Workforce Diversity: Understanding Our Differences And Full Potential

workplace diversityIt’s incredible how much the conversation about workplace diversity has changed over the past couple of years. We as a society are looking beyond color, creed, ability, and gender. Instead, we are looking at what each person brings to the table and and embracing a variety of perspectives that can yield insights and innovations that no other competitor is thinking about.

According to a study by Korn/Ferry Institute, 96 percent of executives believe having a diverse and inclusive workforce can increase employee engagement and business performance. Which is incredible! But from a practical standpoint, how do these executives know for certain whether their companies are nurturing diversity and encouraging everyone to participate?

Yes, establishing a diverse workforce is the right thing to do. And of course, it does pave the way for a society that looks beyond physical appearance and limitations and embraces individual talent. However, businesses cannot make money on this. Like any other workforce program, diversity programs that are not measured are in danger of being perceived as “the business fad of the moment” and removed as a frivolous HR budget line item.

Believe it or not, it is possible to relate workforce diversity to significant business goals. Here are three main areas in which workforce diversity can be deemed valuable to any business.

1. Efficiency

When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more productive and engaged – and, therefore, more efficient. When HR monitors the entire enterprise for pay disparities and measures job satisfaction in real time, it’s easier to spot potential problems before they lead to grievances, firings, and resignations.

How do you communicate these results in a meaningful way? Take your data and try to pinpoint an ongoing trend within your workforce, such as a 20 percent annual increase in satisfied employees. Then, multiply that number of employees by your turnover-related costs, so that you can express the increase in terms of costs avoided.

2. Innovation

Diversity can be a driving force in competitive innovations. By bringing together a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds, employees are more likely to use each other’s ideas to build up to the next game-changing innovation. And with innovation comes growth and profitability when applied to areas such as product development, sales, or marketing.

How do you measure the power of your workforce’s creativity and teamwork? Measure employee participation in the improvement of existing processes and products, as well as the creation of new knowledge. Review records of employee participation through group alerts, conversations, and decisions to devise a common measure for participation, as well as correlate the direct connection between diversity and innovation.

3. Sustainable profitability

Related to workforce diversity, participation in activities that promote leadership and skills development is critical to any business. Employees who feel their abilities are put to good use and have a role in the present and future success of the business tend to be happier and loyal. The longer any highly talented employee remains with an employer, the more that employer can benefits from having that employee on board and avoiding the costs related to losing and replacing that employee.

How do you link sustainable employee engagement to the bottom line? Measure standard metrics – such as training participation, work-life balance, employee and market perception, and others – to determine any diversity inequities.

Measure your workforce diversity program now

Diversity metrics does not require extensive investment or disruption — just a little creativity to show how it plays a role in the competitive capabilities of the overall business. To get details on the specific metrics that can help measure the effectiveness of your workforce diversity program, read the free white paper Measuring the Benefits of Diversity: 15 Metrics.