What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘workplace diversity’? Surely, an image of an office with employees from different ethnicity or genders working together comes to the mind. But today, diversity at the workplace encompasses different political, social, religious beliefs, socioeconomic backgrounds, disabilities and even sexual orientation.
Companies all over the world are moving towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce, having realized that taking care of their people is more important than chasing numbers but Singapore is yet to catch up. According to a poll conducted by Kantar, Singapore is the second-worst performing nation on workplace diversity and inclusion practices out of the 14 developed countries included in the poll! A multinational company that is a purveyor of D&I practices is Accenture, which topped the Refinitiv Global Diversity & Inclusion Index. When a Fortune 500 company positions itself as the leader in the best employee practices, it sets a great example for other organizations to follow and inadvertently becomes even more attractive to the shareholders as well as the current and the future employees.
Singapore’s population is a mix of Chinese, Malays, Indians and others. People speak varied languages and practice different religions, making Singapore a multicultural and multi-ethnic city-state in its truest sense. This is precisely the reason companies have a lot of scope of attracting and retaining the diverse working population residing here. And they can do so by having inclusive work policies to provide a better work environment to their most precious resource that is the employees. But, more often than not, in a bid to improve their bottom line, companies underrate the importance of workplace diversity and inclusion and are completely ignorant of the intangible advantages that it brings. So, how exactly does being diverse and inclusive benefit everyone?
Growth for all
Along with unique perspectives, employees bring with them their life experiences as well as different skills and talent. A heterogeneous workforce builds a conducive environment for employees to learn from and with each other too. The coming together of vastly different thinking styles and viewpoints helps solve problems faster. Naturally, this phenomenon drives creativity and innovation at work. Dynamic markets define this fast-paced business world, and without adaptability and flexibility, companies are bound to crash. A varied workforce brings with itself, diverse perspectives that help you make effective decisions and most importantly helps you be on your toes. Imagine, being able to choose from a spectrum of solutions for a business or an organizational problem!
Can we expect people from the same background or culture to think vastly different from each other? Having a homogeneous workforce may have its benefits, but in the long run, it will turn on its head and the stagnancy that can grow from such a close-knit culture is detrimental for the growth of any organization. Risk-taking and innovation are the key drivers of business expansion and development and having a diverse workforce opens up a world of new ideas, which when channeled correctly can take your company to newer heights.
More engagement, More retention
Employees work best when they are at ease and in their element and having an inclusive environment lets people be themselves, leading to better performance at the workplace. The pantry may be is stocked and comes with an unlimited supply of coffee. But, all such external efforts will fall short if intrinsically, people are uncomfortable in their work environment. That’s why, Just hiring diversely isn’t enough, think of what happens when those hires begin working at your company. If they feel alienated, motivations will go out the window, performances will drop and it may even lead them to quit.
The recruitment process right from hiring to on-boarding, takes up resources and high employee turnover is something companies cannot afford, which is why companies need to keep their employees engaged. It’s ingrained in us to want to be valued and when employees feel heard and understood, they are more likely to feel respected and valued. Inculcating an inclusive work culture can make them feel belonged, which will positively impact their quality of life at work. They then will also be more likely to be motivated and engaged leading them to be more productive and less likely to jump ships.
Although global companies in Singapore have woken up to to the advantages of D&I practices, local organizations need to follow suit. As an HR manager, it is in your best interest to provide a work environment where an employee actually wants to come to work every day to give in their best and measures like workplace policies that have been formed to accommodate a diverse workplace can be the first step to achieve it.