Diversity is the new language of the global economy. Even if you’re not doing business internationally, your own neighborhood is becoming more diverse every day.
The good news? Whether you’re looking to add younger workers, put more women in charge, incorporate more voices from people of color, or make your office more LGBTQ-friendly, there’s plenty of space to be made and lessons to learn from a diverse workforce.
Here are a few key benefits of workplace diversity, especially for safety professionals.
A Variety of Perspectives
If you don’t represent a variety of perspectives, you won’t hear a variety of perspectives – and that puts your workplace at a disadvantage.
The idea is simple. If you fill a room with people who all have the same experiences, the same culture, the same backgrounds, and the same perspectives, all you’ll get is the same batch of ideas. But when you bring in more voices, you get the chance to hear ideas you may not have thought of before.
For example, did you know that in 2016 disabled Americans controlled $544 billion in disposable income? How many of your ideas were targeted toward this segment of the population? You may not have even realized the ways in which your business could do more to help disabled customers.
To understand why, turn to the architects of Galludet University, America’s only liberal arts college for the deaf and hard of hearing. Galludet’s Sorenson Language and Communication Center has architecture geared toward the deaf, from wide entryways to allow more room for signing to horseshoe-shaped benches to create conversation circles allowing signers to see each other.
Without diverse voices, many of your most creative and genuinely useful innovations may never even occur to you. Sameness fosters sameness, but diverse voices give you an opportunity to foster a new kind of creativity.
Let’s say, for example, you’re trying to market a product to help women stay safe. How do you expect to speak to women about safety if you don’t have any women telling you what a woman’s primary safety concerns are?
It’s simple: the more diversity you invite into your organization, the more diverse ideas you’ll have, which means you’ll have a greater opportunity to solve problems creatively.
Last but not least, increased workplace diversity translates to improved workplace performance.
Research by the Harvard Business Review has shown that people like to fit in, so if you have a homogenous culture and a worker feels like they don’t fit in, they’ll be extremely wary of sticking their neck out. As a result, you stifle cognitive diversity and limit your team’s ability to solve problems, even if you have the diversity available to approach a problem differently.
Increasing diversity helps employees feel more secure as part of a group, which helps bolster their confidence as a contributing member of their team. As a safety professional, that means getting unique insights that could turn a problem on its head.
Taking Steps Toward Workplace Diversity
You know you need workplace diversity, but the reality is that changing your workplace culture is a long-term investment, much like any other safety measure. It starts with learning what you need to change.
For more best practices on how to make your workplace stronger, make sure to check out the EHS Insight Blog.