Diversity: What does it bring to the party?
It’s safe to say that most workplaces, social environments and institutions are aware that having a diverse workforce is important when operating in today’s environment.
According to Diversity Council Australia, diversity is having a mix of people in an organisation from a wide variety of social and professional identities. So we’re talking diversity of culture, race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and mental and physical ability. But what is it about diversity that has it carrying more weight than a mere corporate buzzword?
Contrary to popular belief, diversity is a lot more than just ‘doing the right thing’ to achieve a sense of moral fulfilment or good corporate image. It actually makes good business sense too.
With a diverse workforce comes diversity of thought, experience, skills and ways of seeing and moving through the world. These different perspectives are hugely beneficial to organisations as they can lead to increased creativity, faster problem solving and better decision making. Spoiler alert – all of these things are likely to drive an increase in productivity, a boost in distribution and an improvement in customer connection and experience.
Diversity in the real world
Diverse teams also allow for new opportunities and additional insights to be uncovered when tailoring or marketing products and services to specific groups. Take the Government for example. Governments at all levels in Australia have strong policies and aspirations for recruiting people with disabilities (among many other groups as well).
People with disabilities face daily challenges that able-bodied people will never understand. By including disabled people in their workforce, governments are gaining a unique perspective on what is required when planning public services or spaces.
Governments are looking to provide services that are relevant and well-suited to their citizens – what’s a better way to understand what the diverse community needs than employing a wide range of people.
Likewise, with businesses looking to sell products to a diverse market. If they want to be successful in appealing to a certain group, they need to have a deep understanding of the underlying wants and needs of that market. By having a diverse product and sales team, businesses are better equipped to build and distribute products that meet those demands.
It’s no secret that the automotive industry is typically male-dominated. When performing safety testing on new cars, the crash test dummy has traditionally been modelled off of a male body, which as we know are often larger and heavier than a female body.
Crash-test dummies representing the female physicality were not involved in the safety testing process until 2012. However, even now that they have been introduced, they still don’t accurately represent the average female physicality as they stand at just 5ft tall and weigh 50kgs. This is far shorter and lighter than the average woman, who is 5 ft 3 and weighs 71kgs.
This inaccurate method of testing means that some car safety features are ineffective when it comes to women being involved in car accidents. So much so that women are actually 73% more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car accident than men are.
Would this percentage be lower if there was more gender diversity within automotive design and testing teams? Which then poses another question – would automotive companies that demonstrate an increased focus on women’s safety sell more cars due to this fact?
Those who have it right
Although there are many organisations that haven’t quite realised the power of diversity, there are some that have harnessed our differences and are thriving because of it.
A great example of this is SBS – Australia’s multicultural and multilingual television and radio broadcaster.
SBS is the embodiment of diversity. It employs individuals at all levels (both on-screen and back of house), from all walks of life, and it benefits them in more ways than one.
SBS’s diverse workforce not only allows them to accurately represent and connect its viewers to the diverse world we live in, but it has also allowed them to create an additional revenue stream – Cultural Connect.
Cultural connect is a service provided by SBS, designed specifically to assist businesses in understanding and connecting with the diverse population and communities we have here in Australia.
If businesses wish to conduct market research or gain insights into specific target markets to which they are removed from, they have the opportunity to tap into SBS’s diverse workforce via Cultural Connect. The Cultural Connect unit also conducts diversity training for the broader market, assistance with multilingual production (translation, subtitling, voice-over etc.), radio and PR.
If you weren’t already convinced that the benefits of a diverse workforce stretch far beyond good corporate image, then I’m sure you are now. If it has opened up a whole new business landscape for SBS, what could it do for your organisation?
For years people have been saying “strength in numbers”. We say “strength in diversity”.