort towards implementing a diverse and inclusive workplace will yield nothing but beneficial results.

Visual by: Chloe Gaw

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