Entrepreneur defines branding as: “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”
Branding is all about the perception that your products and services are both different and superior to those offered by your competitors. Branding is the reason consumers will spend more for brand name products, like Coke or Bayer, than less expensive alternatives. It’s the reason that a simple slash mark instantly conjures up images of Nike and excellence in athletic gear. However, branding is about much more than products, services, and consumer spending.
A comprehensive branding strategy addresses a variety of audiences–consumers, certainly, but also prospective employees. A successful employer branding strategy increases profitability, attracting the best talent by creating the perception that it’s a dynamic and innovative place to work, that it cares about its employees, and that it offers opportunities for personal fulfillment and professional advancement. Surprisingly, given these benefits, only about half of companies have a comprehensive employer branding strategy.
A spate of recent studies indicate that having employees who reflect the diversity of the population at large–culturally, racially and by gender, for example–enhances employer branding. Specifically:
1. Diverse Companies Are More Innovative: having employees from diverse backgrounds brings different ideas to the table, preventing “group think” and promoting innovation. According to a recent study from Deloitte, for example, diversity in race and gender generates diversity in thought. A diverse workforce ensures that some employees will be analytical, while others will have more creative propensities. Diverse approaches to the same problem generate new insights and enhance efficiency–both attractive qualities to prospective employees.
2. Diverse Companies Are More Dynamic: specifically, employees from diverse backgrounds function better in teams than those whose members are homogeneous. That’s the conclusion of research conducted at both MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Rutgers University. Teamwork and collaboration are critically important to workplace dynamism and employee satisfaction.
3. Diverse Companies are More Attractive to Talent: Universum, a global leader in employer branding, recently polled approximately 36,000 students at 24 universities in the UK to determine their views on diversity in the workplace. Among their findings, 80 percent (including 85 percent of women) felt it was important that an employer “engages in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.” Their definitions of what constitutes diversity were wide-ranging, including gender, nationality, ethnicity, age, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, religion, and physical disability. Companies that are perceived by these students as promoting diversity are, needless to say, more likely to attract them.
Promoting diversity in the workplace is about more than social responsibility. Diversity enhances your employer brand, creating among talented prospective employees the perception that you are an innovative, dynamic, and creative organization. A diverse workforce will help your company attract these talented employees, and by doing so, help you achieve your company’s key performance objectives.