Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
We’re breaking down what diversity and inclusion mean in the workplace, as well as why they’re so important.
You may have heard talk about diversity and inclusion in your place of work. But for some, the words don’t have a lot of meaning. We’re breaking down what diversity and inclusion mean in the workplace, as well as why they’re so important.
What is diversity?
Diversity isn’t a new concept, but it’s making a resurgence in society as people focus on how to ensure that various groups are represented. The term refers to the makeup of an entity, or what percentage of a group comes from a particular background.
When people with similar backgrounds work together, they might have similar ideas about how to accomplish tasks. But when people with drastically different backgrounds come together, their ideas are likely to be quite different from one another.
A diverse group of people typically includes individuals from different genders, nationalities, races, regions, and lifestyles. Your workplace might have a diverse employee population, but without inclusion, the opinions and perspectives of minorities might not be as highly valued. This is why diversity goes hand-in-hand with inclusion.
What is inclusion?
Inclusion means that all members of a group feel included, involved, valued, and respected. The culture of a workplace should allow all members to take part and feel included, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
A lower-level employee might not feel that their supervisor cares about their opinions. A disabled employee might struggle with a workplace that isn’t physically conducive to their needs. An employee from a different racial background could feel like they don’t have the same advancement opportunities as others.
When an organization doesn’t make strides toward diversity and inclusion in the workplace, employees often feel unsupported, unheard, and out of place. This can create a toxic work culture and lead to high turnover rates and low morale.
Advantages of diversity and inclusion in the workplace
When you take a step back and look at a group of people and what they bring to the figurative table, it’s helpful to consider why diversity matters. The perspective of an individual is shaped by their experiences and cultural influences—a definite asset to any organization.
It's also important to think about the needs of employees. According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, nearly three-quarters of women reported that diversity in the workplace was important. That survey also showed that 89% of Black people, 70% of Latino people, and 80% of Asian people cared deeply about workplace diversity.
Diverse workforces can take unique approaches to solving problems and addressing needs because the employees have different takes on situations. Diversity in the workplace can also help individual employees feel more supported and connected to one another. By expanding recruiting efforts to include diverse candidates, you can widen the pool of talent and find the best person for an open position.
If people grew up in similar situations, such as in the same region and attending the same schools, they may not have a different perspective on the world and how it works. By contrast, if two people work together who come from different countries and have experienced drastically different situations in their lives, they can share their experiences and perspectives with one another.
Improved engagement and trust levels
Another advantage of focusing on diversity and inclusion in the workplace is an increase in employee engagement levels. Employees who feel included are more likely to remain engaged in their work.
And in a time when engagement levels are extremely low, employee engagement is more important than ever. Highly engaged employees work harder and support their coworkers, resulting in positive effects on retention, profitability, and overall morale.
Trust is another challenge that many employers face. Only one in five HR and engagement professionals report that their organizations’ employees have deep trust in their leaders. But investing in diversity and inclusion can build trust between employees and the leaders for which they work. Recognizing the unique talents and abilities of each employee can also alleviate this problem, as can rewarding employees for their contributions to the team.
Related: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
With the right approach to diversity and inclusion, an organization can ensure that all of its employees feel supported and valued in their roles. Understanding why these concepts are important in the business world is the first step to creating more positive and supportive workplaces for all.
Related: Employers, Are You Focusing on Employee Well-Being?