The Practical Guide on How to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continue to be an upward trend of popularity and importance. More and more companies are realizing that prioritizing diversity in the workplace is a necessary step to success.
DEI tackles long-standing issues regarding fairness and equity in the workplace, but it also broadens a company’s talent pool, sharply improves decision-making and the company’s image, plus driving employee engagement.
💡 In fact, McKinsey research shows that large companies who scored in the top 25% for ethnic and cultural diversity and inclusion outperformed those who scored in the bottom 25% by 36%.
However, progress isn’t as fast as it should be. Many companies haven’t placed the importance on DEI that they should, and many times this is due to a lack of understanding.
At its core, DEI in the workplace is about giving everyone the same chances, regardless of all their differences. It isn’t just the right thing to do, it also brings with it many pleasant and powerful side effects.
In this blog, we’re going to be looking at diversity in the workplace, why it’s so good for companies, and how to achieve it.
What is DEI in the workplace?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are often used interchangeably, but the reality is that they are each their own unique and distinct concepts. Together, they help elevate a workplace by celebrating differences, offering equal opportunity, and creating a work environment where everyone can belong.
So, let’s understand how these areas differ:
Diversity: Everyone is different. There are so many factors that play into who we are. Whether it’s race, culture, sexuality, lifestyle, age, or some other factor, these all impact our lived experiences. A truly diverse workplace celebrates what makes everyone different. Having a variety of people!!
Equity: Equity is about putting processes in place to level the playing field. It considers things like race, gender, disability, or other characteristics and removes systemic barriers so everyone has equal access to opportunity.
Inclusion: We all want to feel like we belong – the same goes for at work. Inclusive workplaces create environments where everyone feels like they are a valued and respected part of the team. Inclusion focuses on building a workplace where everyone feels welcome.
As you can see, each DE&I element is important, and they are all deeply interconnected. And let’s face it, diversity can exist without inclusion, but not necessarily in the other way around. For example, businesses are diverse when they hire several people with different characteristics, but they aren’t inclusive unless those people are treated fairly, feel included, accepted, and safe.
This means that to bring DE&I to your organization, the three must be integrated into every aspect of the workplace.
8 Types of Diversity in the Workplace
We’ve touched briefly that diversity means variety in people’s characteristics. And there are different types of characteristics when it comes to diversity.
Let’s dig on these types:
- Gender identity
Sex and gender refer to different things. Sex is usually categorized as either male or female, depending on certain physical attributes. Gender, is how a person identifies.
Unlike sex, gender is not binary. It's a spectrum that features male and female at either end of it. A person may identify as being at some point within this spectrum or reject it entirely.
Gender identity is an important and increasingly controversial topic. It’s an intensely personal characteristic because it impacts how people are treated, think, act, dress, speak, and interact with the world.
Here is important to respect the gender every person identify with, a gender is like a name, if your coworker wants to be called Bobby, you respect that. No questions or weird looks are allowed!
1. Race and ethnicity
Race and ethnicity are both important terms that people use to describe and understand their ancestry, heritage, and history.
Examples of races would be Caucasian, African, and Asian. Examples of ethnicities are Irish, Kenyan, and Chinese.
Ethnicity is often seen as a more positive identifying factor when asking someone where they’re from or what they identify as. It’s not only more informative, but it’s also a way to stray from negative experiences of racism.
It’s important to note that both race and ethnicity are social constructs. They are important for some people’s sense of identity, as they can shape practices, beliefs, and ways of thinking and acting, but they are by no means biological evidence of superiority or inferiority in any way, shape, or form.
Cultural diversity is related to people’s ethnicity, and refers to the set of ideas and practices that a person is raised with and gets from the society they grew up in. Culture varies between countries, social classes, religions, and ethnicities, and is often informed by all of these variables. From Diwali, and Midsummer traditions, to the Chinese New Year, is important that these are respected and embraced.
Diverse workplaces must make it a point to avoid age-related discrimination. Different ages and age groups have different life experiences based on what stage of life they’re at as well as what world events they’ve experienced.
