What Are the Benefits of Workplace Diversity?

by Scott Morgan

    The business environment in the early 21st century is a truly global affair, as U.S. companies do business with companies in every time zone and in hundreds of languages. This makes having a diverse workforce an advantage for companies seeking a place in the global market. But diversity also improves companies from the inside, by fostering better employee interactions and tapping into a broader well of talent.

    Multiple Perspectives

    Workers from various cultural and social backgrounds allow for multiple perspectives on internal and external issues. When a new policy is presented, for example, a more diverse pool of employees can advise management if something appears as insensitive. A broader array of perspectives also can break up group think. In their 2009 article for the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, "Is the Pain Worth the Gain? The Advantages and Liabilities of Agreeing With Socially Distinct Newcomers," psychologists Katherine W. Phillips, Katie A. Liljenquist and Margaret A. Neale say that more diverse groups are more likely to bring new ideas to the table.

    A Better Talent Pool

    By broadening its reach, a company looking to hire new talent stands a better chance of finding top-quality employees when it recruits from a more diverse set of candidates. A company staffed with workers from various cultural backgrounds is better able to communicate with companies and clients from different countries and areas. Phillips and her collaborators even found that companies comprised of employees who grew up in different states can increase a group's output and raise the competitive bar.

    Economic Growth

    The Center for American Progress states that the United States' economy -- particularly at the entrepreneurial level -- moves in lock step with the number of women, minorities and gay and transgender workers entering the workforce. The National Association of Women Business Owners reported, for example, that minority women owned 1.9 million firms, employed 1.2 million people and generated $165 billion in revenue annually, as of 2006. Latina-owned businesses alone have generated $55.7 billion between 2002 and 2012, according to the National Women's Business Council.

    Increased Creativity and Productivity

    "Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges, and the Required Managerial Tools," a report published in 2008 by the University of Florida, reveals that while staffs tend to act as a unit for the company, simply respecting individual differences can increase productivity. Similarly, the study by Phillips and company finds that diverse groups tend to devise better solutions, even when individuals believe they do not work well together. She suggests that a degree of discomfort can improve results compared to ideas devised by a more familiar, comfortable and homogeneous group.

    About the Author

    Scott Morgan is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered central New Jersey since 2001. He has worked with the Princeton Packet Newsgroup, US 1 Publishing, "Unique Homes Magazine" and Community News Service. Morgan also serves as a professional speaker and teacher. He holds a bachelor's degree in humanities from Thomas Edison State College.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images