By employing a diverse work force, an employer can improve its business results, says Tricia Dupilka, director of talent solutions at BPI Group, a human resources and management consulting firm in Chicago
Today’s business world is becoming increasingly competitive, and a company must remain innovative if it is to stay on top. With a diverse work force, an employer can collaborate with many different viewpoints, allowing that organization to develop more ideas from a broader source of expertise.
“To continue to progress in a business strategy, innovation is becoming more and more important to all organizations not just those that have research and development departments and are on the leading edge,” Dupilka says.
Dupilka also finds that employees value a diverse work environment that goes beyond the traditional definition. Employees don’t want to feel that they’re just a number; they want to feel valued and appreciated for what they bring on an individual level. As employees tend to shift careers more often, they have a wider range of experiences collectively, and they want to see their individual perspectives respected.
“Employees are not just looking at diversity from the standpoint of gender and ethnicity,” Dupilka says. “They value the diverse the way they look at the world from all of their experiences; that’s attractive. People want some personalization.”
Diversity is especially valued among younger employees, Dupilka adds. Unlike the older generations, younger employees have always been exposed to a more diverse, connected population, which they want to see in the workplace, just as they have in other facets of their lives.
“The younger employees have grown up in a global environment,” Dupilka says. “They’ve gone to schools that are often much more diverse than a generation ago in terms of the population. It’s just the way they function, so they expect the work world to mirror that much more than ever before.”
To attract and retain a diverse work force, a company should build this into its overall view and strategy regarding how people are handled altogether, Dupilka says. This can be done by simply offering a flexible benefits plan that allows employees to choose what works best for their unique situations. The flexibility can surround who is allowed as a dependent, such as same-sex partners, aging parents and step-children.
Creating an environment that encourages collaboration is another important component, Dupilka says. Employees are motivated by a workplace that embraces the different perspectives, and an employer should be prepared to help employees share those various experiences with each other in order to progress the organization as a whole.
“Organizations that have diversity as part of their strategy in how people connect with each other can really sell that as a benefit,” Dupilka says. “While they want interesting work, a large part in gaining a diverse work force is providing engaging interactions.”