For example, millennials might be vastly different from boomers, and GenZers could be different from GenXers. Plus the time in life they are in is different, some of them might be having new families, or are near retirement, whatever the age is, there should be always respect for every person.
Religion is a particular system of faith and worship. There are many different religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. People can be a part of religions and have varying degrees of religiousness, and others are not religious but spiritual. Some people don’t believe in any higher powers and aren’t spiritual at all, and is good to respect all that.
Whichever the case, religion and spirituality both affect people’s culture as well as attitudes and views. It's important that they are respected without being allowed to be weaponized or used to cross boundaries. If there is something you don’t know about certain religion of your colleague, ask about it or look for it.
5. Sexual orientation
A person’s sexual orientation is who they are attracted to. For example, a person might be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, demisexual, or pansexual. For some people, sexual orientation isn’t a fixed characteristic. Others are still in the closet, which is why having a workplace that promotes diversity and respects this, would make employees have a safe space where they can express themselves and thrive results.
6. Political leanings
Political beliefs refer to a person’s set of ethical ideals, doctrines, and principles. As with all characteristics, political leanings exist on a spectrum. Even supporters of the same political party may not agree on everything. However, believing in whichever party or political cluster, is important that whenever sharing opinions related to it, people respect other points of view.
7. Physical and mental abilities and disabilities
Disabilities are not always visible. They are also not always straightforward. Not everyone who uses a wheelchair is wheelchair-bound, and not everyone who uses a white cane is 100% blind. Not being able to walk is a disability, but so are autism and ADHD. There are many disabilities and they are not created equal.
It’s important that there is awareness in the workspace about physical and mental disabilities so that able-bodied and neurotypical people can interact with their disabled coworkers respectfully and helpfully.
Now with a deeper understanding of these different ways in which people can be diverse, it’s easier to see how misunderstandings and conflicts can arise because of them and why it’s important to put systems and practices in place to protect employees from workplace discrimination.
Why DEI is important in the workplace?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to company culture because they foster creativity, fresh perspectives, and understanding. By implementing DE&I, people of different races, abilities, ages, genders, religion, sexual orientations, and other diverse backgrounds can be more comfortable in the workplace. Especially for marginalized and minority people, or people who have been treated unfairly throughout their life, this is a deal breaker.
Plus, it can lead to new ways of solving problems, developing products and services, and understanding the world around us. Inclusion also helps ensure everyone feels valued and respected, making people more engaged and productive.
On top of that, by promoting DE&I, companies can build a stronger, more vibrant workplace culture and many other powerful benefits for the business.
The benefits of DEI in the workplace
Diversity is the path to an improved employee experience and multiple ways to be more successful and profitable. These are some of the specific benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Increased employee engagement
There are many ways that DEI impacts employee engagement in organizations. Employees are more likely to vocalize their opinions and valuable input if they believe that others will listen to and respect what they have to say.
Additionally, an inclusive workplace reduces employee conflicts. This forges stronger bonds between employees and allows them to work with each other more effectively.
A diverse and inclusive workplace allows and encourages employees to engage actively.
Better productivity and performance
The increased confidence that comes with being accepted, respected, and celebrated means that employees are far more likely to forge real relationships with their colleagues and leaders, which allows them to take pride in their work and workplace and look forward to doing what they are there to do. This ultimately improves a business’ overall performance and bottom line.
Top-notch skills and knowledge
Recruiting employees that come from a wide range of backgrounds means that they will all have different skills, experiences, and knowledge. Older employees may have more experience, while younger employees are more creative and offer new ways of thinking. Employees from different cultures will also have different ways of approaching problems.
This gives a business a vast range of perspectives to benefit from. This increase in skills and knowledge makes tackling problems a lot easier and quicker.
Improvements in creativity and innovation
Creative businesses stand out. Employing a diverse group of people means that there is a wider pool of unique ideas that can give a business the edge over their competition.
Increased creativity and innovation are better for problem-solving, coming up with new products and services, marketing, and more.
A diverse workforce comes from a diverse candidate pool. This means that a business that actively seeks DEI has a much larger talent pool than a business that doesn’t. Recruiting can be expensive and time-consuming, so enlarging the company’s network can increase recruitment efficiency and efficacy.
