Diversity within a business increases factors such as productivity, growth and staff retention. Ashley Community Housing is a great example of how a diverse workforce helps a business flourish. 
 
Ashley Community Housing is a great example of how a diverse workforce helps a business to flourish. 
 
Diversity within businesses can still be seen in terms of quotas or as a tick box exercise. Some businesses will take it a step further, using it as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility where they are aiming to do something good. 
 
However, these types of businesses aren’t realising the true potential of a diverse workforce. Whilst it is a great thing to do, businesses only look at one small benefit of this, which is how their company is perceived. Yet the positive impact it can have upon the way a business works exceeds this initial benefit of just creating a good reputation for your business. 
 
Diversity is important because a mix of backgrounds, experiences and cultures will bring different viewpoints together, and the conflict this creates is a positive one. “The best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.” says James Surowiecki, Staff Writer at The New Yorker. 
 
The benefits of a diverse workforce do not end there. Diversity boosts productivity, company growth and staff retention. All of these factors contribute to reducing costs within any business as: 
• Productivity = higher work rate 
• Growth = higher margins for profit 
• Staff retention = reduced staff costs 
According to the Society for Human Resources Management, “employee replacement costs can reach as high as 50 to 60 percent of an employee's annual salary.” 
 
A Forbes study found that there are three main successes that a business will achieve through having a diverse workforce. These are innovation, reflecting society and attracting top talent. 
Innovation comes from allowing a range of varied voices to impact decision-making, which leads to a rise in creativity and productivity. These voices have varying experiences, opinions and ideas to bring to any discussion. “At the end of the day, when you’re creating an environment where people can come together and bring their own views and feel respected, competitively, your company will do so much better.” - Debbie Storey, Senior Vice President of Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer at AT&T. 
 
Reflecting society is important as businesses should be representative of the places they are located, and of the customer base they wish to attract. This diversity enables them to directly relate to and communicate better with that market. 
 
This also enables them to attract the top talent from their target market: “If you want to attract the best talent, you need to be reflective of the talent in that market,” said Eileen Taylor, Deutsche Bank’s Global Head of Diversity. 
 
We pride ourselves on the diversity of staff members at all levels within Ashley Community Housing. A number of our staff are first or second-generation refugees themselves, services are provided in multiple languages, and we ensure we create services and training that appreciates the cultural inheritances that beneficiaries bring with them. In 2016, we also achieved a 50/50 gender balance within our staff as we employed a number of Muslim women in graduate positions across our three offices. This was recognised by The Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), leading to us participating in their practitioner research programme on superdiversity and undertaking two pieces of research with them. 
Having buy in from the top is key to diversity and inclusion within a business, and that is why ACH has flourished in terms of diversity and the impact this has had on the company. Our CEO, Fuad Mohamed, works hard to ensure we are an example of best practice in embodying diversity, employing staff culturally responsive to the needs of newly arrived refugees/asylum seekers from a range of backgrounds. 
 
Our diversity drives forward innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, which we believe allows us to operate in a different and unique way compared to most refugee organisations. Our thought leadership encompasses these varied viewpoints, from senior management downwards. The company encourages input from every level and this approach has attracted top talent from a large range of backgrounds. 
 
It has also helped us to grow. In the past 12 months, we have increased employee numbers by 13% and have grown our turnover by 22%, against an industry average of just 5-7%. 
This is backed up by analysis by McKinsey showing that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Diversity is not just a great thing to be seen to be doing, it is a key factor in business growth.  
 
To find out more about how we have achieved this at ACH and how you can too, contact Richard on richard.thickpenny@ashleyhousing.com . 
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