Diversity – in our ecologies, lives, and businesses – is good. In the workforce, it provides a multitude of perspectives, which can lead to a more rounded, holistic view of the goals we wish to achieve, and the projects we wish to implement. It leads to greater innovation, and, according to Forbes, “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 15% and those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 35%.”
But diversity, while good, is hard. It is not enough to have a diverse workforce – your organisation also needs to be inclusive. This takes hard work, time, and a great deal of effort – not just on the part of management, but on the part of your workforce, as well. And you will need to be careful that you are not managing to assimilation.
Assimilation, at least in this context, refers to the tendency to expect new hires to behave like your existing workforce. This is not a bad thing – each and every company has a culture that has been cultivated and developed over the years, usually based on the expectations set by managers and owners. It makes sense that new hires will be expected to fit in, and hiring for a good fit is by no means a bad idea!
That said, if you wish to benefit from hiring a diverse workforce, to reap the rewards of having a team with unique, distinct perspectives who can individually bring out the best in one another, it is imperative that your workplace focus more on inclusion, and less on assimilation. This is especially true should you wish to transform your business – there is little point in hiring an innovative, creative, strategic thinker for your company if you simply wish for them to make sure that your business continues to run as it always has.
An inclusive workplace is one in which employees feel safe to contribute their different perspectives and ideas. This, in turn, contributes to creating a work environment that is positive, leading to an even more engaged, happier workforce – and one that is more productive. An additional benefit of a diverse, inclusive workforce is that it will be more representative of the customers you serve. This makes it more likely that you will be able to meet their needs – you will have a better idea of what they desire, and be seen to be more in touch with their requirements.
At Lanham-Love Consulting, transforming your company into one that is both diverse and inclusive is our business. We understand how difficult real change can be, and are committed to bringing our wealth of experience to the task of comprehensive B-BBEE compliance. Speak to our experts today to see how we can create solutions that result in additional benefits and increased compliance across multiple elements of the scorecard for your business.