Diversity and inclusion (D&I) can be driving factors for innovative results. However, there are still many companies that have issues with the implementation of diversity and inclusion which can cause them to lose potential new diverse talents. Companies that promote diversity and inclusion are often viewed as more attractive and it can be rewarding for them in many ways.
In this article, you’ll find out what is diversity and inclusion, how they differ, and a couple of facts regarding these two factors. You’ll also learn about the benefits that come with them and of course, you’ll get a list of practices that you can use for the implementation in your company.
But what are these inclusion and diversity exactly? Are they the same thing or are there any major differences between them?
Simply said diversity means being comprised of different elements. Even though there are infinite differences in humans that make us unique from other individuals, the most common divisions include social categories such as age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc.
Inclusion can be explained as the process of enabling everyone to have equal access and opportunities to existing resources. Inclusion in a workplace setting works on eliminating barriers to traditionally marginalized groups, so they feel treated equally in the workplace.
Society for Human Resource Management (SRHM) defines inclusion in a workplace as:
“The achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”
Diversity vs. Inclusion
It’s important to note that even though these two terms are often linked together, they are not interchangeable.
According to Rita Mitjans, ADP’s Chief Diversity and Social Responsibility Officer, diversity is the “what” and inclusion is the “how” in your workplace. Diversity focuses on the demographics of your workplace (gender, race, age, professional background, sexual orientation, etc.), while inclusion emphasizes efforts toward helping employees to make them feel safe, happy, and trusted.
Let’s talk about the numbers
We should put into perspective how important these D&I are when it comes to a company’s success. Here are just a couple of facts regarding the implementation or a lack of implementation of D&I.
Compared to every 100 men promoted to a managerial position, only 79% of women are promoted.
Research studies conducted in New Zealand, Canada and by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that people with minority names receive fewer opportunities for jobs.
Of people who post personal religiously affiliated content on social media, Muslims are 13% less likely to receive a callback for an interview.
Only 17.9% of people with a disability were employed in 2016 compared to 65.% of people without a disability.
Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture a new market audience, so this can help them to stay ahead of their competitors.
According to a Glassdoor study, 57% of employees and 67% of job seekers consider diversity an important element of their workplace, so it has a direct impact on recruitment and retention.
Benefits of diversity and inclusion
High levels of diversity and inclusion in the workplace are associated with greater productivity, innovation, and workforce well-being, yet not enough is done to promote them, especially among minority groups, meaning that enterprises, workers, and societies are missing out on considerable potential benefits. But there are even more benefits that come with the implementation of D&I.
Wider recruitment of talents
Implementing processes of diversity and inclusion will open your doors to a lot of new opportunities. One of them is a bigger amount of potential new talents. Once you decide to recruit people from a wider circle, there’s a bigger chance that you will recruit someone who will be an above-average performing employee because you give yourself access to a wider range of people.
It can be also beneficial to hire someone from a different background because they may have a totally different point of view that can help you gain a new perspective of looking at things.
Increased employee engagement and trust
When employees feel more included, they tend to be more engaged and that has a positive impact on team morale, performance, profitability, and retention. Besides this feeling of being trusted, valued, respected, and heard contributes to a safe environment. Being surrounded by such an environment gains our trust and also they’re more likely to engage with others and perform better with our tasks. It feels great to know that they can rely on the people we’re working with and it gives them a sense of belonging since they feel safe and valued where they’re working. When these factors come into place they’re more committed to the environment and try more to deliver better results.
I’m sure you’d prefer working with employees that are satisfied with who they have as a leader and know that their work environment is safe because they’re respected and receive support and appreciation.
More space for innovation
Imagine a team of people where everyone looks, thinks, and acts the same. Chances are that also their products and ideas will be pretty similar. Now imagine a second scenario where there’s a team comprised of a team of diverse people (different ages, ethnicity, gender, race, culture, religion, country of origin). Their thinking processes will probably differ a lot they can benefit from it. Since they are used to working with a diverse team of people, they are more open to new and unexplored ideas. This means that they’re more likely to take a risk and experiment which can lead them to completely new findings.
These are the type of people you want to work with and collaborate on different projects to reach a common goal. When you open yourself to diversity and make these people feel included and valued, you’ll be able to achieve way more than before.
Being more committed, engaged, and proactive will improve the quality of your employees’ work and therefore their performance will get better. All of this is only due to feeling satisfied with the environment they’re part of.
Another factor that contributes to this is their motivation and drive to do their job the best they can due to believing in what they’re doing.
According to the statistics, companies with significantly more racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to outperform competitors. Harvard Business Review also discovered that diverse companies are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets, which, in return, grants higher performance.
Improved employee retention
Companies that promote diversity and inclusion and are serious about their implementation tend to have better employee retention. In fact, the employee retention rate is 5.4 times higher than in those companies where diversity and inclusion are not prioritized. This is due to having employees that feel included, valued and feel safe, and supported in the environment they’re working in.
