A diverse workforce is one in which employees include a blend of different looks, different backgrounds, different outlooks, different ways of thinking, and different thoughts. A company that takes fullest advantage of a diverse workforce needs to do (or have done) the following:
- Build a truly diverse workforce, including, where qualified, people with disabilities
- Build an understanding of differences, so that differences become non-threatening
- Build an inclusive corporate environment
To use differences effectively to their best advantage a company needs to recognize, embrace, and blend the differences in the employee base.
Using differences effectively will
- Drive innovation
- Improve employee morale and productivity
- Increase retention and reduce the cost associated with turnover
- Enhance the corporate reputation
- Grow product design and development
- Target marketing and increase market share
All of these help grow your business.
Get familiar with differences—so they don’t seem so “different.” A great disparity continues to exist between the employment of people with disabilities and those without disabilities. Even during times of historically high employment rates, people who were visually impaired did not realize a rise in employment. According to a 1995 study by Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School, the greatest barrier to employment of people with disabilities is not a lack of diversity training among human resources and hiring managers. Indeed, 80 percent of the more than 1000 private and federal government survey participants reported that their company provides diversity training. The biggest barrier is a lack of experience with persons who have the disability; in other words, the type of diversity training. A better understanding of what disability is, and is not, would help to overcome this.
Building a diverse work environment also helps in employee retention.