3 min read
Diversity is more than just a buzzword, and establishing a diverse and inclusive working environment is about far more than corporate social responsibility and your reputation as a business. In fact, studies have shown that businesses that embrace workplace diversity and inclusion are better equipped for growth and success.
What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Diversity in the workplace refers not only to race and ethnicity, but also gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, nationality, disability, education, and religion. It’s all about hiring a workforce with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
Of course, having a diverse staff is one side of the equation, but successful D&I also means creating an environment where differences are valued and every member of the team feels welcomed and equal regardless of their identity – this is what we mean by “inclusion.”
Your aim shouldn’t be simply to have a diverse team; it isn’t just about filling a ratio. Instead, you should ensure every member of your diverse team feels included and is given the same tools and opportunities to succeed in a comfortable, accepting environment.
The importance of diversity in the workplace
There are many benefits of diversity in the workplace. For one, studies show that companies with diverse leadership perform better.
A 2017 McKinsey Report found that companies whose leadership teams rank in the top 25% in terms of racial and ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to have higher profits than their non-diverse competitors. Businesses that champion workplace diversity and inclusion are more likely to exceed financial targets.
A diverse workplace encourages greater industry innovation. By simply valuing more diverse perspectives and experiences, you’re inviting a wider array of ideas and outlooks that can foster new opportunities in your market. Through workplace diversity, you can discover untapped potential that would otherwise be missed.
A 2020 survey from Glassdoor showed that 76% of job seekers consider workplace diversity a hugely important factor when applying for new positions. Diversity plays a significant role in establishing a positive company culture, which in turn is crucial for employee retention.
Not only will a more inclusive environment encourage better overall performance, it will also have a positive impact on the individual performance of your employees. Morale will be higher, and your employees will feel more comfortable and trusting when their perspective is included and valued.
How to improve workplace diversity and inclusion
There are a few simple steps you should take when aiming to improve diversity and inclusion in your business.
Understand your environment
The first thing you need to do is evaluate the current diversity and inclusivity of your business. Compare your company to competitors in your industry and identify areas for improvement. Look at the policies you already have in place that encourage better D&I and understand what’s working and what isn’t.
It’s vital that you open the conversation to your wider team and try to gain different perspectives on the current culture of the workplace and what needs to be improved.
Define your goals
Next, establish an idea of what you hope to achieve in terms of diversity and inclusion. Set clear goals, and always be sure of what actions you can and will take to reach these goals. You might look at hiring a consultant to guide your D&I strategy. Perhaps you’ll host workshops to gain insight from your team. Many companies establish support groups for different communities within an organization to encourage further inclusion.
Inclusion is as much about the way you work as it is the people working. Think about factors like office accessibility, maternity leave, pay gaps, and any policy or practice that might be detrimental towards the diversity and inclusion of your workplace.
Think beyond your team
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace isn’t just about your employees, it’s about the partners you work with, your customers, and the services you use. You might consider realigning your procurement strategy to use products and services from minority-owned businesses. Perhaps there are more diverse customer opportunities in your market that you’ve overlooked in the past.
For example, if you sell a product, maybe you’ve missed opportunities by not marketing towards women or black communities, simply because you were lacking those perspectives in the workplace. Think about your strategies, processes, and mission and ensure they reflect the diversity and inclusivity you’re striving for.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to creating a healthy, productive work environment. If you want every member of the team to strive and reach their fullest potential, you need to understand their way of working and try to facilitate these needs as best as you can, without undermining your overall goals and values.
When it comes to diversity in the workplace, different social or cultural backgrounds impact attitudes and expectations in the workplace, and it’s important that you do your best to understand these differences. Inclusivity is not about assimilation – it’s about giving everyone equal grounds to thrive comfortably.
Differences in perspective and experience are not to be ignored, but rather celebrated. The only way to create an environment that truly celebrates difference is to engage with your team openly and with empathy and discuss together what the ideal workplace looks like.
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