This post was originally published on Feb. 22, 2019, and updated on Feb. 11, 2021.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace can lead to business gains, including better employee retention, more innovation, and higher revenue growth, according to Great Place to Work.
In this piece, we'll talk about the benefits of greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and discuss how you can make strides towards both — while avoiding some common challenges along the way.
Going on this journey may not be easy for your organization, but it’s worth it and, more importantly, it’s the right thing to do.
How are you doing today with diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Let’s begin by talking about what it means to have diversity and inclusion in the workplace. There are two central aspects to consider:
- Diversity — This means your team has a range of genders, sexualities, races, religions, ages, and myriad other personal characteristics.
- Inclusion — Inclusion means those team members have meaningful work, receive thoughtful consideration, and participate in team decision-making.
"Diversity is being invited to the party: inclusion is being asked to dance." ~ Vernā Myers
The overarching goal is to maintain perspective on both of these dimensions in your recruiting, hiring and promotion practices. Both matter.
Why are diversity and inclusion in the workplace important?
A workplace environment that is inclusive and diverse is more likely to result in all the traditional benefits of a standout team for a number of reasons, including:
- Higher productivity.
- More rewarding interpersonal relationships.
- Improvements in work quality.
Of course, building a productive team can also lead to increased profits, partly for the reasons listed above.
Your culture is a significant driver of the makeup of your team.
If built correctly, your team will have a more nuanced view of your customer base and its issues, since a diverse and inclusive team has a wider set of life experiences than a monocultural one. This gives you a built-in advantage. In other words, no matter what products or services you offer, there will be more thoughtful points of view in-house to guide your approach.
Cultivate greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Once you’ve decided that you need to improve your diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the hard work begins. In reading this, you may have already recognized one or more key issues you’ll need to address.
When it comes to finding solutions, you’ll need to consider two fronts: how you can help your current team, and how you can enhance its future makeup?
It may make sense to focus on your existing team first, and work your way out.
To do that, take a clear-eyed look at your team, and consider what changes you could make to better align with the traits of your team members.
For example, some team members may be more productive with a flexible time arrangement. In fact, in some of these cases, working from home may even be an option. And as the pandemic continues to change the way we work, working from home and flex-time is more important than ever.
When it comes to recruitment, it pays to think outside the box. If you’re looking to boost diversity and inclusion in the workplace, ensure that the structure of your recruiting practices are inclusive. For example, building professional relationships with underrepresented groups, universities and historically-aligned collectives can be a worthwhile investment.
Regardless of what your plan ultimately looks like, it’s vital to touch base with your team regularly.
You’ll want to determine if you’re hitting the mark with your strategy and whether you can make further improvements. The best people to provide those answers will be sitting at the desks around you, so getting them onboard and active in the process is one of the best steps you can take.
Closing thoughts on diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace have come to the forefront, as many businesses are beginning to realize the benefits of creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive team.
From a practical standpoint, remember that diversity can improve your business outcomes.
By providing benefits and initiatives to your team based on their personal characteristics and beliefs, you stand to benefit. In a nutshell, studies show a diverse and inclusive team is a productive one — and the creative benefit of a well-rounded team can lead to greater revenue and an enhanced reputation.