The definition of a diverse business environment is a workplace that employs people from various socio-economic backgrounds, experience level, orientation, and age. However, do we have the language to understand the specific challenges that come with each group?
In its concept alone, diversity in the workplace is not homogeneous, and it depends on the specific organization and even its location. For example, an organization located in Los Angeles may employ a large number of Hispanics, possibly mainly Mexican-Americans, Caucasians, and African-Americans, while an office based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, may be represented by a more significant number of Asians, while in San Francisco, there may be a large number of employees from the LGBT community. Many of them will have grown up in or near the West Coast. If some originated from areas like the midwest, or southwest, they might have come to the west for their education and stayed on after graduation to find work. The Scope Weekly spoke with Vanessa Yanez, World Wide Head of Print Communications at HP, who said, “If the organization, such as HP, has international locations, a small portion of the workers could transfer from other areas of the country or even abroad.”
A culture of equality drives innovation and growth. – Vanessa Yanez
A different business environment has many benefits to offer. When asked about the benefits and challenges a workplace with contrasting business ideas bring, Yanez told The Scope Weekly, “Employees from different backgrounds have different experiences and can bring contrasting ideas to better the company, ” adding, “No doubt that companies from different backgrounds are better equipped to compete globally.” How so? “For starters, the different viewpoints may closely simulate the perspective of the customers that the company is trying to reach,” she said. Think about it; businesses based within the U.S. that provide services or products to Latin American countries will only benefit by having employees that are knowledgeable about the different countries and cultures. Localization is a crucial factor. On top of culture, language issues can hinder a company as well. When a company has employees that can speak the local language, Spanish, Japanese, French, or others, it will have a competitive edge over companies that don’t. Clients and customers like to feel a connection to a company or organization. Have a common ground, a way to connect with them will ensure loyalty. Apart from the benefits on a business level, there is a morally conscious benefit as well. There is a growing belief in the United States, and other diverse nations, that companies who employ people from various backgrounds are more socially conscious and value diversity and are concerned with social equality, but let’s be clear, ethnic diversity isn’t enough.
It is more widely accepted that now upper-level executives in a corporation have to reflect the society at large and promote from its diverse labor pool.
In 2019, California became the first state requiring corporations to have at least one female on their board of directors. The Senate Bill No. 826 was drafted by former-California Governor Brown and is hoping to offer breakthrough opportunities for seasoned female professionals. Companies like HP have long adopted a robust diversity model for Californians to visualize for their home companies. Yanez said, “HP has already seen a 6% increase in female board directors since 2015, and the momentum keeps growing, and more need to follow suit.”
Even though there are benefits to a diverse business environment, it also comes with its own set of challenges and obstacles as well. Communications between people from different backgrounds and experiences can be difficult. The way people view the world, morals, ethics, and manners can differ based on region, race, age, gender, and sexual identification. When people have trouble communicating due to those differences, it can hinder the expression of ideas and morals. A common language must be developed. It is essential that managers and employers establish ways to have an open expression of approaches to understanding the concept of intersectionality, a term first coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles, almost 30 years ago.
With greater understanding within its organization, a company accesses a wide range of knowledge, expertise, and sensitivity, which in turn, benefits its ability to connect to its customers, and spurs financial growth.
At HP, we know that leading on inclusion and diversity is critical. We understand the culture of equality drives innovation and growth, and for us, it’s just the beginning of the exploration.