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How diversity can affect your bottom line

By Barney Ely, Director of Hays Human Resources

Diversity is well established as a moral requirement in today’s world of work, but many businesses are still failing to recognise the commercial benefits of a diversity-driven culture. Profits, engagement and productivity can all benefit from inclusivity within the workplace, if it is applied correctly.

Diversity is important, but it should not be seen as an end goal. Leveraging and implementing what the results of that policy bring, we can truly begin to see the business value of diversity. Here are some examples of how diversifying your workforce can benefit your organisation:

1. Expand your client reach

Think about the wide range of backgrounds your clients may come from. By hiring employees that understand their needs will alternatively create better customer service. In relation to this, Goldman Sachs University in Tokyo expresses how important a diverse workforce actually is. Vice President Sherry Greenfield explains: “Our clients are diverse. The only way we are going to have diversity of thought is to have it as a fundamental business principle. The benefits of the business are more creativity, better service for our clients, and a positive impact on the business bottom line.”

2. Diversify your recruitment process

Often without realising it, hiring is hugely affected by bias and candidates are often categorised due to their appearance and personality. Jung Lee, Assistant Professor of Employment Relations and Organisation Behaviour at the LSE Department of Management, believes that companies should rethink how they assess candidates through their CV and interview process. 
While we might initially be drawn to a more confident, outgoing candidate, research shows that there are just as many business advantages to candidates of a more reserved nature. Where ‘extroverted’ people have the advantage of optimism and strong communication, those in the ‘reserved and introverted’ camp bring more logical thinking and realistic judgement 
By diversifying your workforce you can also attract and retain your staff more effectively. Our recent Gender Diversity Report 2017, showed that 77% of employees believe diversity and inclusion programmes are important to recruitment and retention.

3. Get the best out of your employees

How do you know you are a trusted leader? Leaders should be able to understand their team and play to their strengths to get the best out of them. An effective manager will use this knowledge to empower their employees to grow and maximise their individual talents. This will not only motivationally benefit them but enable them to make an impact within the organisation.

4. Acknowledge that this more than just a HR issue

Some companies, Ernst & Young in particular, have already embraced the path of cultural inclusivity. EY continuously supports and encourages diversity within the workplace and understand that this is about changing the majority, not targeting the minority. With this belief, they managed to increase their engagement score to 75% from just 5%, which (for their sector) was still quite high. EY’s Sally Bucknell – Head of Diversity & Inclusiveness UK&I – believes that “if you want to be a global player and engage global talent, the driver for creating a more inclusive is the fact that if you don’t change, you’ll be left behind.”

5. Mentor your employees to success

Mentoring is not just about developing talent, but also used to encourage staff to be confident with their ideas, enabling them to flourish individually. Companies can use this to broaden diversity of thought. As Thea Watson, Marketing Director of Hays UK & Ireland points out: “Having a mentor is incredibly important as they can help employees see the bigger picture.” A mentor challenges people to think differently, an opportunity to test new ideas and an open dialogue of diversity of thought.

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Barney joined Hays in 1993 as a business graduate and is now Director for Hays Human Resources. Barney also has operational responsibility for Hays offices across the South of England, placing professionals in over 20 industry sectors covering everything from accountancy and finance to construction, IT education and healthcare.

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