Diversity has become a popular topic in recent years, but it’s not easy to quantify the benefits. Sure, you know diversity is “good” for your small business, but just how important is it really?
To sum it up: vital.
Equality and diversity must be SMB priorities. Business leaders everywhere are beginning to recognize that a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives is crucial to developing new ideas. Let’s look at five ways diversity drives innovation and out-of-the-box thinking in small businesses:
Workplace diversity fosters an environment where all ideas — even the most outlandish — are welcome. (Side note: This is one of many reasons I love working at Salesforce!) When multiple backgrounds and perspectives are represented, and when leaders value differences, all employees can feel comfortable sharing ideas and honest opinions. It’s key for colleagues to have a safe space to share; where would we be if Walt Disney never felt comfortable sharing his off-the-wall vision for an animated series about a mouse?
You know those meetings when everything seems to go smoothly? Everyone’s in agreement and decisions are made quickly? It’s easy to feel good about those, but don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly. Today’s small businesses want to move fast, but teams of like-minded thinkers don’t always get the best results. Yes, there's a sense of satisfaction when everyone’s in harmony, but there's a great deal to be said for multiple perspectives, creative debate, and a bit of constructive conflict.
Competition for talent is fierce in today’s economy. If your company wants to attract and retain great employees, it’s critical to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workforce. The benefits extend to many areas of business — not only does a diverse workforce drive innovation, it also differentiates you from competition, and can even help attract new clients. So as your small business grows, be sure to have a plan to recruit, develop, and retain a diverse workforce. Here are some tips.
Diverse team members with different worldviews and experiences will create products and services that reflect the communities they serve. So with the growing diversity of our global community, it only makes sense to reflect it among the teams that work within them. Other benefits of multicultural perspectives? Diverse teams create understanding, which is key to safeguarding against racial bias and preventing gender bias.
Until recently, workplace diversity has been a soft sell that was hard to quantify. But according to this McKinsey report, U.S. public companies with diversity on their executive boards have 95% higher returns on equity than those without, and there’s a growing cadre of other research to support such findings. Numbers like those make it clear that workplace diversity is no longer a nice-to-have; it is a must-have for any company looking to grow and compete.
Whether your company is enviably diverse or still working to get there, we all have a responsibility to enhance our perspectives. Take time to read about global communities, attend a festival targeted to a different culture, or volunteer with an organization that serves a unique demographic. Through this constant quest for diverse learning, we all can be better equipped to drive innovation.
Learn more on how diversity can help make a positive impact on your small business by downloading the latest research highlighting workplace equality trends, The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business.
This blog post is one in a series of blogs celebrating National Small Business Week 2018. Looking for more Small Biz Week content? Check out these surprising facts in our 10 Stats You Don’t Know About Small Businesses blog.
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