A diverse workplace is no longer just comprised of various genders, races and sexual orientations. Many organizations are now embracing diversity when hiring to include perspectives, backgrounds, abilities, languages, age and education levels.
Employers are recognizing the powerful benefits of diversity delivering growth within the organization. For so many workforces, a diverse culture is no longer just desired, it’s becoming expected to maintain a business.
So, while it’s clear that diversity helps the organization itself thrive, you might be wondering how that affects you in the job search and as an employee.
There are actually some powerful benefits for employees as well and it’s important to look for them when seeking new employment.
Understanding and Acceptance of Others
Although you should never have to worry about not being accepted in the workplace, this is not always the case.
Unfortunately, some workplaces are less accepting than others and may not offer equal opportunity for all.
However, when you find work with a company that focuses on the concept of diversity, you can be sure that you’ll be entering a more accepting work environment.
Regardless of your gender, age, sexual orientation or race, everyone is given equal opportunity. In diverse workplaces, not only are differences acknowledged, they are even promoted.
For organizations that place a focus on diversity, it requires a deep understanding of each other’s differences. These varied teams usually possess a much better overall understanding of each other.
What this means for you is that your peers will be genuinely curious on getting to know you and what makes you unique. It will give you peace of mind to know that you can be open about your background and experiences without the fear of judgement from those around you.
This is particularly important for new applicants to have the freedom to be themselves right from the beginning.
So, what might an accepting and understanding workplace look like?
Well, a company that embraces diversity may be more welcoming of each employee’s unique circumstances. This may be as simple as accommodating a new mother by providing extra break time or a designated private room for nursing.
Some workplaces may wish to dedicate a specific gender-neutral washroom for those who do not wish to conform to gender norms. A diverse workplace should be as accommodating as possible for its employees.
A great example of an organization that focuses on diversity and acceptance in the workplace is Dropbox, headquartered in San Francisco. In the technology field, women have been the minority for a long time, but Dropbox is working hard to change that. The company is now comprised of 36% women overall, including technology and management positions.
They also have a recruitment process that reaches out to ethnic minorities, who now make up 45% of the entire company. They work hard to remove labels and allow their employees’ talent to shine through instead.
This is exactly how a diverse workplace should be. Your gender, age, race or other physical differences should not be deciding factors on who gets the job or who gets promoted within a company. Hard work and related experience are the deciding factors.
You should be given the freedom to be yourself at work and others can accept you for who you are.
Diverse Perspectives Promote Innovation
When a workplace is made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds and demographics, naturally there will be a more diverse range of perspectives. In a Forbes Insights study, 41% of people in America agree that diversity strongly drives innovation.
What this means for you is there will be more involvement from employees and better sharing of ideas within the organization. Working in an innovative workplace promotes growth and learning among peers. When employees are given the chance to build on each other’s thoughts, it becomes a more positive space for all.
In a diverse workplace, your ideas are more likely to be heard because everyone is given a voice.
This makes the work so much more engaging because you are encouraged to come up with new innovative solutions as a team. This study conducted by Harvard Business review showed that cognitively diverse teams actually solve problems faster.
When you start working at a diverse workplace, seek out interacting with people of different mindsets. You can grow and learn from those with different backgrounds and life experiences. This innovative culture is much more stimulating, lending itself to better job satisfaction and overall productivity.
You Can Be Authentically Yourself
Have you ever worked in an organization where you felt afraid to be your true self? It’s not a very healthy environment to be in.
That’s why it’s so important to seek a diverse workplace that encourages employees to feel comfortable in being who they really are.
In a workplace that lacks diversity, many problems can arise for those who feel like they don’t fit in. The working environment may become a very stressful one.
For example, if a young homosexual man gets a job at an organization made up of primarily middle-aged heterosexual men, he may feel uncomfortable speaking out about his sexual orientation.
Regardless of whether the other men were to judge him, it can be difficult to be your true self in a non-diverse culture. Hiding such an important piece of your identity can become extremely isolating and often results in feeling like you are living a double life.
However, this does not just apply to LGBTQ+ employees. When there is a lack of diversity, employees may not feel comfortable speaking about their culture, physical or mental health and a variety of other topics. This can be quite stressful to endure on a daily basis.
Concealing your identity should never be a problem at an organization that focuses on diversity. One of the main goals in a diverse culture is embracing what makes others unique, regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation or gender.
This diversity can completely change the interaction between colleagues in the workplace. When the entire organization is based off of accepting each other, it becomes a much more inclusive atmosphere. Being open about who you are allows you to form more trusting relationships.
Employees and employers alike can work together in such a positive environment. When you can be free to be yourself without judgement, your overall work experience will be heightened and you will be a happier person.
