A Detailed Guide To Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace

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Diversity and inclusion are rapidly gaining traction with employers and organizations worldwide. With companies expanding globally and becoming more employee centric, it is essential to incorporate values like inclusion and diversity in the workplace. 

Diversity and Inclusion - What are They?

Diversity and inclusion are two fundamental aspects of an organization. A diverse and inclusive workplace ensures that every employee feels comfortable at the workplace, irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, religion, or gender. All the employees who are a part of the organization should feel involved in everything in the workplace and get the necessary support.

Awareness of Diversity and inclusion in the workplace make an organization a safe space for its employees. They ensure that no one is treated differently. In simple terms, diversity and inclusion refer to a blend of different mindsets, varied notions, or beliefs. They come together to give people a common platform to express their opinions. 

Workplaces that incorporate inclusion and diversity are much safer, more productive, and happier than those that do not adopt these policies.

What is Diversity?

Diversity in a work environment refers to recruiting people from all backgrounds and building a diverse workforce. It aims to represent different communities in the workplace.

Diversity accepts every element that makes a person different from another. Generally, diversity is defined by a few popular categories, like religion, gender, race, age, culture, etc.

There are undoubtedly more visible and unseen factors that distinguish people, but these broad categories might assist businesses in identifying diversity gaps. They also provide measurable criteria that firms may use to create goals and actively increase workplace diversity.

Exploring Different Diversity Types

Diversity in a workplace can exist in numerous forms. Thus, you must understand these broad categories to formulate a comprehensive policy for your company to include people from diverse backgrounds.

Cultural diversity

Cultural diversity in the workplace is based on a person's ethnicity. It is defined by the social conventions and cultural codes we pick up from our upbringing or our family's values and the society where we grow up. Multinational corporations generally hire employees from different cultures across the globe.

Race diversity

Despite the prevalent scientific notion that race is a social construct rather than biologically established, race has much to do with a person's classification based on physical features. Caucasian, African, Latino, and Asian races are examples of races.

Religious diversity

A workplace often includes people from different religious faiths, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. They have different spiritual beliefs based on religious scriptures or may follow a religious/spiritual leader.

Age diversity

Working with people of various ages and, more crucially, generations forms the base for age diversity. For example, millennials, GenZers, and GenXers can all work together in the same organization.

Sex/Sexual orientation

Earlier, the term sex or gender was limited to distinguishing male and female employees. However, with gender becoming more fluid now, companies should tread thoughtfully. Companies may use the term "gender balance” to attain a 50-50 balance between personnel identifying as male and employees identifying as female. However, since there are various gender and sexual orientation variances, "gender diversity" is more appropriate now. 

Disability

Disability includes people who have some physical issues or suffer from any chronic or mental illness. Many companies have special policies for differently-abled employees. Today, global organizations are including disabled differently-abled employees in their workforce in capacities where they can shine.

What is Inclusivity?

While we may use the terms diversity and inclusivity interchangeably, they are innately different. 

Inclusivity focuses on treating all employees fairly and respectfully, irrespective of their backgrounds or differences. Companies can make an inclusive workplace by providing equal access to different resources and opportunities to all employees. This, in turn, encourages them to perform better and stay loyal to the organization.

Understanding and respect are the building blocks of workplace inclusion. To create a more inclusive work atmosphere within the organization where everyone feels valued, employers must listen to everyone's ideas and opinions and then weigh them impartially. 

Diversity and Inclusion: Why are They Important for the Modern Workplace?

Several reasons make diversity and inclusion important for an organization. When a workplace is inclusive, employees can function comfortably without fear. They feel at ease collaborating with people from different backgrounds and accept unique perspectives - there’s no clash of ideas. 

There are several benefits of incorporating diversity and inclusion in the workplace. When your company is progressive and open toward people from all backgrounds, it creates a positive brand reputation. This further makes your company attractive to job seekers. For instance, GenZ and Millennials look for employers who adopt diversity in their hiring practices. 

Also, if you plan to retain your employees, you must build an atmosphere that respects everyone and allows each employee to grow and explore different verticals. When employees see their employers put diversity and inclusion plans into action, they are more satisfied. They are more likely to stay with the company longer, reducing attrition rates significantly.

