Diversity Is Good For The Bottom Line: What Businesses Can Do To Overcome Barriers

When people ask for examples of success in diversity I automatically think of the business field because of the benefits and proven success documented in this area of society. However, despite the fact that diversity is good for the bottom line we continue to see so much resistance to the idea because many see it as a threat to their way of life, or it seems complicated to achieve or it even seems expensive.

Although it is understandable for companies that haven’t commit to diversity and inclusion to be skeptical about the benefits of that approach, the evidence that diversity is good for the bottom line is undeniable and exciting if your brand or business is looking to improve its competitive advantage in a market that continues to evolve and is increasingly diverse.

As the marketplace continues to grow, there are two scenarios that play out in the business world: companies who have included diversity programs and those who fixate on what they see as barriers and downsides of diversity within their businesses. Many of the companies who believe that diversity is good for the bottom line have been creating diversity training and initiatives that seemed effective at first but aren’t really helping to increase diversity in the long run.

While diversity training helps to reduce unconscious bias and the implementation of tests and tools to aid the hiring process are important steps towards having a diverse workforce; these alone are not enough and at times and when not implemented properly can backfire and create resentment among employees while also not really improving the numbers in terms of the amount of diverse talent a company hires on a yearly basis. There is no doubt that diversity is good for the bottom line as many big companies benefit from the different perspectives and talents their diverse teams demonstrate, but a commitment to diversity has to be pair with consistent action.

Diversity Is Good For The Bottom Line ~ How To Overcome Common Barriers

As the United States becomes more diverse the need for practices that are diverse and inclusive only increase. The main, and more obvious, reason being to attract a higher number of customers and help their business grow; but there is also another reason that is not often discussed or acknowledged, the new American workforce is diverse with baby boomers entering retirement and millennials and youngsters generations being increasingly diverse, companies need to tap into the energy and innovation these new workers bring to the table.

With all of that being said, there are challenges that companies face when becoming diverse once they realize that diversity is good for the bottom line and also that it’s a matter of time for all companies and businesses to become diverse as the workforce changes. So, what are the challenges these companies are facing and which approach can help them overcome such challenges?

Here Are 3 Common Barriers & The Right Approach To Tackle Them

Discrimination. When a company starts increasing its diversity, it can face the resistance of its workforce with managers and supervisors could potentially discriminate against subordinates in ways that not always are so evident to the naked eye.
Approach. Creating a diversity culture that has strategies in place to keep those with power accountable in the way they lead teams. It can’t be a crime and punishment approach because that will only generate negative feelings and more subtle behavior, it has to become part of the company’s culture of inclusivity in which all employees feel inspired to work together and push the company forward.

Communication. While workers in the United States for the most part can communicate in English, when it comes to communication within teams with diverse employees, language barriers and different cultural backgrounds can complicate matters and create tension.
Approach. Developing a company communication style and establishing appropriate channels and procedures might seem like such a hassle in the early stages of implementation, but will give employees a standard practice and will help ease doubts and empower those who struggle with language, but also it will give people a starting point to establishing communications before they get to know one another and learn on their own the best ways to communicate on an individual basis. The idea is not to standardize to force people into a box, but to offer them a starting point for understanding.

Cost. One of the complaints from companies, especially midsize and small businesses,  interested in diversity programs is how much these new programs and approaches are going to cost. The issue of money is valid as businesses work to generate money and spending needs to be justify and have tangible, verifiable benefits for the company.
Approach. Like I said before, diversity is good for the bottom line and as you increase the diversity within your company, you will reap the benefits. That being said, to begin such a process requires some investment. One of the things I recommend is to start by involving your current workforce in learning and embracing a diverse approach to doing business. Before buying the shiny tool to hiring diverse employees, paying for tests or getting outside consultants, start with a small scale diversity training webinar, put in writing what you hope to achieve with a more diverse workforce and engage teams in the process. That way, when you are reading to invest, you’ll have a clear picture of your needs and will spend on the things your company really needs.

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© Dania Santana ~ Embracing Diversity
Multiculturalism, Diversity & Inclusion Expert | Author | Speaker
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