Plenty of things determine an organisation’s success. But one vital aspect that is often overlooked is the value of diversity in the workplace.
One of the most glaring examples of why it’s so important is how few women hold key professional positions. The Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) report provides interesting insight on a lack of female inclusion at the highest levels.
According to the WGEA, female employment overall has been going up since the 1970s, with women now comprising 47% of employed Australians. However, the amount of female representation in decision-making positions of the workplace clearly still needs to be improved.
The report says women hold just 13.7% of chair positions, 17.1% of CEO roles and makeup 30.5% of key management personnel overall. More than a third of boards and governing bodies do not include a female member. On the flip side, less than one percent have no males.
Why does this matter? Because when the ‘face’ of an organisation, or the branding and imagery that it projects, excludes half your potential talent pool, an organisation suffers. Extending this rationale beyond gender to cultural diversity, LGBTQI+, age, and ability inclusion, is when an organisation can truly say it has selected the best people for its workplace.
What are the benefits of diversity in the workplace?
Of course, it goes without saying that it’s important because it’s only fair; nobody should be judged, punished or restricted because of how they look or where they’re from. But learning to create, lead and manage diverse and inclusive teams, brings a massive range of benefits to an organisation.
Perhaps the most important benefit is an uptick in ideas. These can have anything from small everyday impacts to huge overall benefits.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that, in countries around the world, boosting the diversity of leadership teams brings increased innovation, which in turn leads to better-earning potential for the company:
“…increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance. In both developing and developed economies, companies with above-average diversity on their leadership teams report a greater payoff from innovation and higher EBIT margins. Even more persuasive, companies can start generating gains with relatively small changes in the makeup of their senior teams.”
When you include people of various ages, genders, nationalities and other backgrounds, you allow your organisation to benefit from thousands of different experiences and viewpoints that can lead to a broader range of ideas. Tackling issues from different angles can provide new solutions that a more narrow set of backgrounds might not have produced.
Speaking of other places in the world, technology and connectivity have greatly changed the landscape in which many businesses operate.
With international interaction becoming such a key part of getting the most out of overseas markets, having team members who have lived abroad or spent extensive time working in other parts of the world can be beneficial.
Hiring employees who speak different languages and have knowledge of various workplace cultural differences can make it possible for a company to work on a global basis and interact with a broader client base.
This can also factor into the benefit of increased ideas; having been exposed to how things are done in other parts of the world can bring a fresh angle to how to do things right here in Australia.
When you focus on diversity at different levels of your organisation, you help build a reputation as a progressive business that treats its employees fairly. Like-minded candidates who appreciate such an emphasis on diversity will be drawn to such companies, and you’ll have a better chance to keep them longer with a culture of inclusivity and acceptance.
Managing diversity in the workplace needs to be an ongoing conversation that deserves a strong attention and focus. One way it can start is with learning.
Find out more about our MBA (Women in Leadership), which dives into the big and small factors that have led to gendered workplace environments. Learn to navigate this diverse professional sphere to positively transform an organisation’s culture.