Diversity at work has been a bit of a hot topic recently, with more and more businesses and even entire industries admitting the diversity (or lack thereof) is a problem for them. From the building industry to charitable organisations and technology are all struggling to provide a diverse and dynamic workplace for their employees. But they are missing a trick. Diversity is what can take a business from being average to being exceptional, with businesses who have a healthy balance of men and women 15% more likely to outperform their competitors, and those with a good mix of ethnic backgrounds performing 35% better. But why is diversity good for business, and how can your business become more inclusive?

What Is Diversity?

So, what is diversity anyway? Well, according to the dictionary diversity means ‘a range of different things’. Within a workplace context, it means having a range of types of people within your business. Diverse workplaces are made up of employees with varying characteristics including (but not limited to) religious belief, political leaning, gender, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and ability. In short, your business becomes a mixing pot for all the types of people in the world – a place where everyone feels safe and welcome.

Why diversity is good for business

There are dozens of benefits to having a diverse and thriving workplace, but we don’t want this blog to go on forever. So instead, we’ve picked out 5 of the best to share with you today.

Increased Creativity: Creativity isn’t something you can just switch on and off in your employees – but it is something you can foster naturally in your business. Having a diverse set of personalities, viewpoints, experiences and opinions often means that employees will engage, debate ideas, bring new solutions to the table and be inspired to get creative when solving problems, creating a much more unified workforce.

Foster Innovation: Innovation is the lifeblood of many businesses – but it doesn’t come without diversity. Different practices that arise from having lives in foreign countries, speaking foreign languages, being part of different religions or having lived with disabilities is what leads to truly innovative products and services. If you need proof, look no further than Nike’s ‘Pro Hijab’ – a lightweight, breathable headcover for female Muslim athletes.

Better Consumer Understanding: If you don’t have somebody with a diverse viewpoint in your boardroom then very likely, you don’t have your finger on the pulse of a demographic group you purport to serve. You need someone to advocate for that position.

Richer Brainstorming: A diversity of opinions, ideas and input can lead to much richer, more productive discussions during brainstorming sessions. Whereas an environment where everyone’s opinions mirror each other is more likely to produce the same, stagnant ideas, and is ultimately very bad for businesses looking to innovate or progress.

Increased Employee Engagement: Employees perform better when they feel appreciated, included and valued. If an employee feels they are ‘the odd one out’, or that the company prefer hiring a certain type of person over another, this can cause them to feel singled out, undervalued, or like they are ‘the token hire’. Investing in a diverse workforce will help boost the morale and general engagement of all of your employees across the board, which leads to higher quality work and happier people.

How to avoid bias in interviews

One of the main areas we see bias creeping into businesses (usually unintentionally) is in interviews. Here you need to be extremely careful that you aren’t biased one way or another to ensure you’re building a diverse and capable workforce. A few things you can do to avoid bias in interviews include:

Build an interview panel: It is much harder for a group of people to be biased than it is for one person. Interview panels are a great way to get an even and fair opinion of a candidate, and to present a good impression of your business. Make sure your interview panel includes a diverse group of employees – some who work on similar projects to what the candidate will work on, others who will be peers of have shared experience, and management representation. This helps reduce team bias and gives candidates a fuller picture of what their experience and journey with your company will be like.

Review interviewer feedback: Once a candidate has been interviewed on-site, it’s important to close the loop and manage follow up properly. Make sure each interviewer records their feedback in your applicant tracking system, and assign someone to read through all of the feedback and flag anything that doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t fit. Make sure you don’t allow interviewers to make judgments without concrete examples to back them up or to make decisions on based on factors that weren’t outlined by the hiring manager.

Hold debrief meetings: After all the interviewers have submitted their feedback, invite them into a meeting to explain how each of them engaged with the candidate and how they feel their different experiences shaped their perceptions. You might want to bundle these meetings together so that your team is discussing several final-stage candidates and the next steps in one meeting, rather than dozens of separate ones.

Ask for candidate feedback: Candidates are a great source of feedback for your business, whether you chose to go ahead and employ them or not. Make sure you request feedback from both hired and unhired candidates so that you can improve your hiring process in going forward. You might find that some aspects of your hiring process didn’t sit well with specific groups you’re trying to reach, and this valuable feedback will allow you to adjust accordingly.

We hope you have found this helpful and look forward to hearing any feedback you may have on how you support diversity in your organisation. In the meantime, please feel free to download and share our Infographic on How Diverse Are Our Workplaces Really?

Protect: Anonymous Speak Up: A safe and secure way for your people to anonymously raise concerns via phone, tablet, or PC, ensuring you are aware of any workplace issues and can respond quickly and accordingly

Consolidated Case Management: A secure online place to record, track, update, and report on all speaking up matters, whether raised through WorkInConfidence or directly.

Surveys: Easily set up, run and interpret surveys on engagement, respect, wellness or other topics to ensure you always understand your people, their needs and motivations.

Discussion Boards: Demonstrate your commitment to collaboration with discussion boards to accelerate employee engagement and gain greater insights – anonymous if required.