December 8, 2017
The Business Benefits of Diversity
by Hannah Botkin-Doty, The Law Firm of Doty and Obenour
William Cowper said it memorably, “Variety is the very spice of life that gives it all its flavor.” Often when folks hear the buzzword “diversity,” they think in metrics: slots to be filled, boxes to be ticked. Many instinctively think of ethnic or cultural diversity, but there are many other ways to be diverse and inclusive and to help your business thrive.
Diversity of thought, diversity of experience and diversity of skill, each of these traits should be sought out and developed in your existing and future employees. How? Look at their backgrounds and their work history, ask them about their passions and ask them to solve problems in a group environment, observe and encourage positive results as they come. As publisher of Forbes Magazine, Malcolm Forbes puts it: “Diversity is the art of thinking independently together.” Only by finding and fostering the unique passions and skills of individuals around you can your common goal of a successful and enduring business be attained.
Now, obviously a person’s upbringing, race, socioeconomic status, age, gender and sexual orientation, will frame their values and their perspectives, but as a business owner, you should never assume that an individual will conform to a stereotype of a group.
It’s not just about hiring new diverse candidates. You can start where you are and work with what you already have. Don’t have the time or interest to poll your people to find out how they feel? Take a few minutes to look at what has already been done. The Women Lawyers of Franklin County, in their 75th year, published a survey of women lawyers from every practice, age group, race and walk of life: http://www.wlfc.ws/WLFC/Survey
Truly, the best first step you can take to promote diversity and nurture an inclusive environment is to take the time to get to know your people on a personal level. Only then can you pick up on their passions and values that you can harness to serve your customer and your bottom line. All the while boosting workplace morale, loyalty to you and the company without spending a dime to do so.
Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common, and only by doing the work and embracing these complimentary differences can progress and profit be made.