Today, diversity in the workplace is much more than a vital social goal or the result of a requisite legal calculation. Forward-looking companies understand that building diverse teams of employees within their ranks at every level is actually critical to their organizational and operational success.
In other words, diversity is not just a business requirement, and it is not just the right thing to do; it is the genesis of a powerful business advantage – sparking innovation, creativity and efficiency. To capitalize on the remarkable workplace dynamic that results when differences in talents, viewpoints and experiences are embraced, organizations should start by developing a clear strategy to embed the search for diversity within their core principles.
What does it mean to cement the goal of diversity within your company’s very foundation? In basic terms, it means that your HR team is not simply looking to meet numbers or satisfy rules; instead, your whole organization is looking to expand the employment horizon by finding and cultivating the best talent that truly reflects the world around us.
Demographic changes, the globalization of people and things, and rapidly evolving systems of communication – all have created a world very different than it was fifty years when affirmative action was established in the United States. Potential new employees can come from every corner of the world, and their work can be enhanced with the help of life-changing technologies. In the global age, diversity matters more than ever. Companies need to understand and use these differences, managing every aspect of diversity including age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and physical capabilities. But they need to look even further, recognizing that there are diverse world views, life experiences and interests that can create uniquely driven and collaborative teams within the workplace.
There is no shortage of compelling research supporting the business benefits of diversity. A McKinsey and Company study demonstrates how diversity in top management delivers higher earnings and returns. Recent research by Gallup found that gender diversity was associated with better financial outcomes in 800 different business units at two large corporations. And, a study by Forbes reveals the way that diversity promotes internal innovation and financial success. The idea that including a variety of perspectives on business teams can create an advantage is not new, but with each passing year – as customers, partners and stakeholders become more global – the importance of inclusion becomes more vital.
At DHL Express, with our parent company Deutsche Post DHL Group, the pursuit of diversity is central to our mission, which makes sense for a global company operating in over 220 countries and territories worldwide and employing over 480,000 people from a broad mix of cultures and nationalities. In fact, it makes sense for every kind of company of every size. And regardless of the organization, achieving true diversity takes planning, effort and a constant mindfulness of the task at hand.
How can your company reach and manage a diverse workplace? Above all, it must be a central tenet of your HR strategy. For larger organizations, a comprehensive diversity management system and oversight committee can work; for smaller companies, it should be written into your business plan and serve as a consistent goal of your hiring strategy. The creation of a Diversity Vision Statement is a good place to start.
Deutsche Post DHL Group has initiated a wide array of projects and programs across our organization to promote diversity in hiring, and just as importantly, to create a culture of inclusion, understanding and acceptance. From the creation of a “Charter of Diversity” in 2007 to the establishment of a Diversity Council in 2013, DHL has continually expanded and improved its approach. And that persistence and commitment is a key part of the equation. Companies must understand that the work of pursuing inclusion is ongoing, and that it should command the attention of management at the highest levels.
While diversity in hiring is one part of the task, promoting complete inclusion within the organization on every operational level is essential. At DHL, we provide a special management-level training program on the subject on diversity, and we introduced our “Diversity Day” across the company to broadcast the importance of inclusion in every business unit. The goal is to make sure that each employee recognizes his or her unique potential and central importance to our collective progress.
Your people should truly be a reflection of your diverse customer base – and the even broader base that your growing company aims to realize. Including multiple world perspectives on your teams, attracting and retaining employees who speak a variety of languages, and seeking out individuals from different backgrounds can only enhance your organization’s offerings. The benefits are clear: a more collaborative workplace, the promotion of innovation and critical thinking, greater synergies with customers and a powerful business reputation.
What has your organization done to embrace diversity as a critical business advantage? Let us know at @DHLUS.