THE BLOG
04/29/2016 03:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Having a Diverse Work Team Is Essential for Competitive Businesses

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Despite receiving support from the federal government, the LGBT community continues to face discrimination as North Carolina recently enacted an anti-LGBT law that limits bathroom access for transgender individuals. Discrimination of this form, or any kind for that matter, severely limits communities, schools, and businesses from accepting or encouraging diversity and growth. In particular, businesses have proven to greatly benefit from diversity as recent research has found that a diverse work team is great for business due to diversity of thought.

By employing a staff with a varied scope of ideas and approaches to solving problems, managers may be able to create a workforce that has a positive effect on the bottom line. For example, a diverse work team naturally possesses a variety of perspectives and opinions that enhance creativity and innovation. This greater range of ideas can spawn differences in approach to decision-making and problem solving. Whereas homogeneous groups suffer from the limiting idea that there is "one right way" to approach a task, groups that value and encourage a person's unique view are saved from a stagnancy of ideas and are able to understand that there may be numerous paths to success. When the members of a diverse group are able to work together, they are able to engage in more complex thinking, enhancing the team's performance and outcomes.

The creativity and innovation that comes with diversity also boosts a business' adaptability because employees can present a variety of actions to take on the tasks and problems that arise. Companies are then able to offer a broader range of services due to the wide range of knowledge, skills, and experiences of the employees. The deeper decision-making skills and complex thinking of a diverse group lead to new sources of revenue and more effective services, eliminating the wasting of resources on research or outsourcing expert opinions. Also, keep in mind that an organization's ability to relate to its customers can greatly increase the bottom line as well.

As a social equity scholar, I understand that integrating diversity efficiently and successfully may be a challenge, so managers should note the key areas of focus that a recent study from Deloitte found for increasing diversity in the workplace.

Hiring with diversity in mind may require a new approach. Managers should look to hire candidates who are not exactly like themselves, but rather individuals who may be able to bring a new perspective to the business. It is also important that managers understand their team's needs. Being able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of current employees will not only help managers use their staff effectively, but it will let them know what skill sets and perspectives to look for in new hires. It is also helpful to think about how your workforce resembles the customer base to whom you are marketing.

While at work, managers should continuously encourage their team to speak their opinion. The innovative ideas that come from a diverse group of employees are meaningless if no one feels comfortable enough to speak their minds. While it may be hard for managers to hear their own ideas be contradicted, instead of shutting down conflict, it can be beneficial to use conflict to initiate new ways of thinking about an issue. By creating a necessary space for disagreements, conflicting ideas can be fleshed out, evaluated and utilized for productive and innovating thinking.

Overall, managers need to be open to fresh ideas in order to nurture diversity and improve their business growth. Having an openness to an individual's unique experiences and conflicting points of view can provide insight to all members of an organization and their target audience. Smart managers, the ones who truly care about their company, will understand the growing importance of workplace diversity and continue to seek ways to integrate diversity and thought diversity to foster fresh ideas and boost the bottom line.