When you next glance around your workplace, take a moment to think. Has a disabled person ever worked here? When was the last time an ethnic minority became a member of senior management? Have two women ever been board members at the same time?
Are any of the answers to these questions yes?
Perhaps, as is the case for most contemporary organisations, all of your company’s employees are within that group that we as a society continuously fail to recognise as privileged: the norm.
The questions that I listed above are ones which have increasingly come to the forefront of businesses’ minds. Rising levels of equality in terms of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age and disability have allowed more people to enter the workforce. Therefore, in order to attract, and retain, new talent, businesses have to understand that homogeneous attitudes to employees, and one-size-fits-all initiatives, are no longer appropriate.
Here at Aspire, we wanted to find out what people really thought about the growth of Millennials in the workforce. We conducted a series of surveys, sent out to both our UK and APAC clients and candidates in the Marketing, Media, Digital, Sales and Technology fields, in order to collect their thoughts regarding Millennials. By collecting this information, we hoped to address whether Marketing leaders and HR professionals need to consider such trends in order to acquire new talent, and retain their star employees.
What is Diversity?
Generally, Diversity in the workplace is about mixing different groups of people, and understanding the insights that each type can bring.
However, Diversity means a different thing here in the East compared to the West. There is larger focus on promoting harmony between the different elements of the workforce, rather than celebrating the uniqueness of each employee. Furthermore, Diversity’s definition across the APAC region differs widely. Various emphasises are placed on different subunits of society in each country. In Japan, for instance, Diversity in the workplace refers almost exclusively to gender.
Despite this, there are common elements within that broad term ‘Diversity’ which are increasingly coming to the attention of APAC employers as important to consider. These can range from neurodiversity to being a veteran.
Is Diversity important in the workplace?
It has been proven that having employees from a range of diverse backgrounds reaps its own rewards for a company. For instance, a 2018 study by the Boston Consulting Group, which studied 1700 different companies across 8 different countries, found that having diverse management teams led to a 19% higher revenue. Sounds pretty good, right?
The revenue is likely higher because having diverse leadership creates different perspectives on work issues. As people from different backgrounds bring in their rich experiences, the business gets better equipped for quick decision-making.
How can we encourage Diversity in the workplace?
Our candidate survey showed that 30% of respondents don’t think that their company considers diversity when recruiting. In light of its proven advantages, this seem out of place.
However, enforced Diversity measures that could be taken to improve this can be controversial. There are two main arguments concerning this, which broadly argue for either individuality or equality. The ‘individuality’ argument is also the multicultural approach; differences are acknowledged openly and celebrated. The ‘equality’ argument is the ‘colour-blind’ argument; differences are ignored, and candidates are hired purely on skill.
In reality, the only way for a colour-blind approach to work in creating Diversity in the workplace is to ensure that all integrated biases that we have as a society are removed. It is natural for people to make judgements on others, and that some groups have more privilege compared to others when it comes to acquiring the skills that are valued by recruiters.
Within our report, we acknowledge that employers cannot expect to fill gaps without shifting attitudes, and put forward ideas on how to influence change. These include planning an effective recruitment strategy which includes blind interviews, adding supportive aids such as disability ramps to an office space, and networking with charities.
Clearly, encouraging Diversity in the workplace is beneficial both to employees and employers, as it forces the company to value its workers more. As a result, the worker will begin to value the company more as well.
Ensuring that you have a spread of different types of employees is a necessary method of boosting your company morale, your retention rates, and therefore your competitiveness.
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