How important is workplace diversity to your small business?
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The scope of diversity in business has broadened over the years. Today’s diversity model impacts every small business – including yours:
“Diversity is about recognizing, respecting and valuing differences … These life experiences and personal perspectives make us react and think differently; approach challenges and solve problems differently; make suggestions and decisions differently; and see different opportunities. Diversity, then, is also about diversity of thought. And superior business performance requires tapping into these unique perspectives.” – Chubb Insurance Group (USA)
However, diversity is often overlooked.
According to a 2011 Forbes Insight survey of 300 multi-national executives, “41% identified the ‘failure to perceive the connection between diversity and business drivers’ as a barrier to developing and implementing a diversity strategy.” (Source: Deloitte 2011)
Therefore, for companies to truly think like their customers, they must first know and embrace them; it’s an inside job.
In fact, research indicates that workplace diversity delivers marked benefits including improvements in customer satisfaction, productivity, profitability and employee retention. Communicating diversity as a core company value can distinguish your small business in a hyper-competitive market.
Bridging the Gap of Diversity and Company Culture
As a small business owner, you can’t truly address workplace diversity without first paying attention to company culture. After all, it is the lifeblood of your organization; it can make or break your company. “Products and companies are built by people,” Jean-Marc Freuler, CEO of Funding Gates explains. “In order to build the best product in the world … [you] need to get one thing right: the culture.”
Bain & Company research found that “nearly 70% of business leaders agree: Culture provides the greatest source of competitive advantage. In fact, more than 80% believe an organization that lacks a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity.”
Your company culture sends the general public a simple message: “This is how we conduct business.” Culture is the glue that holds everything together.
However simplistic your message may be, company culture is comprised of several moving parts; core values, routines, work environment, management structure, branding, and company goals. It tells employees, “This is a great place to work.” It says to customers, “We operate a business that you can relate to and trust.” It declares to all stakeholders, “This is what you can expect from us.”