Economics/Business

What is diversity and why is it important/importance/benefits

Diversity in companies corresponds to teams made up of people of different genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, ages, experiences, visions, etc. This plurality is essential to promote social equality, creativity and business growth.

The concept of diversity is related to the existence of different characteristics in a group of people. If we are thinking about diversity in companies , what is the company’s workforce like? Are there different profiles of people on your current team?

It is necessary to think about the aspects that make us unique , such as cognitive skills and personality, in addition to the particularities that shape our identity such as age, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background and nationality.

What is diversity in companies?

According to one of the main and most complete dictionaries of the Portuguese language, Houaiss, diversity is the “character that distinguishes one being from another being, one thing from another” .

For a more comprehensive definition, we can take into account what the Oxford Dictionary says, which describes diversity as “the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society” . 

According to the examples cited in the dictionary itself, this variety includes “race, ethnicity, age, nationality, socioeconomic status, gender, religion or sexual orientation”.

Diversity in companies means making the workplace reflect the composition of a plural society. 

When people think of diversity, they usually think of demographic groups such as gender and race. However, diversity is a broader concept than that.

To be clearer, it is necessary to understand the main categories of diversity:

  • inherent diversity : encompasses characteristics such as gender, age and race;
  • acquired diversity : includes factors such as values, skills, knowledge, education and experience.

Interestingly, according to a report released by the American business consulting firm Deloitte (one of the four largest companies in the field in the world), diversity is perceived differently by each generation .

According to the study, which is called The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence , current generations see the work environment as a combination of different contexts, experiences and expectations . They also believe that taking advantage of these differences is what drives innovation.

Generations of those born before the 1980s, on the other hand, see diversity in the workplace as equal and fair representation , regardless of demographics.

How important is diversity in companies?

Making the greatest number of cultures , ethnicities , races and beliefs participate in the organizations’ teams has required preparation and great dedication from professionals in the Human Resources area , since diversity in companies is one of the main urgencies in the current job market .

The diversity of employees can be implemented in different sectors and in many occupations, differing from technical knowledge, which influences the way they work, to different age groups and gender.

We have separated for you four reasons to bet on diversity in companies. Follow up!

1. Increase team engagement

Employees who perceive diversity as a relevant factor within the organization are more motivated , understand that, by dedicating themselves more, they bring a gain to the company and to their personal performance.

In organizations where the diversity environment is recognized, employees are more engaged and willing to deliver more than people expect. 

An environment with diversity also makes conflicts , which sometimes hinder productivity and efficiency, less recurrent.

2. Creates efficient and innovative processes

The combination of different cultures and people forms a diverse team , each with its own experience and experience, making large companies stand out in today’s society and then offer the appropriate products and services to such diverse and demanding markets.

In diversity, people are more encouraged and are more open to new thoughts, achieving different solutions for everyday issues .

The greater the difference in people’s knowledge , origin and culture, the greater the opportunities for the environment to promote innovation and creativity .

3. Promotes social inclusion

When people, in general, talk about social inclusion within large organizations, the first idea is to include professionals with some type of disability in the labor market ( PwD ) . 

However, the term “inclusion” goes far beyond this perception.

By inclusion, people must understand the ability to interact satisfactorily , so that their work is productive, with an increasingly diverse number of employees in their age, ethnicity and cultural aspects.

In large modern corporations, employees must know how to interact positively with all other professionals and try to absorb, with this diversity, the various knowledge they can use in the professional sphere.

4. Adds value to the company

Diversity investments, such as sponsoring foreigners, reflect not only the well-being of employees , but also financial success for organizations.

In this way, including diversity as an agenda on the strategic agenda is a great way to maximize results and differentiate the organization in important themes such as leadership , innovation, motivation and, as a result, financial results.

Based on the different demands of the consuming public, organizations manage to reach everyone and add intangible value to the brand , with exclusive services adapted to markets composed of people who are increasingly different from each other.

Knowing how to live with differences, whatever they may be in the professional environment, is a quality that is highly appreciated by the new market and by leaders in general, as it demonstrates that professionals are flexible and are always ready to change or learn new things.

In this way, the employee who knows how to work around situations and conflicts due to differences in the work environment will always be in positive evidence.

What examples of diversity can we promote in companies?

Diversity means representing society . After all, we are made up of people from different histories, beliefs, races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, among others. 

There are several types of diversity. We separate the main types of diversity seen in companies, follow it!

generational diversity

The concept of generational diversity in companies is simple and easy to understand. We talk about the existence of people from different generations working in the same organization , sharing the work environment.

It is, therefore, something that leads us to a plurality of age groups and, consequently, of professional and personal life experience. 

Some people think of this difference with a focus on generational conflict, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, it is important that this is not the case, because it is an unfeasible challenge for a company to only have employees of a certain generation. 

