From The Oscars to The Office: Why Diversity Matters

From The Oscars to The Office: Why Diversity Matters

In the past few weeks Hollywood has been in uproar over the recent ‘Oscars Controversy’. The annual awards ceremony has come under fire for its apparent lack of diversity amongst this year’s nominees, who are all Caucasian. Prominent celebrities have hit back at the awarding body with some even choosing to boycott it, and we also saw the emergence of the #OscarsSoWhite trend on Twitter! However, one argument caught my attention, and it was one made by actress, Charlotte Rampling who suggested that  “perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the list”.

At the time of this controversy, I was, coincidentally, working on a recruitment project for a major FTSE business that was looking to bring on board individuals who specialised in improving Diversity within organisations. Diversity within organisations today is not limited to just race or gender, it encompasses a whole variety of differences in individuals including, but not limited to; sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. I thought back to Rampling’s comment and wondered how it could translate from The Oscars to the office. So, like the Oscars, do organisations need to implement a diversity strategy? Or are organisations becoming diverse by employing individuals who do ‘not deserve to make the list’?

 

Do organisations need to implement a diversity strategy, or are organisations becoming diverse by employing individuals who do ‘not deserve to make the list’?

The issue of diversity has been talked about and tackled for decades, and, more recently, it has now become commonplace for companies to employ individuals with this in mind, and adhere to strategies created to ensure a more diverse workforce. This has even been described as ‘another box to tick’. But what happens when that box has been ticked?
A study published by Deloitte University Press in 2014 questioned why “far fewer organisations can talk to the benefits of diversity beyond the attraction of talent and reputation”. The authors of this report, Juliet Bourke, Christie Smith, Heather Stockton and Nicky Wakefield, conducted a global study and found that one in five companies were ready to address the problem surrounding the gap between the urgency of this trend and a company’s readiness to address it, with the UK falling just under the ‘somewhat ready’ mark. It is no surprise that the creation of a diverse workforce has not been without its challenges; from communication problems, to social integration, to resistance to change. So does this mean that that having a diverse workforce is actually of little benefit, and just for show?

When conducting research for this article, the hardest task was finding evidence of the negative outcomes of having a diverse workforce, but the wealth of positives proved to be tremendous.
Each individual in a workplace is uniquely different. An environment filled with a wide variety of individuals fosters growth and personal development. By being exposed to different ideas, beliefs, personalities and perspectives, we are given the opportunity to open our minds emotionally and intellectually, resulting in us becoming well-rounded individuals. This has a knock-on effect on the work produced – by combining such different skills and pieces of knowledge; this can lead to an increase in productivity and quality of work.
Some types of organisations can be said to benefit better than others. Take recruitment as an example; some recruitment businesses have a global client base, therefore, someone who is a native of a foreign country that the organisation is targeting, who knows the language and culture, is, for many reasons, invaluable.

The benefits of a diverse workforce are endless. But, in the melting-pot society we live in today, it is becoming more of a necessity. It’s not just about ‘ticking the box’; it’s about what an organisation does after the box is ticked. Language, social integration, mentalities surrounding change – these are all issues that can be overcome. More and more businesses are adopting and implementing strategies to maximise the benefits of a diverse environment. Perhaps it shouldn’t be about who does and doesn’t ‘deserve’ to be employed, but how businesses can create and utilise a diversity model in their employment strategy to benefit all involved – from employees to clients.

People that make up a workforce are like the ingredients of a very complex recipe – each one is very different, but equally important for the finished product.

 

 

 

 

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