Many were immigrants to London hailing from across the British Isles, Europe, North Africa, Asia and beyond with nothing other than their extraordinary talents to link them. And collectively their impeccable, refined tailoring skills elevated the story of British elegance.
London’s Jermyn Street serves as a vibrant historical reminder of the valuable impact diversity has in the workplace. Tailors were hired because of the difference they could bring with their fresh ideas, superior skills and alternate points of view, which continues in the fashion industry today, drawing from eclectic global influences.
This story is not unique to fashion, of course. A diverse workplace creates a high performing, successful organisation thanks to people of every gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion, culture, education level, sexual orientation and ability that form the melting pot of any pool of talent.
1. Creates richer problem-solving and creativityHow we see the world and how you see the world differs from how others see the world. So it makes sense that the more diverse the employees in a workplace, the more extensive, varied and dynamic the collective thinking becomes.
People from different countries and of varying faces, religions, and ethnicities bring a diverse cultural perspective that amplifies product and service development, potentially broadening appeal to a wider consumer market. People from varying ages, employment and education backgrounds bring fresh thinking based on unique knowledge and experience. This leads to richer, more robust ideas, greater contingency planning and more effective business solutions. A Harvard Business Review study supports this, finding that the more cognitively different a group is, the faster they solve problems.
2. Gives your organisation access to the best talentIf the door is wide open to people that aren’t facsimiles of one another, the cultural value of a workplace improves making it attractive to diverse, varied and multi-skilled and experienced talent. We humans love to feel like we belong to the cultural milieu of a workplace. More than that, we need to belong. Psychologists say that having a sense of belonging sustains us as much as food and shelter. So the more an inclusive cultural vibrancy is nurtured in a workplace, the more attractive your organisation will be. And that top talent you’ve been searching for will come a-knocking.
3. Connects your business globally
When a workforce comprises people from all over the world, as well as connecting to diverse thinking, it connects organisations globally. New Zealand is famous for its two degrees of separation but the rest of the world is surprisingly close to that number. It may be (and this happens more than you can imagine!) that one of your employees knows someone who knows someone who will solve a major business challenge for you and grow your operation exponentially.
Connection and contacts are everything in business, particularly if your business wants to reach huge markets in India and China, which rely on knowing the right people. The more your team reflects the market you want to break into to, the more likelihood you’ll succeed at growing into that market.
4. Makes for happier employees
Having engaged employees is the holy grail for employers and a Deloitte study suggests a direct link between diversity and staff engagement, which together increase productivity. It’s more than simply celebrating and acknowledging diversity and inclusion in the workplace however. It’s about continuing it beyond the annual report into every aspect of the organisation (no matter what the size), from providing special rooms for prayer and meditation, days off for religious festivals, and bringing celebrations into the workplace.
While it’s easy to commemorate usual calendar events such as Easter, Anzac Day and Labour Day, broadening the scope to include Pride, Chinese New Year, Eid Al-Fitr after Ramadan, Matariki, Diwali, Hanukkah and more can only add to workplace vibrancy for everyone. If you’re stuck for ideas, centre celebrations around food and you’re onto a winner!
5. Makes for happier employers
What makes for happy employees pays off tenfold for employers. Happy, fulfilled employees stay longer, with low turnover saving a business thousands per year. And when asked about turnover in interviews, when staff retention is high, it becomes a huge selling point for new recruits (after all, who wants to join a business where everyone is jumping ship?). Productivity and morale drops when staff leave too, impacting the financial and cultural bottom lines.
Happy employees also positively impact reputation with clients and business partners, who regard your organisation as a pleasure to work with. Add in enhanced decision-making, global connection, and attracting the best talent, and your organisation has a huge competitive edge. Your workplace becomes where talent wants to work, play and stay, and there’s no limit to its potential.