With that, coexistence is natural, also because an organization is a part of a society.

cognitive diversity

Cognitive diversity is the inclusion of people who have different styles of problem solving and can offer unique perspectives because they think differently. 

Unlike demographic diversity, which focuses on getting a mix of statistical characteristics such as gender or age, cognitive diversity focuses on getting a mix of how people perform intellectual activities , make associations, or draw conclusions.

Diversity of thinking is often considered important to a successful workplace. 

People who bring different perspectives may see threats and opportunities that others may miss . This chemistry of human interaction is now seen as a critical component of innovation.

Often, in selection processes, we are more focused on relationship aspects and leave out the different ways of thinking that can contribute to cognitive diversity.

Aspects such as analytical thinking, ability to synthesise, thinking strategically, ability to deal with information/data may be little considered and they are the ones that can contribute to the construction of different perspectives.

Cultural diversity

The cultural diversity , as the very suggests expression, refers to the different customs and traditions of a people , can be represented by language, beliefs, behaviors, values, through cooking, politics, art, music, among many other elements.

Present in any and all social groups, diversity represents plurality and respect for everything that is different in society’s eyes . The concept of this term, therefore, goes far beyond the definition given in dictionaries.

May 21 was the date chosen to celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. 

Since 2002, the day has been established on the world calendar by the General Assembly of the United Nations, one year after the approval of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.

The date represents the opportunity to seek the appreciation of culture and its different forms of expression , promoting reflection on the need to value diversity and promote an inclusive society.

gender diversity 

Contrary to what many people think, gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing and, in order to understand the topic, it is essential to know how to differentiate both concepts.

The sexual orientation only refers to sexual and emotional attraction to a human being feels for another. 

Thus , sexual orientation is related to physical and emotional pleasure , which may culminate in loving relationships, such as dating and marriage.

Furthermore, it is also unrelated to behavior, and a gay person does not necessarily need to assume a more feminine or masculine behavior solely because of their orientation, since it is possible for a gay person to feel good about their biological body. . 

Thus, the existing sexual orientations are:

  • homosexual, who is attracted to the same sex;
  • heterosexual, who is attracted to the opposite sex;
  • bisexual, who is attracted to both sexes;
  • asexual, who does not feel sexual desire;
  • pansexual, who appreciates all genders.

On the other hand , gender diversity , unlike sexual orientation, consists of the gender with which the individual identifies independently of their biological sex . 

Thus, the cisgender identifies with its biological sex, for example, a female person who is biologically female.

A transgender person, on the other hand, is an individual who has an identity different from their biological sex, like transsexuals (a biological man who identifies himself as a woman, for example, or a biological woman who identifies himself as a man). 

Transgender people often want to definitively assume the body they identify with and, for this reason, undergo hormonal therapies or sex reassignment procedures.

There is also the non-binary, the individual who identifies with the opposite gender and assumes a behavior consistent with his gender, but who does not wish to undergo physical readjustment procedures. 

An example would be a woman who identifies with the male gender, but who does not use hormones or undergo surgery to remove her breasts.

There are several nomenclatures within the theme, however, it is worth noting that gender identity is nothing more than how each person feels about male and female gender , without considering certain factors, such as their sexual orientation and their biological sex.

How to approach diversity in companies?

Diversity in organizations involves becoming aware of and creating actions to value diversity , increasing sensitivity in the execution of projects. This is an essential attitude for the relationship with employees.

Therefore, it is important, when looking at the diversity in the organization, to carry out a diagnosis of the situation , knowing the institutional reality itself. Thus, it is possible to promote actions to include different professionals.

Below is a step-by-step guide to addressing the issue of diversity in companies and designing a successful inclusion project.

1. Know the company 

Do you know the company you work for? Do you know exactly how diverse she is? Have you ever stopped to look at the staff to see if you have a team that respects differences? 

All these questions are important to kick-start the promotion of diversity in the company . 

In this sense, try to make a clear diagnosis of the workforce in the company and understand how it is composed. 

2. Bring diversity to all company processes

Diversity should be a theme at team meetings, at company events, in hallways, in all places and sectors of the institution. 

Thus, the more people talk about the topic, the more it becomes essential within the company. 

This starts to work when leaders are made aware of the topic and start prioritizing it in their teams. 

3. Count on the support and expertise of internal communication 

The internal communication has strategic engagement and awareness tools. So why not take advantage of these tools to inform, raise awareness and improve the organizational climate? 

This means that it is very productive when we use communication tools for causes such as diversity in organizations. 

What are the benefits of diversity in companies?

The first point to be highlighted here is the fact that great inclusion in the work environment associates business with respect and valuing differences.

Taking into account the wide diversification of society today, one can no longer turn a blind eye to differences. Generally speaking, it is unacceptable to see organizations that still look down on a particular group. 

When we mention this type of variation, we are referring to people with disabilities (PCD) and men and women with different ethnicities and/or sexual and gender orientations.

