“I think it’s important people see themselves represented in film. It’s not a small thing.”
-J.J. Abrams, Director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is already one of the most successful movies in history – but one of the more controversial aspects of the film (don’t worry, there are no spoilers ahead from me) was the diversity of the three main characters: Actors played by an African-American, a Guatemalan and a female as the lead hero. It’s interesting that so many would see this kind of diversity as progressive when, in reality, it’s just reflecting the world we live in.
It got me thinking about how important it is for people to see themselves represented in the companies they want to work for. Diversity isn’t simply about assembling talent of different backgrounds under one roof. In 2016, we’re going to see more employers make diversity truly work for their business – and there are plenty of reasons to back this strategy up.
Better Problem Solving
Beyond being representative of the “real world,” diversity within a company inherently brings a wide range of perspectives that make for better solutions. Why? There’s gold to be mined in what people have been exposed to in their lives. What life lessons have they learned? What’s their world view? What do they see as right and wrong?
Think about how an incredible mix of backgrounds, ethnic groups, genders, sexual orientations, and religions encourage unique perspectives to business challenges. We can’t expect the answers to be drastically different if we draw from a very homogeneous group of people, so consider what that means in a business setting for collaboration and problem solving. Without great diversity of ideas and viewpoints on many initiatives, a company may find itself falling behind its competitors.
Good For The Bottom Line
Based on a recent three-year study from Bersin by Deloitte, organizations that implemented diversity initiatives performed far better financially than those that didn’t embrace such initiatives. How much better? Try 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee.
Plus, these companies aren’t really seeing diversity as a separate entity. They are “baking” diversity initiatives right into their strategies for learning, reaching performance objectives and implementing succession plans. What they learn from their diversity efforts is helping them build a culture focused on developing talent that will move the company forward.
Yet, only about 10% of those organizations surveyed have a culture that encourages inclusive activities to develop learning and leadership.
Making Diversity Happen Starts At The Top
It’s quite simple: If a company leader embraces diversity and the business can extract the very best insights from its people, great results can surface in the company’s culture.
Start by making diversity a core value to the organization and promote its merits on a regular basis to your staff to express how much it means to the company. This includes ensuring that everyone in the organization feels safe enough to freely express his or her point-of-view.
In the best case scenario, what you ultimately will have is a culture that has such a plethora of ideas and feedback that the leadership can select a solution from a high quantity (and quality) of suggestions. It comes from listening, understanding, caring and being open to employees from all walks of life.
When we evaluate talent at GForce Staffing Services, we’re always trying to bring diversity into our decision making process, asking how a person’s background can add a great deal to the organization’s culture. The evidence is there: Initiatives of inclusion are just smart business and any company that doesn’t believe in diversity is far behind the curve in the 21st century. For the sake of being competitive for top talent, it’s time to integrate diversity into the fabric of your operations.
How is your company utilizing diversity efforts to build a better culture? From the smallest acts of recognition to the biggest company-wide initiatives, we’d love to hear how you’re successfully making diversity part of your everyday life in the workplace.