What are the potential payoffs from investing in an integrated diversity initiative? The initiative can improve two major areas: organizational effectiveness and employee satisfaction, two target outcomes that each support the other.
Communication. Though everyone at your company may speak English, that doesn’t mean they all speak the same language. Different experiences lead to different vocabulary, different communication choices, and different communication styles. An effective diversity initiative can improve organizational communication, which can lead to clearer expectations, fewer errors, and more productive teams, as well as increased employee satisfaction.
Culture. Your organizational culture defines “How we do things around here,” and as a result impacts everything from employee expectations and work ethic to how your people treat clients and each other. An inclusive culture helps people feel not only included, but also invested in the work of your company.
Innovation. Innovation has become the battle cry of the new decade, and one of the keys to being an innovative organization is to be open to and able to embrace and incorporate different ideas and viewpoints. A company that truly embraces diverse perspectives is more likely to foster and cultivate innovation at all levels of the organization.
Adaptability. America’s shifting demographics are a topic in countless discussions of political, economic, and global concerns. What will these shifting demographics mean for business? It’s impossible to say—but a business that embraces diversity and inclusiveness now will be able to adapt to whatever changes may come, as they come, and will be better prepared for the future, whatever it looks like. Such an organization will be, by definition, more flexible, more adaptive, and more capable of including new experiences, perspectives, and skill sets, all of which will be critical for long-term success.
Recruitment. A workforce that seamlessly integrates diverse people, perspectives, and experiences will be more welcoming to new talent and better able to assimilate that new talent. It will also recruit better, thanks to word of mouth (happy employees recruiting friends, and leading your recruitment marketing efforts voluntarily) and the personal experience of prospects who come to interview with you and meet your employees as part of the interview process. Top recruits are more likely to come work for you if they feel welcome, and feel genuine enthusiasm from the people they meet in interviews than if they worry if they will fit in or don’t feel the love from their future co-workers.
Retention. According to a Psychology Today article from December 2011, a Gallagher Organization statistic “reports that more than 60 percent of current employees are planning to leave their positions as soon as another opportunity presents itself.” As the economy rebounds and hiring picks up, more and more companies will be faced with more and more employees seeking greener grass. But satisfied employees—who value their work environment and get along well with their teams—will be less tempted than unsatisfied employees to jump ship. An integrated diversity initiative can lead to better employee retention through improved communication among employees, and ensuring that all employees feel heard, valued, and validated.