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Diversifying Your Workforce: Why and How?

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Today, businesses have to be more competitive than ever. Nimbler, smarter, faster, more connected. One easy way to strengthen your company and connect it more deeply to a wider customer base is to make inclusion a central part of the hiring process. This means diversity: recruiting candidates from a variety of backgrounds, who bring a diversity of skills and experiences to your company, strengthening it with “hybrid vigor.”

A diverse team that works well together on a basis of mutual respect rather than shared identity offers benefits to the company that a homogenous team cannot. According to the Harvard Business Review, while diverse teams can feel more “uncomfortable” than homogenous teams, they are 35 percent more likely to have higher financial returns, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have returns above the industry average.

The benefits of diversity aren’t just higher financial dividends; it’s influence, recruiting, and opportunities that attract clientele, candidates, and community that value the same diversity, inclusion, and equality you do.

The payoff is also in productivity: diverse work teams outperform homogeneous ones by 35 percent Would you like your business to suddenly become 35 percent more productive? You sure would! And teams that offer equal respect to all genders earn 41 percent more revenue than sexually segregated teams or sexist ones. That’s as compelling a business reason as a smart company needs, no?

According to research from the Kauffman Center, “Data shows that immigrants to the United States start businesses at twice the rate of native-born Americans. Not surprisingly, over half (52.4 percent) of Silicon Valley startups established between 1995 and 2005 had one or more immigrants as a key founder.” Not only that, but the majority of startup founders are women.

Yes, we’ll wait while you do a double-take.

Part of the reason for that, unfortunately, is that too many ambitious, capable women hit the glass ceiling as employees, so they naturally look for alternative ways to succeed. Instead of letting them become your competition, it’s to your advantage to court them as employees. Demonstrating a commitment to inclusiveness and diversity from the bottom to the top is going to be a powerful attractor.

There are more CEO’s named “John” than there are female CEO’s in the United States, even though women outnumber men both in general population and in college degrees. So, you can see the problem.

The Harvard Business Review reports that more than half of women in STEM fields will ultimately leave the field, specifically because of a hostile, un-inclusive work environment. These are smart, qualified, and experienced women, and a smart company that can offer them a position of respect and opportunity will snap them up.

Women in SET in the U.S., Brazil, China, and India are committed to their work and their careers. Over 80 percent of U.S. women love what they do; in Brazil, China, and India, the numbers are close to 90 percent. Over three-quarters (76 percent) of U.S. women consider themselves “very ambitious,” as do 92 percent of Chinese and 89 percent of Indian SET women. At the same time, a sizable percentage of SET women feel stalled, with young women feeling particularly frustrated. More than half of U.S. women and more in emerging markets work alongside colleagues who believe men have a genetic advantage in SET fields.

This, my friends, is what you call an opportunity.

American Progress reports,

Businesses that recruit from a diverse workforce are better able to find the best and the brightest talent needed to compete in an increasingly competitive economy. By bringing together our different backgrounds, skills, and experiences, businesses are better able to breed the type of innovative and creative solutions needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive economy. Businesses that embrace diversity also realize significant increases in workforce productivity and job performance. More broadly, a diverse workforce drives economic growth, as more women, racial and ethnic minorities, and gay and transgender individuals enter the workforce.

From the C-suites to the ground floor, your business should be committed to diversity in order to attract the best candidates bar none. HR, obviously, needs to be on board wholeheartedly. You can tell whether or not they are by just eyeballing the candidates’ resumes; if they all sound alike, you’re missing the objective and probably need to invest in some training for HR.

And when you’re hiring for HR, build diversity in from the get-go. A variety of backgrounds and experience will recruit with open eyes and open minds, and soon enough you’ll have an inclusive, agile team ready to take on any challenge. 


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