At Inception Day, the People Panel saw a lot of interesting aspects of attracting, managing and retaining talent for start-ups and growing organisations being discussed. Moving on from gender diversity, the discussion also looked at diversity of other kinds – religion, language and origin. This prompted this blog on what workforce diversity really does for your business.
Organisations today, are supposedly more aware of the need for gender diversity. (At IBS, we are guilty of maintaining a rather skewed one which not surprisingly is currenty in favour of women!) Are women more suitable for working in start-ups or early growth companies because of their inherent instinct and emotional make-up? Perhaps more women are at liberty to opt for alternate careers or perhaps they rate smaller companies and start ups higher because of flexibility options? Whatever the reasons, there was no doubt that a healthy gender balance is a very good standard to work with. As our Keynote speaker K Pandia Rajan shared, at Ma Foi, they had always strived, from Day one, to keep the gender ratio at 48-52% at all times. This he felt had been an important rule while building a world class HR services organization.
But diversity of the workforce is not only split two ways by gender. Especially in India, diversity by means of religion, language or mother tongue, origin state – the list is quite interesting.
Here is a quick cheat sheet of sorts for you to know what Workforce diversity can or should be doing for your business.
· As are your customers, so be your employees:
One of the key learnings at my earlier organization (HSBC) was that customers are a diverse lot. And in any direct to customer business, a similar diversity in the workforce is often a useful tool to help your employees connect better with different sub-groups in your customer or target audience. This was reiterated during the People Panel discussion at Inception Day. A couple of participants felt that their retail business was better oriented to service customers from different backgrounds because they had store staff from similar backgrounds.
· Balanced needs:
When it comes to workplace expectations, a diverse workforce may force you to create a more holistic workplace. Having a diverse team can also aid you in running your business at top gear right through the year since different groups would need time off at varying periods, particularly in the context of the wide array of festivals celebrated by different communities.
· Better Insight:
More perspectives culled from employees of varying background can be very useful in gleaning customer or other business insight. A workforce drawn across a wider spectrum of communities can be the simplest way to get access to varying outlooks with reference to your business.
· Global ready:
If your business has anything remotely international about it, a diverse workforce is a great stepping-stone to ensuring you have a culture with the basic ingredients for being global. Global or multinational organization building begins right here!
· A Neutral Culture:
A diverse workforce is a very good way to ensure that the organization’s culture is not dominated by any one group or community, or even completely flavored by your own ideas (if you are the main owner/promoter). While we all tend to impose our conditioning upon the businesses we build, a team that is drawn from across multiple communities and backgrounds can help temper this and push towards a more neutral culture. This is probably healthier for the organization in the long run.
(And oh well, here’s one more reason that is on the lighter side and definitely one for the foodies. Imagine the sheer range of culinary delights that you could sample in the office just by ensuring you have people from differently communities and sub-cultures J)
You don’t need a whole bunch of reasons, as long as even one of these appeals to you strongly. It may seem easier to work with people who are just like us. But the benefits of pushing ourselves beyond this comfort zone and ensuring workforce diversity are far too many to ignore.
We are going to be thinking a lot about this even for our own firm. How about you?
About the Author:
Pavithra is Founder & Partner at Inception Business Services. A Marketing & Management professional with a keen interest in people and passion for ideas, Pavithra moved from being a Banker & Wealth Management professional to entrepreneur. Working with start ups, Brand management, Customer engagement, Content creation and Coaching/Training are areas of work that most excite her. Multi-tasking entrepreneur, mother of a 3 year old and wife of a businessman, Pavithra confesses that her 2013 resolutions include being regular with her blog writing and any encouragement in that direction is welcome. Mail her at pavithra at inception.net.in.