Diversity and inclusion: two buzzwords that hold major importance in the workplace and that are non-negotiable aspects of business in the 21st century. Not only is it about showing that you’re accepting of every individual’s differences, but it’s also about encouraging your employees to achieve their fullest potential in a space that they feel safe and comfortable in.
Of course, this inclusive environment stimulates positivity amongst the entire workforce and only ever increases productivity, motivation, plus customer experience.
So, if the continued success of your business is a priority, it’s worth checking your current stance on diversity and inclusivity. While you may be pretty clued-up already, there’s always more that can be done in terms of leveling up.
Now, let’s take a deep-dive into diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace. From its benefits to how it can be measured, this is your one-stop guide to being on top of your game in this not-up-for-debate area…
What is a diversified workplace and why is it valuable?
Workplace diversity is a term used to describe a workforce composed of varying characteristics among employees. Factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, language, skills, abilities, educational backgrounds, physical abilities and disabilities, age, culture, and even political beliefs all fall under this umbrella.
Inclusion means that this diverse workforce feels involved, respected, valued and empowered, and is treated fairly.
When talking about modern companies, its value is unmatched. Why? Because the majority of organizations these days sell their products/services all over the world. So, in order to successfully understand, promote and sell on a global scale and in a global market, businesses require a diversified workforce.
It’s also handy to be viewed as an inclusive workplace from a hiring perspective, too. Individuals who recognize a company as being forward-thinking and unbiased see these organizations as much more attractive to work for, which means that in terms of choosing talent to join your team, you’re more likely to get a higher caliber of applicant.
What are the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Here are a few of the major advantages of opening up inclusivity and diversity…
Improve your overall reputation as a company
When a company values D&I, it makes its employees feel happy, comfortable, and welcome. Which makes the workplace community function fairly and effectively.
Such a positive space also has the capacity to enhance a company’s reputation with its customers, staff, and even investors. Therefore, catapulting a whole range of benefits - i.e., improved business performance, better recruitment opportunities, and growth - to the forefront of your business.
Diverse teams perform better
It’s no secret that when people are treated well in an environment where they feel they belong, they thrive. Rather than feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, and lacking in confidence, they can focus all of their energies on making a difference and performing to their highest capacity.
New perspectives and innovation
According to the Harvard Business Review, the correlation between diversity and innovation outcomes proves that D&I means fresher, newer and cutting-edge ideas. In terms of what characteristics make for the most innovative companies, they found that age, industry, education, gender, migration, and career path were the major players.
This makes sense, when you’ve got a diverse group of people who all have different abilities and have come from different backgrounds, it’s a recipe for unique perspectives and creativity.
Luxury brands Hermes and Giorgio Armani, and German chipmaker Infineon, share a demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion, which has contributed to the ongoing success of each organization.
In fact, there have been many studies (like this one from Catalyst - a global nonprofit that supports women in the workplace) that have linked diverse workplaces to economic growth and overall healthier finances. These include:
- Cash flow ROI
- Earnings before interest and taxes
- Gross and net margins
- Internal rate of return
- Market value
- Investment performance
- Sales performance
- Return on Assets
- Return on Sales
- Return on Equity
Diversity and inclusion in leadership
Diverse and inclusive leaders are known for seeking out fresh and individual perspectives, experiences, and opinions. All while encouraging their employees to share their own ideas.
These types of leaders all tend to share similar traits, including:
They are able to admit their own mistakes, are modest about their own abilities, and create a safe space for people to contribute.
Their commitment to diversity and inclusion is obvious
These leaders articulate their commitment to diversity, hold others accountable when discrimination occurs, challenge the status quo, and generally make D&I a major priority in the workplace.
They are genuinely curious about others
They have an open mindset and are curious about everyone around them. They have the ability to listen without judgment and are highly empathetic people.
They are culturally intelligent
They are sensitive, empathetic, and attentive to other cultures, and adapt to their employees' needs as and when required.
They empower others:
They are always thinking of ways to encourage diversity and inclusion, while always being aware of psychological safety.
Discover our how to lead and manage diverse teams guide for more info.
Examples of diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion can be celebrated in many ways, including:
Celebrating diverse holidays as a team
Get all of your team together to celebrate the different cultural holidays that apply to your employees. Whether this means granting days off or celebrating in the office, it’s vital you acknowledge and respect the celebrations and traditions of all backgrounds.
Ask your employees what holidays are important to them and how you can celebrate as a team, and incorporate these occasions into your calendar.
Creating a buddy scheme
A buddy system is not only an easy way to encourage an inclusive environment, but also to increase confidence and relationships within your company.
A team that has a better understanding of each-other increases the chances of a positive company landscape.
Incorporating diversity into your product/service
If there’s a way you can incorporate the backgrounds and experiences of your employees into your product/service, you’re showing both your team and your customers that you value diversity.
Get feedback from your employees and customers
This is a quick and easy way to see whether there’s work to be done or if you’re on the right track. Put an internal poll out to your team to see if they have any suggestions or advice, plus, send out newsletters to your customers to see if they have any feedback on your current D&I policies.
How do you incorporate diversity and inclusion training in the workplace?
Research has shown that diversity and inclusion in the workplace has a positive effect on a company’s growth and success. This means it’s important to have regular training sessions to set your values as a business and ensure that you are constantly moving with the times.
In terms of tailoring a training scheme to your business, here are a couple of important tips:
Compile all the necessary data
Firstly, you need to be aware of your own workplace/workforce, i.e., your level of equality and diversity based on employee demographics. Having this information helps you identify aspects or trends that need to be addressed.
Put together an outline for your training program
With all of the necessary information about your workforce and things you may need to improve to hand, you can start to develop your tailor-made program. A successful and useful training scheme offers employees practical methods to decrease bias and prejudice in the workplace and instead promote positive, progressive conversations.
Get support from senior management
You need the right support to ensure that your program will run smoothly. The job of senior management is to understand what you’re trying to achieve and implement it across the whole workforce. They have the capacity to further develop and enforce training programs and hold team members accountable. Having senior leaders who actively promote D&I is the first step to achieving an equal workplace.
What kind of training will you implement?
This all depends on your workforce, and what would work best for them. However, there are many training types you can implement, including:
- Group activities/discussion
- Business simulations
- Experiential learning
- Instructor-led training
- Coaching/mentoring, etc.
How do you measure diversity?
Measuring diversity and inclusion in your company is key to identifying and preventing bias. Here are some tried and tested tips and tricks to help you do so:
- Define what diversity and inclusion means to your business
- How diverse is your candidate pool? Are you receiving applications from people from different backgrounds?
- Is your hiring panel diverse? If not, ensure your interviewers are of varying demographics to give candidates a fairer experience
- Ensure the number of applicants hired represents different diversity/inclusion characteristics
Let your business thrive
There you have it - the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and its impact on performance. By ensuring that all aspects of your business cater to D&I, your policies are up to date, and your employees feel represented, you’re in good stead for not only sustaining a happy workforce, but for being viewed as a company that values equality.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organization on its diversity and inclusion journey, contact us today!