A lot of focus is being placed on diversity today. As more and more employers begin to see that diversity is good for their brands, their overall performance, and their corporate cultures, they are taking more interest in how their organizations treat people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and women.
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While we all wish diversity were simply a fact of life, for many companies in many verticals, diverse employee bases that grow organically are still a long way off. There is no easy answer when it comes to creating a more diverse workplace, but a good first step is to ground your corporate culture in values that support diversity.
"Our diverse culture at Intacct was organically grown from the outset to embrace different perspectives and a broad, worldwide experience base," says Rob Reid, CEO of Intacct, an accounting software firm that boasts seven "best place to work" awards, including a spot on Fortune's list of the 100 best medium workplaces. "We have always had a diverse workforce, and that bred continued diversity as we have grown the business. Diversity and acceptance of all people is part of our corporate culture, so there hasn't been a need to create specific programs to attract or retain a diverse workforce – it happens based upon our values."
The Importance of a Diverse Workplace
Diversity around the office and up and down the corporate ladder is important. Studies continuously show that having people from different walks of life on staff drives success and innovation. Reid says his company has experienced this reality firsthand.
"Our diverse culture has absolutely played an important role in where Intacct is today," Reid says. "People of different cultures, ages, genders, and backgrounds approach their thinking in different ways. That enables us to approach the various roles in the company from unique perspectives and helps drive creativity. A diverse group of employees also tends to have the ability to acknowledge others' differences while working to discover similarities. This helps with finding common ground to work on when the inevitable workplace disagreements arise. In the end, our employees are defined more by their passion for success and helping our customers, not by the way they look or where they are from. That approach has helped us achieve industry-leading levels of both employee and customer satisfaction for many years."
For companies around the globe, however, diversity remains a problem. America in particular is currently going through a very divisive moment. Many suddenly feel empowered to discriminate against others based on race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender identity, as evidenced by the rising number of hate crimes committed in the nation.
"The current political climate is causing some people to feel disenfranchised or marginalized, making workplace diversity and equality initiatives more important than ever," Reid says. "For companies that don't organically have a diverse culture, I would encourage them to start at the top. [See] if there are steps that can be taken at the executive level to understand why the existing workforce isn't as diverse as they would like."
Discrimination is often rooted in ignorance. Actively seeking to implement diversity initiatives helps to drive away ignorance not only within a company, but also within the world the company exists in. The office is one of the places where an employee is likely to encounter someone different from themselves and come to understand and appreciate those differences. Companies that give special attention to diversity now will be remembered as being on the right side of history. Businesses that fail to adapt risk losing employees and customers to more socially conscious competitors.