Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis
It is easy to forget the lessons of history, even recent history. Not that long ago, the workplace was anything but diverse. A low percentage of women were in the workplace. Minorities faced both stated and unstated obstacles that minimized their inclusion. While there is still considerable room for progress there is no doubt that today’s workplace is far more diverse than it was fifty or sixty years ago. Yet, the global marketplace means that the importance of diversity has never been greater.
Businesses Gain an Edge
Business owners are coming to realize more and more that a diverse workplace has ample advantages. At the top of the list is the issue of benefits of diversity is globalization. Having employees that come from different backgrounds and perspectives can be invaluable in the global marketplace. And if these employees just happen to speak additional languages, then you have a substantial bonus!
Globalization has led to an increased need for those that not only understand other cultures, but also can navigate their way through them. Making strides in business is often about effective communication, and a more diverse workforce can often help achieve this and more.
More Varied Perspectives
“Diversity: the act of thinking independently together.” Malcolm Stevenson Forbes
A more diverse workforce also means a greater diversity of opinion and perspective. The old saying that, “Where everyone thinks alike no one thinks very much,” should always be remembered when considering diversity in the workplace. The more varied the backgrounds, the more likely it is to reach and discover unexpected solutions to problems. Increasingly, the world is a digital one and that means that new ideas are often the new fuel. Diversity can help provide that fuel.
By embracing diversity, it is possible to pool candidates from across the globe. As a result, businesses are able to find the very best candidates for jobs or find candidates with skill sets that might be lacking locally.
A Boost to Harmony and Understanding
“Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.” Jacqueline Woodson
Perhaps the ultimate benefit of diversity is that it can help bring about greater understanding and harmony between people. The greater the personal bonds between people from diverse backgrounds, the greater the level of understanding.
Communication is the key to eliminating and reducing hostility. Ultimately, this leads to a fairer and more stable society in which all citizens benefit. It is easy to be suspicious of others when exposure to different kinds of people is low.
By embracing diversity, businesses are helping to reduce social tension and potentially even political tension between countries. The end result is a more harmonious world and maybe even greater profits as well! In the end, there is considerable strength in diversity.
Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis is the President/CEO of the Executive Women’s Success Institute (www.exwsi.com) in Maryland. She is a career strategist, business consultant, speaker, trainer and the author of Finding Your Best Inside: How to Persevere and Become the Person You Are Meant to Be and Playing from the Blue Tee: Women in the Federal Government. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com.