Does Workplace Diversity Increase Productivity?

Smart employers embrace differences to get the job done.

Smart employers embrace differences to get the job done.

The 22-year-old assistant who constantly checks her social media status can be irritating, but not when you need a Twitter campaign launched in 10 minutes. Instead of seeing her as annoying, consider her an asset: while she differs in age and experience from the rest of the team, her tech-savvy skills and pop-culture knowledge in invaluable. According to Douglas N. Silverstein, a Los Angeles-based employment and labor law attorney at Kesluk & Silverstein, P.C., when employees of diverse backgrounds get together, productivity soars. The mixture of skills, experiences and opinions allows for more creative ideas, quicker solutions and the ability to serve a broader range of clients.

Cultural Differences

A variety of cultures within the workplace helps to capture clients on a global scale, says Brad Karsh, president of Chicago-based JB Training Solutions, a company that works with employers to enhance business skills. "Clients want to do business with people who understand their culture and can appreciate shared experiences or backgrounds." If a corporation from Budapest hires an American advertising agency to launch a campaign, it benefits everyone if a creative or executive on the company's team speaks Hungarian. A genuine appreciation and understanding for a culture will make presentations, business meetings and communication more targeted and accurate.

Generational Distance

In 2012, there were 22,857 age discrimination claims filed, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What employers who discriminate fail to realize is that a diverse mixture of ages can appeal to a broader customer base, make execution of documents and ideas more effective, and help the company come up with multiple solutions to problems. When all age groups are respected in the workplace, employees feel appreciated and valued. This makes them work harder, volunteer for leadership roles and engage in philanthropic initiatives.

Gender Roles

Having representation from all sexes -- male, female, gay, lesbian, transgender and non-sexed -- can increase marketing opportunities, recruitment and business image, and creativity. If three men are responsible for choosing a woman's purse color, it helps tremendously if a female employer also reviews the color swatches. When a company recruits at a college, it behooves them to have an openly gay male and executive female, for example, sitting at the table in the hopes of attracting like-minded candidates. The more gender representation a company has, the better chance it has at success in all areas.

Diverse Skill Set

A 2004 research study by a group of business professors from Washington University in St. Louis concluded that, overall, workplace teams that possessed diverse employee skill sets were the most productive. The group's diverse experience and training skills allowed each person to make a unique contribution to the team. Because of this, employees enjoyed great personal and job satisfaction. Workers earned a better salary; managers experienced less turnover; and the company saved money.

 

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images