Why Is Diversity Important in the Workplace

Mary Gormandy White
Diversity at Work
Cultural Diversity In the Workplace

Why is diversity important in the workplace? This is a question that many managers and small business owners are asking. Diversity is an important factor influencing the modern business environment that impacts companies of all sizes and in all industries.

Understanding Why Is Diversity Important In the Workplace

Regardless of the type of business you are in, your organization exists in the context of a global marketplace that is characterized more by differences among people than by sameness. Customers, employees, vendors, and others that you come in contact with on a regular basis are likely to come from all walks of life. Whether your company operates a retail location that is frequented by customers or if you conduct business primarily by telephone or online, chances are that you and the people who work for and with you are likely to encounter people from many nationalities and cultural backgrounds on a regular basis.

These differences result in differences in languages, values, and beliefs. It's necessary to prepare the people who are employed by your organization to interact effectively with all of the different types of people they'll need to work with in the context of their jobs if you want them - and your business - to be able to enjoy success. As a business owner or manager, it's up to you to teach the members of your workforce how to communicate with business associates and customers regardless of cultural differences. Doing so involves raising employee awareness of diversity related issues and providing them insight regarding effective cross cultural communication.

Diversity and the Business Environment

The term diversity refers to the high degree of variation that exists within the population, and is often used to describe the differences among coworkers. When thinking about diversity at work, most people tend to focus on cultural differences associated with nationality and ethnicity.

As the population becomes more diverse, it certainly stands to reason that the demographic composition of the workforce will change proportionally. However, the concept of diversity does not have to be limited to differences in skin color, language spoken or religious beliefs. While it's true that the fact people from many different nations and cultures are represented in the modern workforce is an important aspect of diversity, it is certainly not the only one.

For example, many businesses are making recruiting decisions that introduce additional diversity into their offices, plants, and stores on a daily basis. Human resources professionals frequently turn to nontraditional recruiting resources to meet their staffing needs for a variety of reasons, including compliance with legal requirements for non-discriminatory hiring practices and the need to find workers who have the right mix of skills.

In order to meet their staffing goals, modern companies often reach out to hire people living with various types of disabilities, individuals who may have less than spotless criminal histories, seniors who are beyond traditional retirement age, and people from other segments of the population that differ from the majority. All of these efforts result in a working environment that is characterized by diversity.

The Changing Face of Business

The demographic composition of the workforce has been evolving for a long time, and is likely to continue to do so in the future. Why is diversity important in the workplace? As recruiting efforts become more far reaching and diversity within the global population continues to increase, it certainly makes sense that the face of the modern workplace is changing in many ways. Individuals who plan to continue to function in the workplace - and in society as a whole - are well served to learn how to relate just as effectively with people who are very different from themselves that they can to those who they see as similar.

Why Is Diversity Important in the Workplace