Advertising inclusion and diversity can have another positive effect on the company. The companies that tend to involve diversity and inclusion see a boost in company identity through positively viewed branding.
Better business results and increased profits
Lastly, when we combine all of the above-mentioned benefits together, your company will achieve better results because you’re working with a motivated team of people who are highly engaged, have better performance, and therefore can produce better results.
This being said, diversity and inclusion are obviously beneficial to employees’ mental health but they also have downstream impacts that are good for business. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that more diverse companies report 19 percent higher revenue.
Implementation of diversity and inclusion
The process of implementation of D&I as a part of a business strategy can be viewed as removing all barriers of discrimination and intolerance that may come from such differences. They may be also pulling from the pool of diverse experiences, knowledge bases, and personalities that drive both individual success and business growth. However, it’s important to mention that diversity doesn’t automatically mean inclusion. So you can learn now how you can combine the two and successfully implement them in your company as well.
“Diversity and inclusion are two interconnected concepts—but they are far from interchangeable. Diversity is about the representation or the make-up of an entity. Inclusion is about how well the contributions, presence, and perspectives of different groups of people are valued and integrated into an environment.”
— Matt Bush, Culture Coaching Lead at Great Place to Work
Everyone feels involved
Before any other process gets done, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone feels involved in the work environment, like they’re part of the group where they’re working. It’s important to note that everyone is different and there’s no one size fits all solution. Also, this process will take absolute precision, but the results and their impact will be worth it.
Maybe you’ve heard it before - leaders should lead by example or that it starts with you. In this case, these two statements are certainly true. It’s important to show that you’re capable of empathy and that you understand what minority groups experience. Try to remember moments when you felt mistreated, excluded, or interrupted and put the practice toward others.
Another thing you should put into practice is active listening. Often it’s more important to be able to listen rather than to speak.
The next thing that can help is to be aware of how various leadership style plays different role in different leadership styles. For example, a transactional leadership style can create an unbiased workplace. This leadership style focuses on fixed operating ways and outcomes. This type of leadership leader can inspire and support employees to re-evaluate their judgments and prejudices towards coworkers.
Not just for the numbers
When introducing any new implementation or a change, it’s important to believe in what you’re doing and be honest with others. Don’t include diversity and inclusion in your company’s policies just for the sake of it or just because it’s trendy nowadays. It’s crucial to be genuine and not to start with this whole process just to boost the diversity numbers in your statistics report.
You need to take this whole process seriously and look at every place that can be improved and reshaped according to the guidelines of diversity and inclusion. The processes reach all the places from hiring processes to goal setting, onboarding, day-to-day work life, team building, workplace culture, etc.
Besides, it is vital to check with yourself if you have created a place where everyone feels included, respected, safe, valued, and satisfied, and look for loops.
It is an ongoing process
Making D&I a part of your business strategy does not consist of just one process or action. It’s an ongoing process that even after longer planning, brainstorming, and execution, requires updates and regular checkups. It’s important to constantly update it to the needs of your employees and once you reach a steady result, don’t forget to document it and spread awareness to others in other to create a pipeline.
One size doesn’t fit all
It’s better to go with the flow than against it. What I mean is that it’s necessary to accept that everyone is different and that’s okay. Try not to fit everyone into a mold, because truth, everyone is different, and forcing them somewhere will not get you far. It’s better to accept differences and take advantage of them. Focus rather on the different strengths of your employees, on their uniqueness, and how their differences can actually bring them closer together. As a result, this will create a culture where everyone can fit with their full potential.
Making the workplace an inclusive place
The process of making your workplace a more inclusive place can begin by doing a reality check and being aware what’s the state of the environment you’re working in. You can ask yourself questions such as:
How big percentage of executives in managemental positions consist of minority groups?
How many men and women are in these positions? Is there a huge gap?
Does the workplace really have a model diversity behavior or is it just to fulfill the bare minimum to qualify for this title?
Recognition and a reward system
A way how to make your employees feel included and make them feel like they belong is to appreciate them for their efforts and hard work. It can be both small and big gestures but the aim is to celebrate their strengths and uniqueness. Also, public recognition can be powerful such as praising their work in front of others.
There are many more ways how you can foster diversity and inclusion in your company. Among these ways belong being open to a multilingual workforce, building a multigenerational workforce, fostering diverse thinking, working on anti-discriminatory policies, eliminating bias, being open for feedback, and having an open dialogue about gender pay equality.
The implementation of diversity and inclusion can create a lot of benefits and lead to your company’s success - better performance of your employees, feelings of trust and respect, higher retention rate, and stronger relationships, just to name a few. Now it’s up to you if you include these D&I in your business strategy as well and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.