Michael Chalmers: How Diverse is Today’s Workplace?

Michael Chalmers

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

The business case for diversity and inclusion is strong. Diverse teams are more representative of customers and more attractive to job candidates. A diverse workforce delivers a variety of viewpoints and a broader range of experience, which ultimately enhances decision-making and problem-solving. When employees perceive that a company and its leadership are committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace, they are more likely to stay with the company and recommend it to others, less likely to miss days at work and more engaged and productive. Given this, how well are employers delivering on the diversity imperative? According to Spherion research, not as well as they might like.

Somewhat Lukewarm Feelings on Success of Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Based on Spherion’s latest Emerging Workforce® Study of workforce trends and attitudes, workers of every generation and their HR leaders all express strong support for diversity and inclusion efforts. In fact, companies have gotten higher marks for their efforts this year compared to last, although progress, while positive, does not appear to be earthshaking.

When we asked employers and employees to describe the diversity of their workforce, their responses were identical:

  • Less than half or 46 percent said extremely or very diverse.

  • 39 percent said somewhat diverse.

  • 15 percent said not very or not at all diverse.

The Positive Impact of Diversity and Inclusion also has a Downside

When we took a closer look at year-over-year comparisons, we found several negative trends, which may point to issues that hinder the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives.

In 2017:

  • More employees feel their company sees no value in diversity and inclusion (34% vs. 28%)

  • More are confused about what diversity actually means (23% vs. 18%)

  • More believe their employer puts greater emphasis on diversity than on qualifications for new hires (44% vs. 37%)

  • Fewer are comfortable working within a diverse environment (78% vs. 94%)

What’s driving these feelings? Is it media hype? Broader definitions of diversity? Is it because the full spectrum of diversity is now much more familiar to people as the workplace opens up to include diverse elements that had not previously been openly acknowledged?

Diversity Drives Higher Performance

Both employers and employees strongly believe that diversity and inclusion are not only necessary to success, they are beneficial in terms of performance, growth and development, collaboration and competitiveness. A diverse and inclusive workplace inspires all employees to perform at their highest levels, which in turn drives enhanced business performance.

While employers tend to be far more bullish about diversity and inclusion, employees are also passionate about the appeal of an employer that has succeeded in achieving high levels of diversity and inclusion. Employees want to work in a diverse workplace, and employers know diversity is an important tool for recruiting talent.

Diversity and Inclusion More Important to Younger Workers

As important as diversity and inclusion are to all employees, younger workers tend to place ever greater value on a workplace that fully embraces diversity and inclusion. Millennials value diversity and inclusion even more than Gen Z, whose feelings seem to be a bit tempered. Perhaps due to their experience level (or lack thereof), Gen Z believes their employer values diversity more than qualifications when hiring. They also feel less strongly about the need for diversity and inclusion to appeal to customers and ensure global competitiveness.

Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion

The majority of employees, of every generation, believe their employer sees value in diversity and inclusion. That’s a good thing, since Spherion research findings indicate that nearly two-thirds of all workers and more than three-quarters of younger workers consider the composition of the workforce a significant factor in their desire to work for a company.

An employer’s ability to attract, engage and retain the best talent depends upon its ability to embrace diversity, promote inclusion and provide a workplace that is reflective of what job candidates and employees really want.

The best strategy for building a high-performance workforce is to tap into the broadest and most diverse pool of talent available to you, regardless of race, gender, generation, ethnicity, disability or any other trait that differentiates one human from another. To prosper, employers need to create teams that are reflective of the diversity of the customers and the communities they serve. When your workforce is both diverse and inclusive, your business is more likely to excel in sales and profitability, market share and talent management.

Local Spherion owner Michael Chalmers leads a team that has been serving the recruiting and staffing needs of Middle Georgia employers for nearly 20 years. Founded in 1946, Spherion is a staffing leader with more than 150 offices nationwide. Individually owned, each Spherion office offers clients and candidates the personalized service of a local business, along with the resources and expertise as part of a $2 billion workforce leader. To find out more about how Spherion connects people and jobs, call 478-956-1700 or visit spherion.com.