I previously wrote an article on diversity in the boardroom and similar ideas apply in the workplace.

No one’s story is the same. Our background, upbringing and experiences are what make South Africa one of the Meccas of diversity.

Workplace Diversity – Your Competitive Advantage

Diversity in the workplace is incredibly potent and companies should be striving to achieve it. I’m not talking about the employment equity scorecards that are particular to the South African environment. I’m talking about cognitive workplace diversity in particular, which can give organisations a competitive edge.

It’s no longer just about “improving a company’s reputation” or “promoting inclusion”. Companies with a more diverse employees outperform their competitors and achieve greater profits.

Diversity ensures different perspectives

Skills and problem-solving are developed through our experiences. Diversity in the workplace means access to a variety of different skills and perspectives. This is highly beneficial in terms of planning and executing business strategies.

Diversity increases creativity

Employees with different backgrounds bring different perspectives from the richness of their experiences. Exposure to a variety of different perspectives and views leads to higher creativity.

When you bring together people, who see the same thing in different ways, you create a space where creativity and new ideas can flow. It follows that inclusive companies can be innovation powerhouses. Where creativity flows innovation grows.

Diversity improves problem-solving

A study by Harvard Business Review found that diverse teams solve problems quicker than cognitively similar people. These mixed groups have diverse interpretations and solutions to problems – essentially leading to quicker and more efficient problem-solving.

Diversity leads to better solutions

A white paper from online decision-making platform Cloverpop found that workplace diversity and effective decision-making are directly linked.

The study found that when diverse teams were used in the decision-making process, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time.

When different backgrounds and perspectives are brought together, better solutions are formed which leads to a more knowledgeable and improved decision-making process.

As a result, companies with diversity in the workplace achieve better business results and in turn reap more profit.

Diversity and inclusion lead to higher employee engagement

Research conducted by Deloitte, captured the views and experiences of 1,550 employees in three large Australian businesses operating in manufacturing, retail and healthcare.

The results of their research indicated that engagement is a direct outcome of inclusion and workplace diversity. Simply put, when employees feel included, they are more engaged. So for employers seeking to drive deeper engagement, focusing on the inclusion element along diversity could deliver real results.

The authors of the research paper identify perceptions of fairness and respect; and value and belonging are drivers of feelings of inclusion. This is pertinent in a South African context where ethnic ‘diversity’ is targeted through the scorecard approach.

Workplace diversity improves employee retention

An inclusive work environment results in employees feeling more accepted and valued. When employees feel positive and acknowledged in workplace, they are more likely to stay with a company for longer, decreasing overall employee turnover rates.

Diversity improves company reputation

Although it’s no longer a focal point, workplace diversity can help improve a company’s reputation.

It’s fair to say that companies that promote diversity in the workplace are naturally seen as more socially responsible organisations. Additionally, workplace diversity makes companies look more appealing and relatable to different people, which in turn opens new possibilities, markets, customers and potential business partners.

Workplace diversity improves hiring results

Increasing workplace diversity results in a more desirable place to work, which is especially beneficial when trying to attract top talent from diverse talent pools.

A survey conducted by Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers looked at how diverse a company’s workforce was when considering job offers.

Marjorie Ngwenya – Let’s talk about Diversity in the Workplace

Cognitive diversity improves organisational performance and is a subject of great interest for me. I have had the pleasure of being involved with many speaking engagements and conferences over the years.

I have had my fair share of experiences of being ‘different’. I have lived and worked in five countries and often been a minority in my professional circles. I have had to navigate different cultures and be very adaptable.

For more information about my speaking engagements, please send me an email at [email protected] and I will get back to you.