What is Workplace Diversity: Benefits and Challenges

The world is increasingly becoming a more diverse place. Historically, it’s never been easier for people to migrate to another country and start a new life. And even when moving is not physically possible, the internet has made it feasible for people to collaborate wherever they are on the planet. 

As the world condenses into one global village, the topic of diversity needs to be addressed. How does this cultural shift affect the workplace? How can leaders address its associated issues and challenges?

workers of different ethnicity discussing

What is workplace diversity? 

Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between individuals within an organization. This diversity may encompass differences in race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and physical conditions, among others. 

In recent years, there has been plenty of conversation around the topic. Managers are actively trying to apply the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. How can the principles of diversity benefit the workplace? 

The benefits of diversity in the workplace 

The original motivation behind the push for workplace diversity is inclusion. This call for inclusivity encouraged managers and organization leaders to acknowledge the strength of individual differences.  

This proved to be the right direction from a productivity perspective. A 2015 research conducted by McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, revealed that organizations with a diverse workforce outperform the competition by 35 percent. 

The advantages of having different people from different backgrounds come together to work towards a common goal are far more than what the movement originally hoped to achieve. 

  • Diverse teams are creative problem solvers and innovators. If you want your team to produce some out-of-the-box thinking whether to solve a problem or make thorough decisions, having a wealth of diverse experience to draw from is an advantage. 
  • Diverse teams are great at understanding their target audience. Team members can draw from each other’s unique perspectives to create a realistic persona of their target market and provide reasonable solutions to these problems. 
  • Diverse teams help promote professional growth within organizations. Having members from different cultures exposes teams to enriching cultures with different skills and approaches to work. Navigating this unique work culture can help them develop open-mindedness and adopt new ways of thinking which are vital to excellence in any profession. 

That said, there is still a long way to go when it comes to integrating diversity principles in business organizations. 

scene in an office, workers talking

The challenges to adopting diversity in the workplace 


    1. Difficulty in aligning diversity practices to organizational goals

While diversity is recommended, remember never to lose sight of your organization’s true goals. Your hiring practices directly influence your productivity outcomes. There are many ways to implement diversity in the workplace. You don’t have to copy what everyone else is doing. Instead, before you draft diversity-oriented policies, make sure they still are in parallel with your organization’s unique objectives. 

    1. Having the resources to move from ideation to execution

Having a great diversity program is all well and good until you have to implement them and realize you don’t have the organizational support you need to make it successful. Things that are worth doing are worth doing well. So don’t implement it in haste. Gather your resources, and make sure you have the right guidance, and the full support of your team before moving forward. 

    1. Overcoming bias

Most human decisions are based on bias. And most of them happen subconsciously. While it may be impossible to eradicate bias, it helps to be aware of the common ones that especially factor into interactions that occur in the workplace.

people from different ethnicity sitting and discussing

How to manage diversity in the workplace 

  • Properly communicate the goal of diversity training, policies, and procedures to your team.
  • Encourage diverse collaborations.
  • Ensure that all teams are evaluated based on one standard.
  • Consider the benefits of diversity during recruitment.
  • Empower individual team members.

Bottom line 

Workplace diversity has become a necessary consideration in an increasingly diverse international workforce. Adopting diversity practices in your organization can help you reap the benefits of an empowered team that draws upon each other’s uniqueness to bring about positive organizational change and success.