By SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator (acting) Steve Bulger

For many small business owners, their workforce often naturally reflects their own cultures and experiences rather than that of their communities. However, bringing together people of various backgrounds with different life experiences provides unique perspectives that can be of benefit not only to employees, but to the business owner. In short, workplace diversity is good for business.

Gallup studies have found that businesses with diverse workgroups have higher profits. They also found companies that emphasized diversity in the workplace had employees that were more likely to stay at the company. Creating an environment of inclusion is a must in the workplace that results in a happier, healthier company and community.

Everyone has their own way of viewing situations shaped by their individual experiences. Diversity empowers groups to use those unique experiences to find unique solutions and improve inter-group understanding. The values and culture of a company have a direct effect on employees, customers and ultimately the bottom line.

Diversity is a major ingredient in enabling innovation to truly take a business to the next level. Embracing differences fuels productive thinking, different takes on the customer experience, and even the business process itself. Diversity disrupts the “echo chamber” effect in which businesses tend to falter and fail because “we’ve always done it this way,” or, “everyone else does it this way.” A wide community of ideas gives us more data to make smarter, more informed decisions.

Recruiting and retention are impacted by diversity as well. Candidates naturally ask themselves, “Do I see myself fitting in here?” Gender identity, race, age and other factors helps candidates decide if they will feel safe and welcome. 

Once the candidate is on board, those same factors help them decide if they will stay. A happy, consistent workforce makes for a productive team.

I encourage small business owners to embrace inclusivity so that people of all backgrounds feel safe and welcomed, from gender identity and sexual orientation to race and socioeconomic background. Businesses that commit to a diverse workforce can make a stronger team and a stronger community.

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