Diverse teams can come up with creative and different solutions to complex problems. Recent studies show that a workplace promoting diversity and inclusion has employees who enjoy a balanced and happy life. Naturally, these employees put their best efforts into helping the company accomplish its long-term goals. 

Diversity and Inclusion: How are They Different?

Diversity and inclusion are two dependent terms that go hand in hand but cannot be used interchangeably. Diversity refers to an entity's outer makeup or representation. However, inclusivity refers to appreciating and incorporating the contributions and opinions of people from different groups.

Diversity points to the differences in people based on factors like religion, gender, socioeconomic background, etc., - things that set them apart. On the other hand, inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels heard and valued for what they bring to the table. A company may be diverse, but it may not be inclusive if it respects and upholds the opinions and ideas of a select few ethnicities, cultures, races, etc.

What Happens if you Confuse Diversity with Inclusion?

While diversity and inclusion are a perfect combination, you cannot replace one with the other. 

A company must take separate measures for diversity and inclusion. Failing this, it may face serious consequences, such as:

  • If you have a diverse workforce, your company's psychological safety will be jeopardized if you don't take an all-inclusive approach. Employee engagement will be at a bare minimum without psychological safety. When employees feel excluded, they usually develop a negative attitude towards the company and may struggle or fail to contribute to its growth.
  • While implementing diversity and inclusion policies is essential for ethical reasons, it is also crucial from a commercial standpoint. Without inclusivity, employees will not feel comfortable participating freely in activities within the office premises.

Perks of Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

When implemented correctly, employers can reap numerous benefits of diversity and inclusion.

Huge talent pool

When a company changes its recruitment practices, it can attract a diverse talent pool - people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, gender, etc., will apply. This creates a larger talent pool from where you can select candidates suitable for the role. 

Many candidates look for diverse workplaces, and you must strive to be a top priority on their list. When you hire candidates from a varied pool, you become more desirable as a recruiter.

Employee trust and engagement

Employees are more engaged when they feel included, and highly engaged employees go above and beyond for the company. They give their best to serve the organization. Profitability, team morale, retention, and all other aspects benefit from increased involvement. Employees who work in inclusive environments also have better physical and emotional health and take fewer sick days. A study shows that about 83% of millennials are actively engaged in their work when their employers support diversity and inclusion activities.

Fresh perspective

With a more diversified population, your organization has a better chance of new ideas. According to the Harvard Business Review, there is a statistically significant link between diversity and innovation results. Their revenue mix evaluation shows that the most varied businesses—migration, industry, career path, gender, education, and age—were also the most inventive. Each of the six aspects of diversity was linked to innovation, but the effects of industry, country of origin, and gender on revenue were considerably greater.

Improved decision making

When the teams of an organization are diverse, they bring different perspectives to the table. This helps in chalking out all the possible pros and cons of the issue at hand, leading to better decision-making. It is well known that diverse teams tend to outperform teams that have people from the same background. 

Better results and profits

Diversity and inclusion are advantageous to employees' mental health, with positive commercial implications. According to Harvard Business Review, more diversified businesses generate 19% more income. Again, a McKinsey analysis states that every 10% increase in the racial and ethnic diversity of a company's senior-executive team results in a 0.8% rise in earnings.

What are the Challenges of Diversity and Inclusion?

Implementing diversity and inclusion comes with specific challenges. It is crucial to identify those challenges and find solutions to overcome them. 

Some of the challenges faced in incorporating diversity and inclusion in the workplace are listed below:

Communication barriers

Communication constraints are one of the biggest problems every multinational company has to deal with. Even when people speak the same language, such as English, differences in colloquialisms and dialects between American, British, and Australian English can lead to confusion. More importantly, a language can have multiple ramifications that only people fluent in the language can fully comprehend.

Stereotypes

Stereotyping people from a particular group or community often happens in large organizations. Employees may use stereotypes to avoid interacting or collaborating with their colleagues at work.

Sometimes, employees may hold personal grudges against people from a particular community. These grudges are based on the background, a sense of superiority or inferiority, or the history that the communities have with each other. This may cause significant interruptions in the daily functioning of an organization.

Loss of trust

There might be instances where people coming from minority groups may feel that they are not being given equal or lucrative opportunities in the company. There might be issues with the manager, too, based on the background of both the parties involved. However, the employees might not raise their voices as they fear losing their jobs.

