We’re constantly told that diversity is a good thing. Unfortunately, when you hear something often enough, you take that knowledge for granted — instead of being “good for reasons X, Y, and Z”, it just becomes “good”. It’s accepted as fact, and once you’ve accepted something as fact, you stop thinking about it in so much detail.

And that’s where the problems start. Diversity for the sake of diversity won’t do you much good. It’s only once you step back and start thinking about it again that you’ll actually be able to benefit. If you need help with that, try starting here:

Diversity boosts innovation

If all your employees have the same qualifications and come from the same backgrounds, they’re more likely to come up with the same ideas. Lack of diversity also makes it harder for you to understand what customers (with different backgrounds and education to your own) might want. Your customers aren’t all the same, so your employees shouldn’t be, either. Japanese technology companies are really suffering from this at the moment — with executive boards made up almost exclusively of middle-aged Japanese males, there’s very little diversity at all.

Diversity makes you flexible

In order to stay ahead, you need to be capable of evolving. The more diverse your workforce, the easier it will be for you to do this. Different people will bring different ideas to the company, and those who are open to change will lead or encourage others to do the same. Do you think your employees would feel comfortable voicing a different, outside-the-box opinion, or would they fear rejection or criticism for doing so? If it’s the latter, you’ve got work to do. Diversity isn’t just about ethnicity, gender and sexuality — it’s about all the things that make humans different people.

Diversity encourages individuality

People are happiest in environments where they feel totally comfortable being themselves. Workplace diversity means there’s no norm, so employees are less likely to feel pressured to act in a certain way or express certain views. Obviously, a happy workforce is far more effective than a miserable one. Happy employees are easier to retain, and are more likely to speak positively about your business outside of the office.

Diversity means choice

Companies that embrace diversity have far more talent to choose from, and not only that, but minorities who are usually underrepresented in your field will be more inclined to work with you if they know they’ll be accepted. Nobody wants to feel like they’re the odd one out in an office, so the more diverse your workplace is, the more welcome new recruits will feel.

When it comes down to it, accepting diversity into the workplace isn’t enough — you need to actively encourage it. A company without diversity will get stuck in its ways while its more-diverse competitors push ahead. Anyone worried about diversity is really worried about change, and in business, change is something you can’t afford to fear.