Diversity is one of the essential tools for an organization to perform better in the business world. Research highlights that contribution of diversity to an organization's financial success outlines multiple reasons, such as having a multitude of problem-solving approaches, boosting creativity, learning via dialogues, and changing the status quo. Yet, we have arrived at a point where having diversity in the workplace is regarded as an achievement.
Diversity serves as the key indicator of the organization's overall performance. Meredith Morales, Senior Program Manager of Inclusion Recruiting, Innovation, and Solutions at LinkedIn, says, “Beyond demographic shifts, diversity directly impacts the financial future of a company.” McKinsey & Company report stated, “companies with more ethnically diverse executive teams are 33 percent more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.
However, recent research indicates that having a diverse workforce does not contribute to an organization's financial productivity; sometimes, it can lead to conflict. Harvard Business School Professor Robin Ely and Professor Emeritus David Thomas stated, “taking an ‘add diversity and stir’ approach, while business continues as usual, will not spur leaps in your firm’s effectiveness or financial performance. Instead, it needs to be harnessed correctly. Otherwise, it can lead to tension and conflict.”
So, the question arises, how can we create a workplace incorporating diversity without conflict?
For the promotion of diversified teams, employers need to embrace empathic leadership. They need to self-evaluate their attitudes and uncover any biases, particularly during the retention, promotions, and development of diverse individuals.
Moreover, employers need to consider the diverse voices in the team and always carry out constructive debates. Constructive conflict can pave the way for organizational growth and change. This required the art of having crucial conversations or conflict management skills to steer the inevitable disagreements in a diverse team toward a beneficial direction.
Respect Towards Diverse Cultures And Beliefs:
For a diversified workplace, employers must have an understanding of other religious values and beliefs. This is referred to as cultural competence. It is essential in building effective professional interactions with persons from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Potential employees in our workplaces come from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds. The organization should celebrate differences and highlight their benefits so that teams can build on them and support them in action.
Eliminate Gender-Biased Roles:
McKinsey & Company mentioned in a report that companies with greater gender diversity among executive teams generated more profitability and value creation than companies with fewer women in executive positions.
Many industries have gender-specified roles which do not incorporate diversity within the company. The company underestimates the women's capabilities in the sector, and therefore they have an under-representation of women in the industry.
Syeda Sadaf Shah is a team leader for the drilling and completions department at an upstream oil and gas organization operating in Pakistan. This sector is known as one of the least gender-diversified in the world. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), in 2021, women held only about one-quarter of entry-level positions in the industry.
Syeda Sadaf Shah advised the organization to create a gender balance environment. She says, “I would advise managers to treat everyone fairly without considering gender limitations. Further, she adds, “Girls are equally or, at times, more competent than guys in the workplace and have the potential to grow as future leaders.”
Some cultures represent women as delicate and physically weak as compared to men. There is a typical stereotype that women need to be rescued and cannot manage their leadership duties. Therefore, the representation of women in leadership roles is far few.
The company needs to break the biases and build a diverse workforce and hire people, especially women, to embrace the concept of diversity in the workplace. The culture and employees of an organization benefit significantly from workplace diversity.
Elise Awwad, Chief Operating Officer at DeVry University, says, “Diversity allows companies to adopt a different lens to solve challenges, operate the organization and keep it strong."
However, approaching diversity is not always as simple and a superficial concept, especially when it comes to gender balance in the workplace.
In a country like Pakistan, the average number of female employees in an organization is around 21%. The majority of this 21 percent are at the entry-level, with significantly fewer in senior management. They often earn less than their male colleagues while carrying a more significant share of home obligations. Although there are exceptions, these unspoken principles apply not only in Pakistan but throughout the world.
For these particular cases, privileged women should take a stance against societal biases and make their presence felt by participating in the organization's central roles in creating laws, influencing decision-making, and pushing for change outside our homes. Women need to be more engaged in collaborative activities and driven to progress.
Research and data show that women are less likely to apply for a job or a promotion unless they believe they meet all the requirements. In this circumstance, women need to have confidence in their capabilities and follow their dreams. Many women will experience success in life if they embark on a journey of self-belief.
In conclusion, workplace diversity is the most challenging part, especially for many male-dominated industries, but having diverse voices in the team can be valuable for the company’s success.
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” – Stephen Covey
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