Features November 2018

Smart Business: an all-encompassing workforce produces greater yields


Written By: John Spence

During my career, I have had the opportunity to travel around the world and work with a significant number of global companies. Through this experience, I have learned to appreciate the tremendous value derived from having a highly diverse workforce.

Here are just a few of the benefits of an inclusive environment that supports a diverse mix of employees:

  • Better ideas
  • Better decisions
  • More creativity
  • More innovation
  • Attracts top talent
  • Increases retention
  • Expands talent pool
  • Improves your company’s reputation
  • Increases profitability

In case you don’t take my word for it, according to a study from Glassdoor, 67 percent of jobseekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor to them when considering companies and job offers.

Research from McKenzie shows the most ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform the least ethnically diverse companies.

“More diverse companies are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction and decision-making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns,” its report on diversity said.

Some of you might say it’s hard to build a diverse workforce in a small town in North Central Florida, but you would be wrong. Let me give you an example. Here is an excerpt from the webpage of a local Gainesville business, Optym.

“Our team members hail from 20 countries across six continents, bringing together a wide range of ethnic, cultural and educational backgrounds. This diversity fosters an atmosphere of cooperation, understanding and openness to new ideas and perspectives. It also allows us to learn more about each other and the world in which we live.”

Optym is a business striving to become one of the world leaders in transportation optimization. I’ve had the great honor to work with its team and see how a business in our backyard embraces a truly global workforce.

I recently visited Optym’s offices for a meeting and gathered around the table were men and women from Italy, China, India, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and, yes, … the United States of America. Frankly, visiting the campus is no different than spending the day at Google, Apple or Microsoft – smart people from all over the world working together to build something special.

When I joined the workforce in 1989, it was “male, pale and stale.” Back then, I would look around at the top leaders and it would be 95 percent white males. Our backgrounds were essentially identical, we looked the same way, talked the same way, dressed the same way and thought the same way – not exactly a good formula for creativity and innovation.

Today’s high-performing companies are exactly the opposite. They are filled with a myriad of talented people from every facet of our society, embracing people from different genders, ages, cultures, religions, education levels and sexual orientation.

Every one of them brings unique qualities and value to their organization.

To me, one of the greatest things about working in a diverse organization is empathy. It is so enlightening to learn from people who have a different background and point of view, whose experience of the world is different from your own and who have the ability to teach you to look at things a different way.

Diversity isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s a great thing to do for your business. And again, don’t just take my word for it.

“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions and outcomes for everyone.”
— Sundar Pichai
    CEO of Google

“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing and inclusion.”
— Max de Pree
    CEO of Herman Miller Office Furniture

“If you hire only those people you understand, the company will never get people better than you are. Always remember that you often find outstanding people among those you don’t particularly like.”
— Soichiro Honda
    founder of Honda

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