What is diversity?
Diversity is a perception that is based on individual acceptance and respect. It is an understanding that each and every individual are unique and different on many levels. In short, diversity refers to the physical differences in people and also the non-physical differences. Diversity is built on the principles of equal employment opportunity to include inherent differences such as gender, age, ethnicity, race, cultural / linguistic background, sexual orientation and / or gender identity, intellectual and / or physical ability (Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2011).
Diversity is becoming an integral part of life and more importantly at the workplace. ...view middle of the document...
Businesses that are thinking that there isn’t a business case to embrace diversity are hugely myopic and are positioning themselves for an extremely short future. Business literature over the past decades has promoted the importance of diversity hugely. Diversity helps organisations create competitive advantages. The business benefits of a diverse workforce are well known. Organizations that employ people from a wide variety of backgrounds are known to be productive and happier. Diversity is good for business. “CEB research found that in a more diverse and inclusive workforce, individual discretionary effort improves by 12%, intent to stay improves by 20%, and team collaboration and commitment improve by about 50%. (The Corporate Executive Board Company, 2012)”. Working in an organization environment where divergent perspectives are valued makes employees want to work harder, stay longer, and be stronger team players. Why should businesses then embrace diversity?
Firstly, diversity increases creativity because heterogeneous groups are cross-fertilizing one another within the organization. People will have various ways of looking at a problem that could lead to a common solution. An employee who had an experience in another country could provide a different perspective of looking at the same problem. It could be the first time that the others could be experiencing the problem at the workplace. For example, employees from China working in American companies may approach a problem totally differently than do American workers. Some companies have successfully created innovative processes by taking ideas from several employees.
Diversity also increases productivity, you could have employees from Asian countries who are strong at analytical / quantitative skills, employees from European countries who may do well in high-level jobs and employees from Australia who produce creative and quality products. Imagine putting all of these strong skills into an organisation; it will only increase productivity where people are doing much more with lesser resources thus becoming a competitive advantage for a business.
Next, diversity brings about new attitudes to the business table by people from diverse backgrounds. For instance, Americans may want to consider adopting the perspective other cultures have about time. Most of American culture believes that “time is money” and “getting to the bottom line” is paramount in business. However, in most other countries around the world “time is for building relationships” and an integral part of getting to know the other party you are considering doing business with before starting a transaction. How much of an advantage would workplace diversity be if we followed this practice more closely (Lee, 2014)?
Diversity at the workplace also brings together employees who are proficient at speaking different languages and this is a huge advantage. In a globalised business environment where companies would like...