Take a look at your employees or co-workers and their varying backgrounds. How diverse is it? Are some from different countries? Do some have accessibility and mobility issues due to an injury or disability? Do some have different native languages, learning preferences and educational experiences?
No matter what industry you work in, chances are high that you work with a team that brings a range of varied backgrounds (cultural and otherwise) as well as valuable—and—unique skill sets to the organization.
In their study, Safety & the Diverse Workforce, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) found that “to remain effective, competitive and safe, organizations must ensure that they have the internal capacity to successfully integrate employees from an increasingly diverse workforce.”
Likewise, in Amy Edmondson’s book, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace, she talks about how imperative psychological safety is in a diverse workplace that is engaged and productive. In fact, she says that how safe a work environment is can “make or break achievement of team performance.”
Over the past few years, workplaces have experienced a number of dramatic changes. Most surprisingly, COVID-19 revealed the challenges of accommodating to different backgrounds. But perhaps more importantly, it showed us the many benefits of a diverse workplace—and how we can become stronger by learning from each other.
In a 2022 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO), researchers found that “high levels of equality, diversity and inclusion are associated with greater innovation, productivity and performance, talent recruitment and retention, and workforce well-being.”
Furthermore, a 2021 study in the Academy of Management Journal found that “organizations with high levels of racial diversity in both upper and lower management (i.e., high–high racial diversity congruence) realized superior productivity compared to organizations with low levels of racial diversity in both upper and lower management.”
Research proves that a more productive company is also a more competitive one, providing a corporate advantage to those that invest in diverse workplaces. Here are 10 areas for companies to focus on—and benefit from—when building a diverse workforce within your organization.