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The Importance of Diversity: How Businesses are Expanding Diversity Within Their Organizations

Diversity has always been an important concept for companies to understand and embrace within their culture. This year, there has been a greater call to stand up for equal rights, and companies are not excused from this.

The term “diversity” can have a different meaning for everyone, so it is important to understand different peoples’ perspectives on it. As mentioned before, diversity in the workplace is important for organizations to incorporate into their culture and there are also benefits and advantages that come with fostering a diverse work environment. A diverse work environment can bring new perspectives, ideas, and potentially allow a company to grow exponentially. No company wants to remain stagnant, and hiring a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and experiences can help foster growth within a company’s culture.

Companies typically care about their image to their customers and it seems that today more so than ever, consumers are demanding more corporate social responsibility from the businesses/organizations they support. Corporate social responsibility is the practice of organizations being conscious of their impacts they have on a triad of topics such as economic, environmental and social issues. The goal of this concept is that businesses are not just operating to make a profit, but instead they are also taking responsibility for their impacts to society. This ties into diversity in the workplace because it is important that businesses can relate to their customer base in order foster relationships and maintain their customers.

In order to relate to one’s customer base, an understanding of cultural humility and cultural competence must be met. Cultural humility can be defined as “an ongoing process of self-exploration and self-critique combined with a willingness to learn from others.” Examples of practicing cultural humility include asking yourself: What are my values? How do I define my race? How do I define my gender? It is about looking inward and then taking what you learn about yourself, and applying it to be able learn from others. On the other hand, cultural competence is the ability to interact with people from different cultures. This includes working with people who have a different socioeconomic or religious background from yourself. We all come from different places and have diverse histories, so the better we can all relate and understand each other, the greater we can work together and be successful.

Once businesses have defined what diversity means to them, they need to be able to maintain their efforts to exemplify it in action. This can be through mentorship or development programs. Mentorship programs are a great way to foster a learning environment for new employees in which they can be creative and grow in the early years of their careers. There are numerous benefits that mentorship programs can contribute to their organization. For example, they promote personal and professional growth. They can increase job satisfaction which in turn increases the retention rate of employees.

Along with mentorship programs striving to encourage diversity, there are many professional women organizations that you can join as a woman in business. There is a plethora to choose from, but just to name a few of the top ones, there is the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). This organization strives to connect women of different backgrounds and help aid them in professional and personal growth through their different events. Another top professional women’s organization is the Business and Professional Women (BPW) International, which has a similar purpose as ABWA, however this organization connects women across the globe from up to 95 different countries. As previously acknowledged, there are so many different professional women organizations to join, and even sometimes businesses have their own version of them! These women organizations are a great way to find a supportive network within your business world and can provide different experiences you may not receive in other programs. As young women in business, it is always important to support one another.

As briefly mentioned in the beginning, there has been a call to action for organizations to step up and stand with minorities since the Black Lives Matter movement regained traction this past May and June. An example of an organization that has recently shifted their focus to these social justice issues includes General Motors (GM). They took a stance on the matters of racial injustice and even pledged $10 million dollars to support organizations that stand up for racial injustice. On top of donating money, GM also recognized Juneteenth which is the day to remember and celebrate those who were emancipated from slavery in the United States. JPMorgan Chase vouched $30 billion to try and mitigate the racial wealth gap that is prevalent in the United States. This mitigation of the wealth gap will come in the structure of loans, funding to support Black and Latinx owned businesses, improved access to banking and more. As you can see, organizations are trying to tackle these social issues in order for there to be more racial equality.

Whether businesses create mentorship programs, professional women organizations, or change their mission to better fit the current societal needs, there is always room for more diversity in the business world. It is crucial that businesses take responsibility in understanding the meaning of diversity so they can maintain their efforts to encourage a diverse work environment. Diverse work atmospheres promote a place where everyone feels welcome, employees and clients alike.

By: Ashley Mattson

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