The observation to keep in mind, in this case, is that opening up to this plurality can generate excellent results . That said, we will present below five advantages of diversity in companies. Check out!

Increased organizational creativity

The increase in organizational creativity is the first one. Understand that, by providing a space where differences are valued, work teams will feel freer to express the genuineness and authenticity of their members.

This is an important question, as it contributes to the originality of the productions . When diversified, the company’s environment promotes conditions for new concepts and ideas to circulate among employees.

Diversity in companies brings enormous creative potential to the business. This is because our experiences influence us on how we see problems and how we solve them.

The more varied the team, the greater the number of ideas presented and the more chances the organization will have to obtain the results it so desires.

Innovation

The result of increased organizational creativity is one of the most important factors for a company’s success: innovation. 

study by Forbes magazine says that diversity in companies is one of the main drivers of creating an innovative environment . He also indicates that this is a key component of growth on a global scale.

According to the survey, a diverse and inclusive workforce is essential for organizations that want to attract and retain the best talent , an issue that strengthens the development of an organizational culture of innovation.

Conflict reduction

In companies where there is respect for diversity, conflicts tend to be much smaller. 

This happens because, when there is a healthy policy of convenience between the differences, the teams and their members in particular will find it easier to deal with the differences that may be generated during the activities.

In this way, different opinions will not trigger friction, misunderstandings and/or break-ups. 

Depending on the situation, these disagreements become stimuli for a cooperative establishment in search of greater consensus .

Business image improvement

A business whose diversity is valued in its environment is fulfilling its social role , something of extreme importance for building a good image. 

In short, if the company wants to be well-regarded, it needs to take a conscious and responsible attitude towards society as a group.

Achieving better results

The consequence of the advantages mentioned so far could not be other than the achievement of better overall results. 

The reason is simple: in a space where diversity is promoted, the company provides a welcoming, collaborative and stimulating atmosphere .

Professionals feel more motivated and engaged to carry out their tasks. By increasing the quality of life of employees, there is no doubt that tasks will be delivered more effectively.

We cannot forget to say that creating diversity in companies requires a conscious effort. 

Along these lines, it is necessary to develop a policy that respects equal opportunities.

In other words, the business must become an equal opportunity employer to convey to minority applicants that they are most welcome . 

It is necessary to establish the appreciation of distinctions as part of its core values, so that everyone will know that they are not only present in isolated initiatives.

When hiring , be transparent about the criteria. This is important for everyone to see that the steps with diversification are not designed for an arbitrary audience, but for minorities equally qualified for a particular job vacancy, for example.

Finally, it is worth noting the development of inclusion programs , especially if diversity is not yet well present in your company. 

The point to be highlighted here is that part of the professionals (many of them with excellent skills) do not find their space due to the difficulties encountered to feel, in fact, included.

How should HR promote diversity in companies?

The Human Resources department can act in different ways to integrate diversity in an organization. 

In fact, this culture begins with the construction of the company’s staff , and it is necessary to implement it from the recruitment and selection process to the beginning of the candidate’s journey .

Many selection processes, however, still seek to maintain a certain pattern, analyzing factors such as the candidates’ religion, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. 

It is therefore necessary to break with this type of selectivity and expand the vacancies for people with different characteristics.

The differences must be worked out by everyone in the company, and HR can help make that intervention. 

It is also necessary to promote communication and dialogue , in order to exchange knowledge and integrate.

It is interesting that managers are willing to listen to employees, allowing opinions and accepting suggestions for improvement. 

In addition, communication between colleagues and teamwork should also be encouraged.

Thus, HR can help to reconcile the relationship and promote respect and acceptance . Its activities range from hiring to retaining employees and internal processes, such as training and day-to-day activities. Below are some practical tips.

1. Expand the recruitment process

Expanding the areas of disclosure, when it is necessary to carry out a recruitment process, helps to attract a more diverse audience . 

This expansion can be done in different ways, such as using websites or advertising in a larger geographic area, for example.

2. Offer training focused on diversity in the company

The training helps employees, and even managers, realize how positive it can be to have diversified profiles in the company . This helps to make the environment more welcoming.

3. Encourage diversity at all levels

It is not enough to just promote more diversified recruitment and selection processes. This idea needs to be present at all levels: from the basics to the superiors .

To integrate diversity, every company must be authentic. It’s not enough to just go after numbers: it’s necessary to consider the way you treat people and, thus, look for the best way to promote respect and acceptance in that environment.

In this sense, the Human Resources sector has an extremely important role. After all, it can help the people involved to adapt to this idea, while working with its insertion in the company’s culture .

One aspect that cannot be ignored are the challenges that must be dealt with when carrying out this integration, as, unfortunately, we still find preconceptions and plastered standards. However, this picture is reversible and all it takes is dedication to change it.

Thus, it is essential to expand ethics, respect and also knowledge so that it is possible to provide the necessary guidelines to favor performance.

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