Visa, work permits, and other formalities

Building a global workforce can be extremely tiring, time-consuming, and expensive. Organizations must follow set protocol for arranging working visas, drafting employment contracts, etc., for their global teams. Plus, they must ensure that all their policies and practices comply with the country’s laws.

Organizations may sponsor the transfer of talents to various areas in particular instances. The sponsorship could result in paperwork and a (significant) budget for lodging and travel.

Cultural conflict

Employee productivity and morale might both suffer due to a cultural clash. Long-term company success can be achieved through diverse teams. If conflicts arising from cultural incompatibilities are not resolved timely, they might have long-term negative consequences on employee satisfaction and the company's reputation, among other things.

How to Implement Diversity and Inclusion Policies in Your Company?

You can incorporate industry-standard diversity and inclusion practices in your company by following these simple steps:

Set objective criteria

Bias or prejudice is less likely when objective standards are used. To eliminate unconscious discrimination, meet as a team to discuss these criteria openly and develop collaborative action plans. The best way to teach inclusivity to your employees is to make plans together and decide on objectives as a team.

Reward employees

When you appreciate or accept the employees for who they are, you value them as people. You can teach tolerance and acceptance by designing recognition and incentives programs to encourage employees to recognize their colleagues' talents and differences. Public acknowledgments can be uplifting because they foster a sense of belonging and provide visibility across the organization. When employees are recognized for their efforts, they feel valued.

Use tools

Measuring the impact of your efforts is very important for diversity and inclusion. You can use HR tools to track your progress and quantify the results. You can use employee engagement tools or software to find the loopholes in the policies and understand which factors don’t work for individual employees or different employee groups. One of the best ways is to take employees' feedback to understand what is working well for them and what can be improved.

Document the best policies

All employees should have access to a company's policies and procedures. A company's attitude to diversity and non-discrimination should be outlined in the code of conduct and regularly revised. Other policies should clearly state the company's stances on remuneration, benefits, employment conditions, and termination.

Why Should you Make Your Hiring Practices Diverse and inclusive?

It is essential to make diversity a part of a company's hiring practices. This ensures that you can steer and attract talent from across the globe.

It would be best to make the hiring managers aware of the prejudices they generally might have in mind while recruiting the employees. Employers must train hiring managers to assess a candidate’s value impartially based on their skills and competency, instead of differentiating factors like race, religion, gender, etc. 

Unbiased and inclusive hiring practices encourage employees to take pride in their abilities and perform in the workplace without any reservations. Eventually, a company’s hiring practices can fortify its good image in the market, setting the bar high for competitors.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: How is it Different from Diversity and Inclusion?

Equity has become a vital component of the diversity and inclusion equation in numerous global corporations.

Bordering on the motto of inclusion, equity is all about creating a fair and just workplace where all employees are evaluated on fair and unbiased criteria and offered equal opportunities to learn and grow. 

Leaders and employers must be aware of the obstacles, barriers, and benefits that exist for everyone at any given time to ensure fair and unbiased outcomes. Equity serves as a reminder that not everyone starts on the same footing and that prompt action is essential for creating an equitable workplace.

Diversity and Inclusion Trends 

Organizations are increasingly inclining toward creating a diverse and inclusive workplace for people to increase employee productivity and satisfaction, boost revenues, and leave a mark on the global landscape.

Here are some statistics showing the recent developments in the space:

  • In the United States, 97% of senior executive boards do not reflect the country's labor force or population demographics.
  • Female CEOs make up 25 (4.8%) of Fortune 500 CEOs as of March 2019 (up from 2.4% in 2008).
  • In contrast, according to another study, those with classic American names like John or William have a 14% higher financial return.
  • In addition to white males, white women outnumber men and women of color at every stage of the corporate pipeline (as of 2018).
  • Each year, $16 billion is lost due to employee mistreatment and turnover.
  • Only 79% of women are promoted to management positions for every 100 men promoted.
  • Muslims are 13% less likely to receive a call back for an interview after posting personal religiously affiliated items on social media.
  • When males have a kid, their earnings increase by 6%, while women's earnings decrease by 4%.

To Conclude

Diversity and inclusion are not just random terms to promote corporate ethics, but their importance goes far beyond. Several reports act as evidence and demonstrate that businesses that stick to their ideals and dedication to their people through tough times succeed. Therefore, it is crucial to create an environment where employees feel safe and comfortable enough to speak their minds. 

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