The Benefits of Diversity for a Small Business Owner
The positives of a varied workforce are almost endless. Read this guide and learn how your employees' differences can make a difference
Hollywood came under criticism earlier in the year for the lack of diversity amongst its nominees with regard to gender and ethnicity. Such diversity issues continue to spark fiery debate in the workplace as do issues around disability, social class, pay gaps and age.
Many large companies already have diversity policies in place to ensure taking a fair approach to their employees and other stakeholders – but diversity should be an essential part of policy for companies of any size. As a small growing company, you should take the time to take a long hard look at your diversity policy and you will reap the rewards. Diversity has been proven to foster new ways of thinking and help you engage with a wider range of customers.
The benefits for your small business
Companies that recruit a more diverse workforce will not only see a healthy bottom-line but also improvements in:
Unless your company occupies an extremely specialised niche, the biggest benefit of having a diverse workforce is the ability to understand your customers better. Employees bring different cultures, backgrounds, and skills to the table so if your workforce is diverse you can connect with customers on many different levels.
If everyone in the company thinks and behaves in the same way, the business will not and cannot thrive. A varied workforce will help you see things differently.
Employee recruitment and retention
A company that cares about its employees and values their differences will attract top talent and more importantly will be able to hang on to that talent.
A more diverse workplace that feels respected will perform better. When employees are happy, their motivation and productivity increases.
How to deal with diversity in the recruitment process
As an employer, a good first step is to ensure your aims match the capabilities of your recruitment resources. Is your firm exposed to candidates with all levels of experience? Are the objectives of senior management reflected in your job ads, CV filtering process and interviewing techniques?
Care is needed here because there is a fine line to tread. Prioritising a candidate’s gender, age, ethnicity or socio-economic status over a person’s skills and experience can get you into hot water. These should be contextual observations, not policies for hiring.
Scrutinising the recruitment process is a must – whilst the best candidate should get the job, you need to actively hire people who can bring different perspectives, experience and knowledge into the company.
Positive discrimination is not the answer, but appreciating the benefits that a diverse workforce brings will have positive effects. Renowned publisher Malcolm Forbes said that diversity is the “art of thinking independently together”. This seems an apt tag line for the creative and varied requirements of agile, passionate and hungry growing businesses.
So, while you may not be picking up an Oscar anytime soon, put diversity at the heart of your recruitment process and you will go a long way to building a modern and happy workforce and you could pick up an accolade or two as a result.
Sinead Hasson is MD and founder of specialist recruitment agency Hasson Associates.