Many people examining the future of work are curious about the potential impact that automation, robotics, and other AI tools will have on the workforce. Changes in the workplace have historically resulted in the creation of new and different jobs for people. New roles created in the field of artificial intelligence will require human beings to make them as useful and effective as possible. And as work expands from the traditional office out to a distributed remote workforce, diversity is becoming more important than ever in the modern workplace. Here are some ways that diversity can improve the future of work and how companies can ensure that inclusion and diversity remain a part of the workplace culture.
The Many Faces of Diversity
When most people think of diversity in the workplace, what usually comes to mind first are people of different races, genders, and sexual orientation working together. While all of those factors—race, gender, and sexual orientation—are an important aspect of diversity and should certainly be a part of any business’ diversity and inclusion plans, there are other aspects that are equally important. Age diversity and inclusion are also growing factors in many workplaces. Now more than ever, multiple generations are working together on the same teams and in the same workplaces, and it’s important that people of all ages feel valued and able to contribute. Diverse personalities (think introverts and extroverts working together), communication styles, learning styles, and life experiences are also important. All of these factor contribute to diversity in the modern workplace.
At its core, diversity can be simply defined as a range of different things, and inclusion involves making something a part of the whole. Diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace aim to bringing a variety of different aspects—no matter what form they might take—together and to combine them as a part of a whole. It’s important for business owners to promote the ideals of diversity and inclusion as real values in the workplace.
Keeping your workforce happy is an important factor in improving company culture and retaining employees. Research has shown that companies with a culture of diversity and inclusion have happier employees overall. Keeping your best employees happy will make them more inclined to stay at your company rather than to look for a better situation elsewhere. They also tend to perform better and to stay more productive overall, benefiting the company in the process.
Appealing to a Broad Customer Base
Companies with a diverse workforce and a mission of promoting diversity and inclusion can appeal to a broader customer base. If the marketing team in place is not also diverse, then how can it produce materials that will appeal to a broad base and a wide range of customers, whether they be individuals of different races, genders, or generations? In order to truly survive as a business and appeal to a variety of customers all over the world, companies must practice diversity and inclusion in real and applicable ways. That means making a genuine effort to hire a diverse workforce in all areas of a business.
Diversity can also help a company to survive competition and other downturns, such as an economic recession. Just like you see in nature, diversity promotes survival. Diverse meadows that have great variety are better able to support life than a field that has only one crop, for example. Pests won’t be able to kill the full variety of species. In a way, diversity also helps businesses to survive. With a diverse workforce and customer base, survival even in times of economic distress will be more likely.
Challenges of Diversity
While diversity is beneficial to companies all over the world, many struggle to mitigate the challenges that it can present, making it difficult to truly implement a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace. The very concept of diversity involves bringing together people of different backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures and having them work together. This can result in significant challenges if efforts are not in place to help employees learn how to deal with these differences.
Many companies wonder why money is spent on diversity initiatives with no results, and that is often due to a lack of change in the overall company culture. Focusing on underrepresented groups won’t alter anything unless the overall company culture also changes. Ensuring an inclusive company culture that reflects diversity in terms of employees and leadership will attract others who have similar values. When more people come into a company that values diversity, a culture of inclusion and diversity will naturally arise as a result.
Innovation, creativity, and originality will only become possible by allowing a diverse group of people to make contributions in a variety of fields. Without this diversity, it will prove difficult to achieve the innovation we need to survive the future of work.