Diversity in all shapes and forms is critical in a company’s ability to adapt and innovate in a fast-changing world. Not only is it essential to the success of a company but it’s pivotal to growth.
Offering alternative perspectives, experiences, cultures, genders and age, can ensure that the business has strength in differences, rather than a weakness in similarities.
It should never be looked at as a ‘nice to have’ attribute, but a strategic imperative that is the driving force of the company’s success.
As James Surowiecki once said, “Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not census or compromise.”
But encouraging diversity in the workplace is not as simple as hiring lower level employees simply to look like you’re creating a diverse culture. The initiative has to come from board level leaders who are willing to change their way of the thinking.
When Business Secretary Vince Cable announced last year that his target was to have one in every five directors from a non-white background, this campaign was supported strongly by the Institute of Directors, but a recent report by Green Park on the Diversity in FTSE 100 companies has clearly shown that this push is not yet being implemented by the most successful companies in the UK.
The proportion of non-white managers in positions below the boardroom has fallen to 5.7 percent from 6.2 percent a year ago, with no executive directors of Chinese of east Asian heritage found on any boards.
The lack of ethno culture in top roles is clearing showing that the pace of change is slowing rather than moving forward.
For many businesses their lack of diversity is purely ignorant, and displays a clear lack of their customer interests.
Companies who chose not to embrace diversity at the highest level will find a real difficulty in growing their business across international markets, as without any leaders with experience in those markets the company will be unable to understand their way of doing business.
The simple fact is, that companies need to think differently about talent that they hire. Rather hiring similar people from a similar role and similar company, they should be opening up the roles to international talent.
By creating a more diverse boardroom it will intrinsically encourage a more diverse team, and therefore enable a culture of progressive thinking that looks at ideas from all angles.
Everyone is talking about diversity, but very few companies are actually being proactive about it.