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The UAE has a diverse society. Individuals have constant access to a multitude of nationalities not only on a social level but also in the workplace. Diversity refers to the range of differences among people in an organisation. It includes race, gender, ethnic group, age, thinking style, tenure, education and background.
Diversity not only benefits the employees but also provides the company with a competitive advantage. When firms implement diversity plans, multiple gains are reported including increased creativity, adaptability, innovation and a broader service offering.
Teams with employees from diverse backgrounds and experiences can produce more creative ideas and approaches to solving problems. Workers from diverse backgrounds each brings specific talents and experiences which, as a collective, can provide the team with different ideas. A larger pool of ideas and thoughts can help individuals and the company adapt better to fluctuating markets and customer demands.
Research by Hewlett and colleagues (2013), mentioned in the Harvard Business Review, provides evidence that diversity can unlock innovation and drive market growth. The researchers looked at two different kinds of diversity: inherent and acquired. When correlating diversity in leadership with market outcomes, they found that leaders who exhibit at least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits out-innovate and outperform other companies.
A varied collection of skills and experiences within a workforce can allow companies to provide services to a wider range of customers. This is particularly relevant in the UAE as companies here provide services globally with a huge variety of clients to serve.
Embracing differences is important not only to increase creativity, adaptability and innovation, but also to inspire employees to freely express their views and perform to their highest ability.
• Encourage the sharing of different ideas in your organization
• Broaden knowledge by learning about a new culture, language
• Inspire employees to freely express their views, perform better
Get tips on creating a truly engaged workforce and workplace
Source: Nicola Turner, Special to Jobs & Careers
The writer is Organisational Psychologist, HRI&C