Over the last few decades, the word diversity has continued to be emphasized in seemingly every aspect of life. From corporations to kindergarten classes, diversity has taken on a much higher level of significance. When this happens to words in general, they can take on some buzzword-like qualities. This is the case for diversity. The popularity of the term and accompanying ideals have been discussed to the point where it is modern normalcy that most don’t give a second thought to anything more than the surface-level definition. While this is a normal reaction, it leaves examination and logic aside. Take the words of Arlan Hamilton for example, “If you haven’t hired a team of people who are of color, female, and/or LGBT to actively turn over every stone, to scope out every nook and cranny, to pop out of every bush, to find every qualified underrepresented founder in this country, you’re going to miss out on a lot of money when the rest of the investment world gets it.”
This is a powerful quote that speaks to the power of diversity. However, it does not speak to the why or how of diversity. Why is diversity beneficial to its participants? How do diverse workplaces strengthen businesses and communities? We spoke with a few people with experience to understand their perspectives.
Boye Fajinmi is the Co-founder & President of TheFutureParty, a brand offering community-based media for creative professionals. He believes that the amount of work a group is capable of doing grows when the group is made up of a variety of people.
“If you can picture your company as a bicycle, you’ll quickly see why diversity is so impactful when it comes to promoting productivity. Let’s say you ordered a bike online and it arrives at your house in a box full of parts meant for you to assemble. If all the right parts are there in the right quantity, you’ll be able to build a wonderful bike that has no operational issues. But, let’s say the manufacturer sent you a box filled with pedals, wheels and no chain or handlebars? You won’t even get close to a working bike with that. Can you see how having numerous amounts of the same parts can really harm you? If your company is filled with repeated instances of similar people, you may find similar issues.”
Oak & Eden specializes in finished whiskeys, with a twist. Their CMO, Brad Neathery, suggests the consumer’s thoughts regarding a company can be influenced positively when it has a diverse workplace.
“The internet has taken the natural curiosity of humans and accelerated it to a hundred miles an hour. If there’s a question out there, we’re going to stumble across it and then google it until we come to some form of a conclusion. We’ve seen this in customers too. They want to know the people behind the scenes of the company they are choosing to engage with. Along the lines of human nature is the desire to be around people similar to us. When these two elements of human nature meet with the power of the internet, we find the modern landscape of businesses interacting with the public . In an effort to meet the demands of a diverse public one must employ a diverse staff. When done right, the public opinion of what you’re doing will begin to shift in your favor.”
The internet has done more than simply provide easy access to information. Kokolu is a business providing eco-friendly products. Their Head of Brand and Business Development, Gigi Ji, considers the ability to communicate with anyone around the world instantly to be an immense benefit.
“When people truly connect, there is a level of honesty and vulnerability present. Both parties feel as if they can relate to the other because of similarities they share with the other. Simply put, this is trust. When applied to business, this idea can be so helpful. The more people who trust you, the better chance you stand of finding success. If your workforce is diverse, your business has more opportunities to build that trust as there’s a higher chance you employ someone who can relate to a specific group of people or culture. Don’t pigeonhole yourself with your hires, think about your global connectivity.”
Karl Hughes is the CEO of Draft.dev, a brand offering technical marketing content for software. He advises others to notice the opportunities for problem solving when a diverse group is involved.
“Cookie cutters are a good representation of why diversity should be a focal point to anyone in business. The metal edges of the cutter will always continue to provide the same outcome time and time again. There’s nothing wrong with this either – this casting of the identical image is intended. But sometimes a new problem can’t be solved with old solutions. When your business has a deep lineup filled with different people who have various capabilities and experiences, creative solutions to new problems appear far more readily. A wide cast of quality characters always makes for a better outcome.”
MitoQ specializes in unique, cellular dietary supplements. Their Head of Customer Acquisition, Shaun Price, believes a company’s profits can prosper under diverse guidance.
“From top to bottom, diversity is one of the best things to happen to the corporate world in as long as I can remember. My only issue with it is that, as a concept, it can be a bit abstract. Statistics change this game for me. It’s been proven through studies that corporations who maintain diversity within their walls have seen a great increase in number to their bottom line. There’s probably so many reasons behind this that you could create a college degree just to understand its entirety but there’s no stronger statement than that of a bank account.”
Keep your employees
Sebastian Cruz Couture is a business providing luxury menswear. Their Co-founder, Cesar Cruz, proposes a diverse working environment lends itself to employee retention.
“Gone are the days of suffering endless years at a job to ensure that year quota is made in order to collect a pension. Employees have no issue finding another job that is far more suited to their skills as well as their beliefs. We’ve seen it over the last few years. If a company is revealed to have higher ups who have failed to respect or uphold diverse values, there are employees who clean out their desks based on this stuff alone. You want to keep your employees. Not just because hiring someone new is a headache but because the current employees’ experience in your company will continue to grow rather than starting from zero with that new hire.”
Justin Soleimani is the Co-founder of Tumble, a brand offering washable & spill proof rugs. He cautions others not to ignore diversity as it directly affects how employees feel regarding their employer.
“I think diversity has been around long enough, and is transparent enough as an idea, that we can safely and easily say it is a good thing. That’s not hard to understand so let’s take it a step further. If something is a good thing, then it stands to reason people would have positive associations to secondary things because of that primary good thing. This is absolutely true in the workplace. Companies who place an emphasis on diversity are held in much higher regard by their employees. When this is a regular thing, your company morale will be boosted more than you might think.”
An element of humanity
Nestig specializes in cribs and nursery products. Their Co-founder and CMO, Sara Adam Slywka, considers the presence of diversity for making the workplace feel less rigid.
“The atmosphere of an office is usually pretty palpable. You know when attitudes are up or down, if people are tired or engaged, and more. One of the most obvious of these characteristics is when people are feeling uncomfortable, stifled, or out of place. They withdraw from interactions and keep to themselves all because the office is a place of professionalism. A healthy, diverse workplace should bring an element of true humanity which ideally drops some of those professional walls a little.
Diversity is here to stay and it is for the best as evidenced by the experts. That being said, author Caterine Pulsifier put it best, “We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity, life would be very boring.”