Alaska Airlines is a great example of a diverse workplace that encourages you to be yourself. The company signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge to create meaningful change in the workplace. This has helped transform the organization by focusing on making diversity central to the company.
They embrace their employees’ differences and use it to benefit everyone. Diverse environments like these are great because they allow you to embrace what makes others different, while they do the same for you in return.
Diversity and Equality in the Job Application Process
Have you recently been passed over for a job opportunity? If this occurs, first you will want to assess why you were bypassed for this role. Do you possess the proper experience, but think there may be an underlying reason for you not being considered for the job?
If so, then you may want to consider going somewhere else where you will be treated with fairness and equality. Right away, this is a red flag that this company lacks a diverse and accepting mindset.
If this company does not embrace diversity in the application process, they probably will not place high value on diversity at all.
Simply put, an applicant should be considered for the job because they are qualified, regardless of race or how they identify. The hiring process should be fair for all candidates possessing the proper experience. Diverse companies will welcome a wide range of applicants.
Promote Diversity After Being Hired
Once you have secured a job, don’t just forget about diversity – it’s important to continue to promote it in the workplace. An effective way to do this within the company is to lead by example. Work hard to succeed and always set an example for your colleagues.
One benefit of these diverse organizations is that your employer is more likely to take notice of your dedication and may even see leadership qualities or other beneficial attributes that may eventually lead to getting a promotion.
This is regardless of your identity, demographic or race. In these companies, there is an equal opportunity for everyone to work their way up within the company. You will not be discriminated against because of your gender, sexual orientation or the like.
Once you receive a promotion, always continue to promote diversity by encouraging your colleagues to be accepting of each other’s differences.
Try to think from their perspective. How would they like to be treated in the workplace?
Probably no different then you.
Really focus on trying to understand everyone around you. Show a genuine interest in getting to know everyone and not just those who are similar to you. Setting this example may encourage those around you to do the same.
Continue to Help Improve the Workplace
Communication is an important part in promoting diversity. Whenever you have recommendations for improvement, notify management.
Remember, diversity and inclusion does not happen overnight. You cannot expect quick changes; it is an ongoing process that is continuously evolving.
On the other hand, what if you experience a colleague or management discouraging diversity?
This is not acceptable in any workplace and is actually a form of discrimination.
By staying quiet, you are actually contributing to the problem.
The best thing you can do is speak up when experiencing discrimination. You can do this politely or even just mention what you saw to management.
Even with diversity initiatives in place, discrimination is still an ongoing battle. Sometimes people may not even be aware of what they are doing or saying.
Aim for incremental improvements within the organization and focusing on bettering yourself. When all employees do their part and focus on removing their own personal biases, the workplace becomes a better place.
Diverse Companies Are Proven to Outperform
Did you know that working in a diverse team actually makes you smarter?
According to a study done by Harvard Business Review, your brain is forced to sharpen its performance and change its way of thinking in a diverse workplace.
Overcoming problems by brainstorming solutions together has a variety of positive effects for both you and the company.
Another study completed by McKinsey, called ‘Why Diversity Matters,’ found that gender-diverse companies were 15% more likely to outperform the national industry medians than homogeneous teams.
They also found that ethnically diverse companies were 35% more likely to outperform.
These studies make it clear that diversity is a key factor in a company’s problem-solving abilities and overall performance. When people with a variety of personalities, backgrounds and cultures collaborate, it yields nothing but positive results.
Finding A Purpose Within Your Organization
Leaders are in a great position to speak out about diversity.
However, whether you are in a position of power or not, try to find a purpose within your organization and get recognized for your contributions.
You may wish to speak out about the diversity initiatives within the company, whether that be in the community or on social media. This can help attract applicants from all backgrounds and experiences, which will ultimately benefit both you and the company.
Another way you can contribute to the diversity of the team is by starting an Employee Resource Group (ERG). An ERG is a group led by employees that helps foster diversity and acceptance in the workplace.
Despite the fact that they are formed on similarities, these groups actually help educate others on your differences. They allow employees to network with each other and contribute ideas between themselves.
This is a great contribution to your workplace, whether ERGs are already formed within your company or you are forging a new path. Effectively communicate with management about how to better the company with your ideas.
You are in control of your work life, so when seeking a new position, always look for signs of diversity in the workplace to maximize your experience and growth potential. These organizations will value your differences so much more and allow you to be yourself.
A workplace that emphasizes the importance of diversity, equality, and inclusion for all employees comes with a lot more benefits than those that don’t. Actively seeking diverse employment from the beginning of your search will ensure you have a more positive career experience.