We all probably know at least one person who becomes irate at the idea of companies making an active effort to diversify. This is due to the idea that diversification has a tendency to be demonized as a threat to job security or personal progress to those in the workplace majority.

I remember when I first began applying for jobs offshore, many other classmates were vying for a position with the same company that I had set my sights on. When I was offered a position with that company, I received an alarming number of comments on how “I was only hired for diversity’s sake…” – complete with eye rolls and air quotes. While I greatly resented the implication that I may have been hired for diversity instead of being hired based purely on my own merits, the fact remains that companies are making an active effort to diversify their workforce.

This active recruitment for diversity, however, is exceedingly important for companies, and here’s why:

Diversity Drives Innovation & Growth

The ability of a company to carve out a competitive edge is determined by its workforce. When that workforce is gender and ethnically diversified, it propels greater company innovation and growth. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, companies whose leaders have diverse backgrounds and experiences are “… 45% likelier to report a growth in market share over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.” Intersectional diversity is increasingly important for companies to maintain that elusive, competitive edge. Additionally a 2015 McKinsey study found that gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform competitors, while ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform. With diversity acting as a catalyst for growth, it’s no wonder companies are actively engaging in team diversification.

Diversity Promotes Personal Development

Experience also plays a huge role in business diversification.  Having a variety of different perspectives is crucial in remaining adaptive and creative in ever-changing markets. Diversity brings a wide array of experiences to the boardroom table that are invaluable to an innovative workforce. This diversity also challenges individuals within a workforce and becomes a source of personal development for employees by increasing personal creativity, due diligence, and improved work ethic. According to studies conducted by Dr. Katherine W. Phillips of the Columbia Business School, diversity not only provokes thought but also propels individuals to work harder both cognitively and socially, by improving personal work ethic and communication skills.  Having a team that constantly looks to improve itself is an asset to companies looking to accelerate their growth.

Diversity is Here to Stay

In 2016, Pew Research Center published demographical findings that show how those trends are shaping not only the United States, but the world as a whole. Americans are more diverse than at any other time in their history and are projected to continue that upward trend in the coming decades. For companies to maintain their competitiveness and marketability, the argument for diversification is essential to that conversation and subsequently, has never been more important than it is right now. According to Forbes, “Basic economic theory suggests that consumers will correct for a company’s lack of diversity by simply not spending money there…” Investors are taking notice of these trends  and many organizations look for a diversified business before considering that investment. Diversity is here to stay.  Companies that are slow or hesitant to get up to speed with diversifying their workforce, may find themselves suffering as a result.

What does all this mean for those in offshore industries?

Diversity is just as important in offshore industries, as it is elsewhere, when considering the unique issues and global demands that offshore companies face. Diversity brings a fresh look and ideas to the boardroom table of an industry that has long been ‘a one note chord’ in the diversity department. Varying perspectives, experiences and backgrounds help bring innovative solutions to important industry-specific issues like greenhouse gasses, acoustic noise, and oil pollution. Not only will industry become more adept in addressing such issues and formulating successful solutions, but more adaptable to ever-changing global demands and regulations. For offshore industries to maintain growth and innovation, they must continue active recruitment of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Diversity is key to success, and it is here to stay.

Jessica Aberle

About The Author: Jessica Aberle

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