There are almost 200 countries in the world and each of them operates differently than those around it. Countries that share borders can have completely different languages, accents and cultures. The people within those countries probably have different values than those in the next city. The families in those cities might even have a drastically different life than their next-door neighbors. No matter if you’re comparing different countries with people of a different color and language, or people who live down the street from each other, there is one constant – everyone’s different and we all have something to learn from each other.
Embracing diversity doesn’t just mean learning a new language and eating at a restaurant that you wouldn’t typically go to, instead, it really means understanding those around you and trying to learn as much as you can about their culture so that you can build meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships. If you’re unwilling to learn about others, then how could you ever expect them to learn about you? With so many people and so many backgrounds, it can seem intimidating to leave your comfort zone, but once you take that step, all of the others become much easier.
“An inclusive workplace – one in which people feel they belong and to which they can bring the richness of their experiences to work every day – is imperative for any organization that wants to succeed in the global marketplace,” says Jim Powers, a writer for HuffPost. Diversity and inclusion have been important themes for a long time, and their importance is growing more and more every day. With all of the new technologies in the world at everyone’s fingertips, the ability to meet new people and access resources available to various countries is exploding. Today, if a big business isn’t accessing new, diverse locations then they’re missing out on opportunity that is likely going straight to their competition.
Not only do businesses need to embrace opportunity and diversity, but their employees need to embrace it too. Businesses and employees sharing values is what creates a recipe for success and room for growth that one couldn’t hope to do without the help of the other. It’s not enough that a business wants to access new markets and employ new talent from a wide range of backgrounds, but they also need people that can help them reach their goals. If you plan to work for a company and push your career to the next level, then embracing diversity is a must, otherwise, you’ll be left in the dust for someone with a much more open mind that aligns with the companies values.
According to a report from McKinsey, “for every 10 percent elevation in ethnic diversity in the executive leadership of US companies, there was a 0.8 percent improvement in EBIT.” When businesses emphasize diversity, they benefit from it. Knowing that means that if you, as an employee, also embrace and accept diversity, then you’re benefitting the company that you work for. When you talk with people from different cultures and you work to understand them, you’ll stick out in their mind as a nice, reliable resource, and that’s an important thing to be known as when it’s time to promote someone.
When you put diverse people into a group, it may breed some unexpected, but amazing ideas that range from practical and professional, to wacky and fun, and both have their merit. It’s ideas like these that will help a business stay ahead of its competition, and will give the employees some fun along the way. Diversity isn’t just about reaching different markets that a business couldn’t reach without them, it’s about finding outside talent that can make your business better and giving them a platform to excel. If you can work well with people that are bringing new ideas, then you and the business will benefit.
At this point in the article, you can see that having diversity in the workplace is good. It makes people creative, it adds different perspectives to the conversation, and it even increases revenue. Those are only three reasons out of a long, seemingly infinite list of reasons that diversity is important, so why do businesses struggle to implement diversity in a meaningful way? According to Forbes, the four elements of implementing diversity that are hardest to do well are clearly identifying what you are trying to achieve, copying and pasting initiatives that have worked in other organizations, following good design with good implementation, and really understanding the reason for the plan.
What all of this means is that implementing diversity into your organization isn’t a thoughtless task. If a company tries to half-heartedly add diversity simply to get the benefits, then they’re missing the point. To truly incorporate diversity, the organization needs to understand why they’re doing it, and really want to accomplish it instead of just wanting to see the results.
Now that we have covered some of the benefits that come with diversity, and the difficulty that some companies have in incorporating it, what can you do to help add it to your organization?
Step one is to want to add diversity, but not for revenue’s sake or just to fulfill some program that everyone else seems to be doing. Understanding why you want to add diversity and how it can add new perspectives isn’t as simple as reading an article saying that that’s true. For some, it could take an entire overhaul on how you see the workforce and the other people in it.
Step two is to create a custom program that works with your company, and find people who can operate it. If an employee who doesn’t understand the benefits of the program is told to enact it, then the program will fall flat and you’ll be no closer to your goals. There are people out there who understand the merits of programs like this, and it takes effort to find them and utilize them well.
Step three is giving people with diverse backgrounds opportunity to succeed in your business. If you allow diversity to thrive, you’ll attract more incredible talent and unique ideas. The world is full of amazing people, and finding them is only the beginning. Allowing them to grow their career is the next necessary step.
As a business, embracing diversity is a must. Embracing diversity might even be more important for an employee. No matter who you are or what entity you represent, the world is shrinking and diversity is becoming increasingly common and important for future growth. The next decision that you have to make is if you are willing to accept diversity, and let it be the catalyst that you need to push your career to the next level?
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