Diversity and inclusion, also known as D&I, are becoming popular in the corporate world. Nowadays, many companies are trying to incorporate D&I policies across all levels.
Diverse organizations can generate 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee while team performance is improved by 30%. Compared to less diverse counterparts, companies with diverse teams will increase revenue by 19%.
Before we start looking at specific benefits of diversity and inclusions, let’s see how this concept can contribute to your business and try to explain its role in companies.
What Do Inclusion and Diversity Mean?
D&I workplace makes each team member, regardless of their position or job, feel equally involved in and supported in all workplace areas. To further define these two terms, diversity refers to religion, sexual orientation, culture, race, political belief, and gender identity.
Within an organizational structure, diversity means that your team is composed of individuals who bring new backgrounds and perspectives to the table. On the other hand, inclusion ensures everyone feels equally involved, treated fairly, respected, valued, and embedded into the culture.
Both of these aspects are important, and diversity that lacks inclusion results in a toxic culture, while inclusion without diversity can make an organization uncreative and stagnant.
Differences Between Diversity and Inclusion
While being two interconnected concepts, D&I are far from interchangeable. Diversity is more about representation, while inclusion is how well the perspectives, presence, and contributions of different groups of people are valued and integrated into a business culture.
An environment with many different identities, nationalities, sexual orientations, races, and genders but only values certain groups may be diverse but not inclusive. For instance, you may hire a woman of color or African American to create an ethnically diverse team. Still, you need to consider her opinion, experience, and perspectives to embrace inclusion fully while making policies and decisions.
Why Is Diversity Important in the Workplace?
Implementing diversity in a workplace leads to higher revenue, teams are more innovative, companies can recruit a diverse talent pool, while employee retention becomes 5.4 times higher.
When employees believe that they and their colleagues are treated fairly, regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender, and race, they are: more likely to look forward to going to work, have pride in their work, and stay a long time at their company.
A diverse workplace increases productivity, creativity, cultural awareness, positive reputation, and marketing opportunities.
Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion
If an organization has a wide range of leaders and employees from different backgrounds, their business will benefit from a broader range of opinions, experiences, and perspectives. All these features become crucial, especially if you navigate a tricky business full of challenges.
You want to make sure your company eliminates groupthink while allowing people with different viewpoints to express themselves. Additionally, diversity and inclusion in the workplace highly affect recruitment. Suppose you eliminate discrimination and bias when hiring teams and team leaders. In that case, you will ensure that bright candidates won’t get turned down because of their skin color, gender, or other attributes.
Driving Innovation and Creativity Within a Team
Diverse people come from various backgrounds and life experiences, enabling them to deliver fresh ideas and creative solutions to the company’s problems. Businesses that support diversity and innovation in a workplace are 1.7 times more likely to lead in innovation in their niche markets. New ideas will generate innovative solutions and will address the issues at hand.
Impact on Team Collaboration and Productivity
We already mentioned that D&I increases the company’s profit, directly resulting from increased performance, team collaboration, and productivity. Companies with significantly more ethnic and racial diversity are 35% more likely to outperform their counterparts. Also, diverse companies have more chances to capture new markets, which in return means higher performance.
This benefit is pretty obvious. The more valued and included team members feel, the higher their engagement will be in the company. When employees feel like their voice matters, they are more interested in the company’s activities and culture.
Having plenty of different voices on your team and making them feel valued will ensure you have a blend of perspectives in the decision-making process. Different team members encourage different opinions, resulting in better decision-making for your company.
Improved Overall Reputation
Diverse and inclusive companies make sure their employees are happy and welcome. Overall, they help society function more fairly and effectively. This approach can boost your company’s reputation with staff, investors, and customers and bring plenty of benefits such as growth, improved business performance, and recruitment opportunities.
How To Implement Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace - Tips, and Strategies
While some companies have gone through diversity training, that doesn’t mean they are inclusive. Diversity is crucial, and you need to create a culture where people from different backgrounds feel included.
Train Your Executive Team
How you form your executive team tells a lot about your inclusion practices and diversity. For example, you should consider your top management team and how diverse they are. Do they stand for gender and ethnic diversity? Are men and women equal?
According to the research, only 24 CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women. Training your executive team and offering the right inclusion and diversity certification programs is important.
Region and Culture
Your company should have policies that honor different religious and cultural practices. If you don’t have an inclusive culture, you can’t expect to have high engagement and productivity from employees.
Make Employees Feel Welcome
Many people quit their jobs because they can express themselves. If a workplace doesn’t appreciate how unique a person is, they will go elsewhere.
Other tips include:
- Addressing pay inequality
- Creating multilingual teams
- Encouraging diverse thinking
- Eradicating bias
- Introducing focus groups
- Promoting individual discussions
- Using words carefully
The Role of Leadership in Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
In a diverse and inclusive workplace, the role of a leader is crucial, and it helps organizations adapt to diverse talents, ideas, markets, and customers. Inclusive leaders are intellectually curious and demand feedback from their employees while making sure their team knows their contribution is recognized.
Team leaders who are closely affiliated with managers or people with organizational influence can leverage their position to increase a workplace culture of belonging.
Challenges and Barriers to Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
When it comes to challenges to D&I, there are a couple of them each company should address:
- Communication issues: language barriers, different communications styles, and preferences
- Cultural misunderstanding: people from different cultures working together
- Slower decision-making: different ideas, opinions, and perspectives are good for innovation but can slow down decision-making
- Discrimination: it’s possible to see more harassment, discrimination, and biases as you diversify your team
Examples of Inclusion in the Workplace and Best Practices
Creating a sense of belonging is one of the best ways to make your employees comfortable and help them express their true selves at work. Team members can become more creative and build strong connections with the company. You can encourage your team to practice open communication by using inclusive language that promotes and respects all team members.