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How Diversity At The Workplace Is Good Business


Google

Google has taken over from Apple as the most valuable brand of 2017, with a monetary valuation of $109.5 billion.

That comes as no surprise to those of us who find Googling as natural as eating or sleeping or breathing. It’s the first place we go when we want to know something – Google handles 80% of all Internet searches on the planet!

From obscure historical events, random medical issues, a bank’s opening hours, the best route to Poland, the weather tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur, and so on and so forth, Google is an infinite well of knowledge just waiting for us to key in search terms.

Recently however, a recent article in Fortune states that Google is looking to add more diversity into their workplace. Because to NOT do so may impede their ability to keep growing.

Tech companies in the Silicon Valley have faced criticism as being male-centric and largely devoid of non-Asian people of color. With Google, 71% of employees in US are Male, 57% are white and the vast majority of technology jobs and leadership positions are held by men. And they are realizing that it’s a problem.

An analysis by Thomson Reuters confirms this, finding that companies that “proactively built and consistently fostered a diverse workforce often financially outperform their peers”.

It seems like common sense that organizations should seek to attract, retain and develop the best employees, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or class. But long entrenched biases could get in the way. After all, it’s hard for a leopard to change its spots.

Now diversity may seem like a HR issue, and a strange topic to cover on this blog. But the truth is, how diverse your workplace is could directly impact on your brand.

Diverse Talents Create Diverse Products

Different people experience the world in different ways – a labourer from Bangladesh sees the world very differently from an ex-pat from London. A blind, autistic, physically disabled person experiences a different world than someone abled. A woman has different perspectives than a man.

In our globalized world, companies must now create products, services and branding to address the shifting landscape of customer tastes, language, culture and diverse preferences.

So when a workplace is diverse, there is a chance that more views can be taken into account. And this matters when it comes to creating a product that can be used for everyone.

Google got into hot water in 2015 when their new Google photo-search application began tagging images of black people as gorillas. Bradley Horowitz, team leader of Google Photos at the time of the incident admits that if the team had been more diverse, it would have noticed the problems earlier in the process.

Diverse Companies Attract Diverse Talents

A company is built by its employees- a strong workforce creates a strong employer brand. Google is well-known for being a dream workplace, with 2 million applicants worldwide every year. This is reinforced by their stringent interview process and requirements.

However, a narrow set of inclusion requirements has cost Google as well- Kevin Systrom was turned away from an associate product manager program because he had the wrong degree. And he went on to found Instagram, which he sold to Facebook for $1billion.

Authenticity Matters

Gone are the days when brands weren’t required to be transparent, where they didn’t have to actively look like they lived the values they were peddling, where they simply packaged a product for someone to buy. A brand today needs to really live their vision, internally and externally.

One of the perks a diverse workplace offers is better, more creative, more authentic ideas, created for the target audience by the target audience.

“Diversity makes all tech better, and our products better” says Anna Patterson, a Google engineer and co-chair of Women at Google.

Employees also function as brand ambassadors for their companies. A disenfranchised employee can make their views known far and wide these days, tarnishing a brand’s name in a matter of days.

As Malaysia is a multi-cultural, multi-racial country, it is even more crucial to have varied viewpoints in the workplace. How is your company creating a more diverse workplace?
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