Diversity in the workforce has been a constant topic of debate over the past few years because of the impact it can potentially have on how small businesses function. According to Gusto, as many as 93% of small business owners actively attempt to hire minority workers, although the founders who are minorities themselves tend to have a larger representation of minorities in their businesses than owners who were white. Diversity is an important factor in getting different socioeconomic perspectives within a business in addition to sensitizing the business to multiple sub-cultures. A business with a diverse workforce tends to be a lot better suited to operating within the sphere of the twenty-first century than a business that attempts to be homogeneous in its hires.
How Beneficial is Diversity, Really?
From a business owner’s perspective, it might be difficult to see how inclusivity can be beneficial to a business, but a McKinsey study in 2018 found that businesses that have a diverse workforce in terms of gender tend to have an above-average bottom line, while companies without gender or ethnic diversity were likely to see as much as 29% fewer profits. Diversity offers a business the opportunity to expand and tap into resources that are available, and it also allows for hiring based on performance regardless of the race or gender of the hire. For a small business, this opens the door to multiple possibilities in departmental functionality. Having workers from diverse backgrounds allows a business to grow and flourish without being railroaded into a single perspective indicative of homogeneous workforces.
Diversity and Inclusion
A journal article by Morley, published in 2018, notes that diversity and inclusion are two separate things – diversity refers to the overall experiences of the individual, while inclusion is the steps an organization takes in order to make its employees feel welcome. We can’t discuss diversity without consideration for inclusion since one without the other would simply lead to employees feeling unwelcome and unhappy in their work environment. The responsibility of the employer does not cease after hiring but instead continues into the orientation and acceptance of the employee into the workplace. Creating a diverse workplace means ensuring that employees are aware of what other employees are going through. While in mature workplaces, discussion and the sharing of ideas usually leads to acceptance, in less mature workforces the company may need to help with the integration process by means of team-building exercises.
How Companies Find Diverse Employees
Hiring practices in diverse companies are usually a lot different from those in traditional businesses. Whereas traditional hiring managers have a set of boxes that need to be ticked, companies looking at diversity are usually more open to the idea of human experience instead of qualifications. Workers who have life experience tend to be more willing and able to work and create a positive working environment for those around them. Additionally, companies that aim for a more diverse workforce usually center their search in areas where minority workers exist. It is important to ensure that even though a company is centering on an area with a diverse workforce, that one doesn’t dismiss qualified workers of the majority out of hand either. It is a unique balance to consider both perspectives, and the best interests of the company are still the number one priority.
Not Just About Bottom Lines
Diversity, whether it be racial or gender diversity, or even disabled workers requiring hoyer lift slings, provides insight into a business and how it thinks. Equality of opportunity is what needs to be addressed – once minorities are given the same base level of consideration as the majority, it’s very likely that those minorities will come out on top. It’s important from a business perspective to do this, not just to fill some arbitrary goal in hiring, but to allow for decent opportunities to reach people who will benefit from them the most. At its core, diversity is a human problem. As Psychology Today mentions, humans are tribal and tend to congregate according to certain traits that they consider the same, while expelling those who don’t demonstrate those traits. Inclusion and diversity aim to change that mindset, but it’s not something that can or should be done just to hit numbers. In such a case, it’s guaranteed to fail. Diversity much benefit both the minority and the business, creating a positive feedback loop, in order to succeed.
The Humanity of the Issue
A business exists in order to bring benefit to humanity, but not just through the products and services it provides, but also the jobs that it creates. However, if those jobs are inaccessible by the portions of the workforce that could benefit from it as well as bring a determined work ethic to the table, then the business is failing in its mission to the community at large. For a business to succeed in being a part of the community, especially a small enterprise which depends on the community for its business, it must open its opportunities to a wider cross-section of the population. Being diverse isn’t about politics or profits it’s about people. It’s up to the business to figure out how to make those three things align, and if they do, success usually follows.
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