Diversity and inclusion (D&I) have become buzzwords in the corporate world, and for good reason. The benefits are undeniable – from driving innovation and business success, to keeping more employees aboard, and keeping them happy. But why is there so much fuss about workplace diversity and inclusion? Let’s dive in to find out.
First Things First: What is the Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion in a work environment are two interconnected yet distinct concepts. Although some use these terms interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between them.
Diversity is all about accepting and celebrating the differences that make us unique – things like our race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability and religion. It’s about recognizing that everyone has something valuable to bring to the table.
Inclusion, on the other hand, involves creating a welcoming environment where everyone feels valued and respected. It means actively working to break down barriers that might be preventing people from fully participating and contributing. Coming up with inclusion initiatives makes sure everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources, fostering a sense of belonging so that everyone feels like they’re an important part of the team.
Why is Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Important?
By anticipating and addressing the diverse needs of their workforce, organizations create an environment that:
Attracts More Candidates, Especially Young Professionals
It is crucial to consider attracting younger talent to an organization, particularly as the global workforce is increasingly composed of Millennials and Gen Z workers. There is growing evidence post-pandemic that diversity and inclusion are becoming more prioritized not only by current employees but also used as a metric for potential recruits, especially young professionals when determining an employer of choice
As per Glassdoor’s survey, 76 percent of participants highlighted the significance of having a diverse workforce while assessing job offers and companies. Additionally, almost one-third of the respondents said they would refrain from applying to a job at an organization where diversity is not present.¹ More than ever, a diverse and inclusive workplace helps organizations expand their talent pool by attracting these young professionals.
Increases Employee Engagement
According to Gallup, there is a correlation between employee participation and inclusivity. In their market research, they found that engaged employees are more inclined to believe that their company values diverse perspectives and conducts business ethically. When staff engagement and diversity in genders are both above the median, it results in a significantly higher financial performance of 46 percent to 58 percent in terms of comparable revenue and net profit compared to those business units that are below the median on both measures.²
Drives Better Financial Performance
According to a study by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.³ When employees feel valued and included, they are more likely to be satisfied with their work, leading to higher productivity and the emergence of new ideas. This can help the business to thrive and differentiate itself from competitors, leading to improved business performance and increased profitability.
Encourages New Perspectives and Innovation
When you have a team with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, you’re more likely to come up with creative solutions to problems. Diversity of thought leads to a more comprehensive analysis of issues and opportunities, which ultimately leads to more innovative solutions.
Increases Employee Retention Rates
A diverse and inclusive workplace helps keep employees motivated to stay and improves their happiness. Employees who feel valued and respected are more likely to stay with a company long-term. This not only saves the company money on recruitment and training costs but also fosters a positive company culture.
Foster Positive Work Relationships and Mutual Respect Among Employees
In an era where remote work strives on the wings of effective relationships and collaboration to prevent employee disconnection, workplace diversity and inclusion help strengthen these work relationships. Employees in this type of environment are bound to recognize the value of diversity in contributing various skills and abilities to the workplace. This recognition increases appreciation and respect for colleagues’ performance, leading to a more harmonious working environment.
Ways to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
It’s easy to read about how great the culture of diversity and inclusion is within the workplace, but the big question is, “how can this be incorporated and continuously improved on?”.
Here are some ways to improve your organization’s D&I culture:
Make Diversity and Inclusion Policies Stronger
It’s important to have support from higher-ups when it comes to including people from all backgrounds and treating everyone fairly. But it’s not enough to just say you’re going to do it – you need to have clear rules and ways of making sure those rules are followed. Companies should always check these rules and make sure they’re being enforced. Only when the underrepresented employees feel safe and like they belong will they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, which is important for the company to succeed.
LesleyE, a commenter on Josh Bersin’s paper explaining “Why Diversity and Inclusion Has Become a Business Priority”, has this to say:
“I coach many highly skilled and motivated women who are frustrated with their employer’s lack of flexible work arrangements and return-to-work programs. Women often take time off to have children or care for elderly relatives. However, many companies still view this as a disruption to a woman’s career. Although companies offer maternity leave and sometimes have a return-to-work policy, if women make up half of the workforce, shouldn’t this be considered normal? We can make progress when companies recognize this fact and create all of their HR policies around it.” ⁴
Review Hiring Practices
Leaders in Human Resources should be aware that some popular recruitment tools, like apps, might not be fair to everyone. They could accidentally have a bias against certain things like race, gender, or how much money someone makes. To make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s a good idea to test and review the tools you use for hiring.
You should also train managers on things like unconscious bias (when you make assumptions about someone based on what group they’re in) and affinity bias (when you tend to like people who are similar to you). Hiring a bunch of people at once for different jobs can also make things fairer. In the same way, the pursuit of non-traditional candidates should be considered. Companies need to ensure that their hiring process doesn’t rely solely on qualifications and experience as the only basis for employment.
Promote Pay Equity
Even though the U.S. Equal Pay Act has been in place for more than 50 years, the gender wage gap remains a significant issue with women earning only 83 cents for every dollar earned by men.⁵ The gap is even wider for Black and Hispanic women. To promote pay parity, it is crucial to conduct comprehensive evaluations of your pay structure and identify any disparities. Once identified, adjustments should be made to bridge the gaps.
Show That You Respect Diverse Cultures
During team calls or meetings, consider asking how individuals plan to celebrate upcoming holidays, if needed. You can also use your company’s intranet to keep employees informed about dates of multicultural celebrations. Always be mindful of these days when scheduling meetings.
Invest in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
ERGs, also called affinity groups, offer a secure place for employees with common interests, backgrounds, and experiences to gather. Employers can promote ERG participation by providing guidelines, creating a unique pay code for tracking meeting attendance or inviting employees to share ERG initiatives and projects.
BUILD AN INCLUSIVE WORKFORCE BY ELIMINATING HIRING BIAS WITH DAVIS COMPANIES
One of the biggest steps you can take is to intensify your workplace DE&I efforts to improve hiring practices to accommodate more employees from different backgrounds and races. At DAVIS Companies, we recognize that every candidate is unique, so we provide you with streamlined hiring processes that avoid all sorts of discrimination.
With us, you can rest assured that you can overcome any barriers that may prevent you from building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in your organization. Contact us now to learn how we can help!
- Glassdoor. “What Job Seekers Really Think About Your Diversity and Inclusion Stats”. https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/diversity/. Published July 12, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2023.
- Gallup. “Using Employee Engagement to Build a Diverse Workforce”. https://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/190103/using-employee-engagement-build-diverse-workforce.aspx. Published March 21, 2016. Accessed March 24, 2023.
- McKinsey. “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters”. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters. Published May 19, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2023.
- JoshBersin.com. “Why Diversity and Inclusion Has Become a Business Priority”. https://joshbersin.com/2015/12/why-diversity-and-inclusion-will-be-a-top-priority-for-2016/#:~:text=Hi%20Josh%2C%20this,to%20come%20back%3F. Published December 7, 2015, updated March 16, 2019. Accessed March 24, 2023.
- CNBC. “Women are still paid 83 cents for every dollar men earn. Here’s why”. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/19/women-are-still-paid-83-cents-for-every-dollar-men-earn-heres-why.html. Published May 19, 2022. Accessed March 24, 2023.