Diversity: A Business Strategy That Works
Not investing in a diverse workforce is a huge drawback for business.
3 min read
Diversity in the workplace has taken a backseat for quite some time now - but its absence hasn’t gone unnoticed. Recent years have seen a wave of diversity reports published by a number of major tech companies. Google, Twitter, Netflix - all have had to face the reality that their workforce shows a disregard for diversification. But why does any of this even matter? Well, the need to focus on this issue is more than just ensuring a heterogeneous work force for the sake of inclusivity. If a company wants to succeed, diversity is key.
Discrimination and Diversity
When diversity is not set higher up on a company's agenda, it can brew an environment of discriminatory behaviour. As we all know, one company in particular who has recently been scrutinised over this exact issue is the car sharing giant, Uber. In early 2017, female employees, unhappy with their treatment, began filing complaints against the company’s managers. A flood of reports came rushing in concerning cases of sexual harassment, and a toxic company culture.
Any steps Uber were going to have to take next involved understanding why this behaviour was happening in the first place. The causes were brought to light after the release of their diversity report. Numbers showed that men occupied roughly 80% of all leadership positions. The problem with this is that male dominated workplaces often lead to negative social climates for female employees. It results in lower levels of social support in the workplace, performance pressures, and as mentioned before, sexual harassment.
But this story is not just isolated to Uber. Sexual misconduct runs rampant in the tech industry where diversity is not seen as a priority. A survey conducted in Silicon Valley showed that more than 60% of women had faced some form of sexual harassment at work. Unsurprisingly, the issue of diversity runs even deeper. Reports also highlighted the need to further discuss racial discrimination as well. People of colour were visibly underrepresented in the workplace, often holding less than 5% of positions within the company. Working within such environments impedes employee productivity, and in turn, the success of the company. Businesses with positive philosophies geared towards improving the quality of life for their customers should focus that same credo towards those in their own company in the form of mutual respect and collaboration.
Innovation and Change
But there is more to the story of diversity that companies are missing out on, specifically how it fosters innovation. A diverse group of people will bring different Instead of one single voice, you have multiple voices. Each of them joining forces and speaking up to improve the company. For instance, a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review indicated that companies which employed a diverse workforce were 45% more likely to grow market share.
Another explanation for this innovation and success could be that diversity doesn’t just make its mark on the internal employee relations, but with its clients, partners, and consumers as well. As our world becomes more global, so do our markets. Business is now done with people from all walks of life. This is why it becomes important to focus on diversity and build a staff that reflects these standards. It will then also help ensure that when working with foreign clients and partners that it is done so in a respectful manner.
But releasing the reports, and acknowledging the lack of diversity is one thing; to take action is another. Uber has recently taken a step in the right direction by partnering with Girls Who Code, so watch that space. Realistically, change won’t happen overnight. This will take time, but it’s an essential path for a company to take in hopes to promote fairness, accountability, and to ensure a company’s success.
Sophie van Wersch recently graduated with honors from the University College of Maastricht with a B.A., and majored in International Politics and Sociology. During her time at university she concentrated on the ways in which technology played a part in political events, and society as a whole. Since graduating, she has taken time off to prioritise her online courses in both computer science, and social media management. Although having majored in more of a political study, she intends to build a career in the video game industry - specifically, project management and/or the social media management of video games.