Worldwide study points to business case for diversity

A global study of more than 3 million staff reveals the strong business case
for a diverse workforce.

Douglas Klein, president of consultancy Sirota, which surveyed the attitudes
of its clients’ employees, said the research backs many widely-held

"Culture matters terribly," he said. "If you have a culture
of inclusivity, it suggests a longer-term, more sustainable environment for
business success."

Merely ensuring a diverse workforce is not enough, he said. Different groups
must be embraced and their needs must be met.

"A philosophy to include diversity of ideas, people and viewpoints is
more powerful than something that lives in [the] labour relations

The research shows that despite people’s differences, whether gender, race,
or location, all employees seek a similar set of needs to be met – namely,
equity with colleagues, their sense of achievement, and camaraderie.

If one of these elements is not met, enthusiasm drops – sometimes markedly.
If, for example, people feel unfairly treated, the research shows their
enthusiasm falls by 350 per cent.

Klein said the research shows that if diversity is embedded in the company
culture, it allows people to work co-operatively, enhances management, and
boosts creativity and innovation.

"The greatest management opportunity is around culture – regardless of
background," he said.

Nick Starritt, managing director of Sirota Europe, said that diversity can
too easily become a compliance issue, when the real issue is inclusion, and not
merely tracking proportions.

"Many HR professionals have heard from colleagues in the US that
diversity is a big issue. But in the US – as is likely to happen in the UK – it
has been tainted by government mandates," he said.

"Diversity initiatives can easily be derailed by excesses of quotas and
targets. The UK is headed this way unless organisations identify and understand
the business benefits behind delivering diversity." 

By Quentin Reade

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