Better understanding of customers
Businesses with a diverse customer base need a diverse team to connect with, gain insight on, and help most effectively. This is especially important for every kind of company, after all, customers are the ones that pay the bills, and knowing more about them, makes easier to work for them and improve service/product.
Faster problem solving
Cognitive diversity is a powerful problem-solving tool. A diverse team offers each other varying perspectives and viewpoints. This helps them to come up with solutions quicker and more easily than a team that shares similar backgrounds.
Reduced employee turnover
Diverse workplaces have reduced employee turnover rates as employees feel supported and valued in their workplace. They are happier, more engaged, and more invested in their companies, therefore becoming more loyal and attached.
Improved efficiency, productivity, employee turnover rate … diversity and its benefits look good for a company. What’s more is that a diverse workforce attracts applicants to a business and gives them a competitive edge over their rivals.
Do you want more facts and proof?
Studies show DEI has the potential to increase sales revenue, increase customer base, and ultimately increase profits. In fact, companies that fail to take proactive steps to prioritize DEI may find themselves critically behind their competition, unable to attract and retain quality workers and struggling to meet business goals.
How to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the right way to go – but how can a business begin to make systemic changes to incorporate DEI into its business model? Here are some excellent ways to achieve this.
Recruit and promote from a diverse talent pool with a diverse hiring panel
All business goals begin with hiring the right people. A diverse slate of candidates is essential, but a truly inclusive workplace also has a diverse hiring panel that can ensure a fair and objective hiring process.
A business’ hiring panel is the perfect place to start focusing on DEI. By creating a diverse hiring panel, a business can really see begin to see the benefits of having a diverse team. A great way to do this is to employ a hiring panel that reflects the people that can be found in the business’ geographical location, whether that’s in terms of age, class, ethnicity, gender, and/or religion.
Identify DEI as a strategic priority
Workplaces must make DEI a key organizational strategy. This way, clear goals, performance measures, metrics, and KPIs can be reviewed, discussed, and observed.
- How much DEI training is given (2 sessions per quarter?)
- How many new hires are made to purposefully include more diversity
- Achieving and maintaining base equity pay for employees in similar roles or markets, regardless of differences in personal characteristics
- Increasing representation of underrepresented groups
Consistently train and engage employees on DEI
Many workplaces have diversity and bias training, but they can fall flat. Training mustn't be presented as a passive lesson, but rather as an interactive and ongoing part of a wider, organizational conversation. It’s great to have seminars, but it’s just as important to have individual chats between colleagues, have managers communicate goals to their teams, and encourage conversations about DEI issues and what the company thinks of them.
It’s also necessary to keep in mind that employees should be treated as they want to be treated, not how others think they should be treated.
DEI training can also include things like taking part in other’s cultural traditions and religious celebrations.
Scrutinize leader representation and hold them accountable
A business’ board and executive team should mirror the diversity of its physical location or client base. There should, however, already be a culture of belonging in place so that these leaders aren’t set up for failure. There isn’t any point in hiring a board of minorities if the rest of the workplace is racist, insensitive, or not embracing diversity.
Additionally, once the DEI strategy is in place, these leaders must be held accountable for both good and bad results.
Use the right technology
Companies can leverage the right technology to help them achieve their goals. For example, using app, software or tools that drive diversity and inclusion.
For example, by empowering your team with tools to give each other the recognition that they deserve, you can build a strong foundation for appreciation and inclusion. Evergreen, an employee recognition software, makes it easy for employees to show each other how much they matter while also helping the world by planting a tree, you can use this tool to embrace diversity and recognize the good job of all the employees.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the future
There are no two ways about it. ,
Intrinsic, systemic diversity and inclusion are difficult to achieve, and they take a lot of time and effort. The results, however, are powerful and well worth it.
Start today improving your DEI
Use Dara, the AI-powered Slack bot that promotes respectful and unbiased communication in the workspace, through inclusive language.
How this improves DEI?
When using non-inclusive language Dara will suggest edits privately to the writer, and monitor words used so you as admin can check how inclusive the company’s language is, plus take some actions.