Why should organizations invest in workforce diversity?

bias Nov 06, 2017

Workforce diversity basically aims at bringing people with different backgrounds and charateristics such as race, ethnic groups, gender, age, personality types, thoughts, educational levels, etc. together. Diversity in workplace frequently results in the flow of novel ideas and approaches to a problem. It reflects on how an individual perceives himself with respect to others, thus, encouraging an intelligent and healthy work environment.

What is Workforce diversity?

Workforce diversity as a concept connotes to creating an inclusive environment that will accept an individual’s strengths, differences, and weaknesses. It should also provide opportunities to members of staff to help them realize their potential. Valuing and prioritizing difference and diversity allows a person to contribute their own unique experiences to a workplace. This has positive impact not only on internal activities or relationships, but also on customers as well as other stakeholders.

According to the available data, organizations and companies that are diverse, are increasingly smarter, innovative, and are able to retain staff better. Moreover, diversity makes for good business in the financial sense. Businesses, with greater diversity, witness increase in returns on investment (ROI); around 35 per cent for an ethnically diverse workforce and 15 per cent for gender-diverse organizations.

Companies are able to win prime talent and enhance employee satisfaction, so workers tend to stick. No wonder, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a gender-balanced cabinet comprising 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men in 2015. Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron also appointed a cabinet diverse in gender and political leanings.

Corporates spend large amounts of money on training in order to build a diversified workforce. However, according to the latest research such volunteer-driven efforts have not borne fruit as was expected. Despite the efforts, bias continues to exist in recruitment against workforce diversity. Point is it is difficult to eliminate unconscious bias from organizations.

Psychologists agree that everybody holds unconscious beliefs and prejudice against various social and ethnic groups, and that this bias stems from one’s tendency to organize social worlds into categories. Researchers have proved that we let extraneous factors influence our decisions. We often end up pre-judging candidates on the basis of unrelated factors such as educational background or place of origin. As per the psychologists, there are primarily three basic reasons that result in bias related to recruitment:

Similarity inclination: Generally, people are inclined towards hiring candidates who are similar to them. According to the similarity- attraction hypothesis, one has affinity towards people of similar character and that could mean sharing the same religious background or liking the same sport.

Physical appearance: Interviewers form an opinion about the candidates on the basis of their appearance ranging from their hairstyle, tattooed body or complexion. According to a study conducted by German Researchers, people underestimate the ability of obese individuals to achieve supervisory positions as compared to ‘normal-weight’ individuals.

Stereotypes: Interviewers invariably go with stereotypes. If a candidate is not from a known university, he may not be considered as a potential candidate or a female candidate may not be deemed fit for a number crunching role or sectors which are technology oriented.

Organizations must find out ways to put in place workforce diversity. This will have far reaching ramifications for an organization’s health and character and bodes well for a well-knit and caring society that is rid of discrimination and strife.

Note: Deskera is investing in training as well as encouraging policies to create a multicultural work environment.

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