Of all the countries in the world, not many embrace diversity as much as the United States. In fact, it could be argued that our cultural melting pot has played a big role in our country’s success and ascension to the position of global leader. Likewise, today’s workplaces have become increasingly diverse — and many companies employ individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Let’s examine the concept of workplace diversity and the benefits it can have for businesses.
What is Workplace Diversity?
A company with workplace diversity employs individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds who have different characteristics, beliefs and experiences. Some elements that account for workplace diversity include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, thinking style, educational background, etc. Companies with a diverse workplace are usually open to a plethora of ideas in order to further their business and better meet the needs of consumers.
The Importance of a Diverse Workplace
There are numerous benefits that stem from diversifying staff members within a company. Perhaps the biggest involves the level of creativity and innovation that often arises when there are multiple viewpoints. In fact, a study from Forbes found “of the 321 companies with more than $500 million in revenue surveyed, 85 percent agreed or strongly agreed that diversity is key to driving innovation in the workplace.”
Another advantage is that it often makes it possible for businesses to appeal to a broader demographic. When there are employees from different backgrounds, this tends to make a company more relatable. In turn, it’s easier to attract more customers and thus increase market share.
It can also help a company acquire high-level talent. By having a willingness to hire many types of individuals, the talent pool grows and can present businesses with opportunities that others lacking workplace diversity may miss out on.
In addition, workplace diversity usually helps a business become more adaptable. By having employees of different ethnicities, cultures, religions, etc., it can better meet the needs of a broad range of consumers and be more competitive. As the world becomes more and more globalized, this can be beneficial to long-term sustainability.
Federal Laws on Diversity
There are several federal laws in place that address the issue of discrimination and promote diversity within the workplace. Some primary laws include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to race, gender, age and religion
- The Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees 40 years of age or older
- The Equal Pay Act, which was designed to prevent pay gaps between men and women
- The Americans with Disability Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities
Understanding and abiding by these laws is crucial for employers because failure to do so is an open invitation to lawsuits.
The bottom line is that workplace diversity offers many benefits and is a priority in many of today’s top companies. Staying open to employing individuals from a variety of backgrounds can be the catalyst for positive change and can propel your business into the 21st century.