Diversity in Small Businesses

Affirmative Action

How important is it to have diversity in the workplace? While it's true that non-compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity or Affirmative Action legislation may lead to penalties or cause your small business to lose government contracts, there are better reasons to promote diversity in your workforce. The bottomline is that workplaces are enriched by the diversity of their workforces in a variety of ways that help to grow the business.

When most people hear the words "affirmative action" or "diversity," they automatically assume that it is all about avoiding discrimination and a possible lawsuit.

Affirmative Action

But the truth about diversity is far from it. Even if you do not consider yourself a minority, the fact is that diversity can help both you and your business thrive.

If your business is not currently diverse and you has not implemented a diversity initiative, here are several important reasons why you should consider diversity in the workplace a primary goal.

Diversity encourages creative collaboration.

People from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and sub-cultures bring a variety of strengths and perspectives. These varied perspectives can very often open the doors to creativity in ways that more homogenous groups do not experience.

A more diverse staff more closely represents the real world and real markets.

A diverse staff inherently brings a variety of life experiences, values, and worldviews to your workplace. Face it, the world has changed. Most businesses aren't solely targeting small local markets where everyone tends to share similar values and/or beliefs. Our economy and our businesses have gone global. Global markets require global strategies, and a diverse workforce is more capable of conceptualizing and delivering the strategies that will work.

A diverse staff can increase the overall effectiveness of your business.

A diverse staff can very often create an environment where new ideas can be tested for their effectiveness even before they hit the market. For instance, a diverse team can determine if a product or message that speaks to the dominant culture will carry the same impact with minority groups or with women.

This can be done before large amounts of time and money are spent on the concept. More importantly, a diverse workforce has the potential to help determine whether a particular marketing campaign might be construed as offensive by any particular group. We don't all see things the same way . . . it pays to seek input from people with different points of view and perspectives.

The bottom line - diversity in the workplace is good business.

Many people still shy away from the issue of diversity because they perceive it as simply being "politically correct." But, the fact is that a good businessperson cannot afford to ignore diversity. Given the plurality of both domestic and global markets, businesses cannot afford to ignore entire segments of their consumer base. By employing a natural mix of men, women, and so-called minorities, a business is more likely to develop and market products that will sell in today's pluralistic environment.

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