Diversity refers to all those human qualities that are different from our own but manifested in other individuals. It is those traits and characteristics that make us unique and help us be different from everyone else. If you look around, you are bound to see diversity because it is everywhere. No two people that you meet over the course of a day will be same. However, strangely when it comes to having diversity in an organisation, there is still some work that needs to be done. Is it because sometimes too much importance is given to appearances, beliefs, lifestyle and physical ability, gender etc. rather than focusing on the results that can be delivered by the person? Irrespective of the reasons, it is clear from recent studies that it is imperative for corporations to create a diverse workforce.
Why is diversity important?
1. There’s not much that we can achieve single handedly. There is a saying, “You are good but not good enough” and that in many ways is the crux of diversity. What we can achieve collectively can never be achieved by a single person. How can a company ever grow if everyone in the company is thinking the same thing? How can we ever innovate, if everyone comes up with the same solution? How can we progress if everyone thinks of walking the same path? As human beings we constantly evolve, and innovate. Can you really think of creativity and innovation without having a diverse workforce? Would any of the market leaders achieve what they have, if they didn’t have diversity of thoughts?
2. Customer bases are constantly changing and evolving across industries. Unless we are able to connect with customers and mirror their needs, we will not be able to deliver in the increasingly complex and diverse environment. For example, a leading bank changed its hiring strategy of hiring recent graduates for one of its branches and hired more mature and experienced professionals as the customer base was typically over 50 years old.
3. Many leading research firms have invested significantly in diversity programs and can confirm that diversity has a direct correlation to business performance. The McKinsey Women Matters 2013 Report suggests that companies with top-quartile representation of women in executive committees perform significantly better than companies with no women at the top resulting in +47% average return on equity and + 55% average earnings before tax.
Diversity has always been important and will always be important. We can come up with many more reasons and benefits (and the list will be endless) but the organizations that are aware of the benefits are already embracing it and progressing much faster than those who are still deliberating the need for diversity. The journey has begun. And it’s always more fun being a part of the leading brigade than being a bystander…the choice is ours!