Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Discover what diversity and inclusion in the workplace mean, the differences between diversity and inclusion, and some benefits of establishing diversity and inclusion in an organization.

employees displaying diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Published 16 Sep 2022

What is Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace refer to establishing a culture and a team from various cultural backgrounds. These can be a broad set of strategies and missions to ensure that the company establishes a diverse culture.

In 2021, over 70 percent of Americans said they would prefer to work with people who are different from themselves, which is one of the reasons many organizations are looking to establish diverse and inclusive cultures.

There are various approaches to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. On top of that, achieving it may be a long and complex task. That said, the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace far outweigh the costs and steps it would take to establish one.

Diversity vs. Inclusion: Understanding the Difference

While diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand in workplace settings, they are two different concepts. And to establish the right culture and attract top talent in the job market, it’s important to understand where the two concepts overlap and where they differ.

Diversity, as per a 2018 Gallup report, is the full spectrum of human experience. In other words, diversity refers to the different qualities and characteristics of every human being. It could be their race, religion, cultural background, sexual orientation, class, gender, and more.

In the workplace, diversity refers to having a team and set of employees that are diverse or come from different backgrounds and have different characteristics. A diverse workforce is one that employs all types of people to increase creativity and productivity.

Inclusion, on the other hand, refers to ensuring that every single person in the company is treated fairly and equally. Additionally, it could also mean taking steps to ensure that everyone in the workforce feels like they are part of a team and work towards their goals as a team.

This doesn’t just improve employee morale, but it encourages collaboration and open communication, which gives the organization a solid foundation on which they can work.

Importance

Many workers prefer working in a diverse and inclusive workplace. This can boost their morale, promote collaboration, and improve overall company performance. On top of that, a lot of the top talent on the job market are people that prefer diverse workplaces. So, to secure the best team, organizations need to ensure that they have a diverse and inclusive one.

But having a diverse and inclusive workplace goes beyond abstract concepts. Evidence shows that companies with a diverse workforce have a 19% better revenue than less diverse organizations. So, not only is having a diverse team good for the employees, but it’s also good for the company.

Benefits

There are many reasons to work towards building a diverse and inclusive workplace. The first of which is that when you have a diverse team, you get a wider range of ideas for improving the company, its processes, and even boosting revenue. People from different backgrounds will have their own input when meeting with the team, which is very valuable regardless of the field or industry.

But aside from attracting talents, diverse and inclusive workplaces are better at getting them to stay. Workers in diverse workplaces tend to be happier than employees in monolithic companies, which is why diverse companies tend to have a higher employee retention rate than others.

On top of all that, having a diverse and inclusive workplace also helps in terms of numbers. With a diverse and inclusive workplace, it’s much easier to think outside the box when building strategies to grow the company.

Innovation can drive success when running a business. A great way to build an innovative and creative team is by finding members who come from different cultural backgrounds and can provide their unique input.

Common Diversity Types in the Workplace

A diverse workplace isn’t just one with people of different races and cultural backgrounds. There are many different approaches to diversity, such as:

Internal

Internal diversity refers to the circumstances in which a person was born. Their birth country, race, ethnicity, and culture are all examples of internal diversity.

Organizational

These diversity factors are the ones that come as a result of a person’s field, industry, employment, and job location. Examples of an organization’s diversity factors include management status, seniority level, department, and more.

External

The external diversity factors are the ones that a person isn’t born into. For example, this could mean the person’s:

  • education;
  • interests;
  • religion;
  • socio-economic status;
  • citizenship;
  • relationship status; and
  • experience.

Worldview

As the name entails, this diversity factor involves how a person sees the world. It could be their political beliefs, historical knowledge, and the events that are a part of their culture or something they have experienced.

How to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Building a diverse and inclusive workplace has to start from the top. That’s why organizations looking to create a more diverse workplace need to ensure that HR managers and leaders are briefed on the importance of diversity and why they need to take steps to ensure everyone feels like they are on the same team. That way, current and new employees will feel that culture right away.

Additionally, having a council or team dedicated to diversity and inclusion allows for much better results. This is because the team can focus on how to diversify the workforce and the steps they can take to ensure that everyone feels included, creating a more positive atmosphere.

And when hiring, it might be important to keep diversity in mind. That way, you can take steps to find people who come from various cultural backgrounds with their own set of beliefs and who would make a positive contribution to the team. It would also be helpful if diversity and inclusion is reiterated during employee onboarding as a way to stress their importance to the organization. 

FAQs about Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace needs to be an organization-wide effort. Everyone in the workforce needs to be briefed on the importance of diversity in the company and the leaders need to set an example for that. When diversity and inclusion are built into the company’s vision and policies, it will be much easier to demonstrate it to the team to foster a positive environment.

One of the biggest benefits of promoting a diverse team is that there is more creativity in their ideas. People from diverse backgrounds will have different and unique inputs. This can help teams strategize with ideas that are out of the box, which could improve productivity and overall performance.

Building a diverse team starts with the hiring process. It’s important to search for competent individuals from various backgrounds to ensure that the teams are diverse. From there, organizations need to build an inclusive culture that makes sure that no one is excluded and everyone feels like a part of the team.

Inclusive workplaces can take many shapes and forms. But some of the most common qualities of one include ensuring:

  • every employee is heard and can speak when they want to (psychological safety);
  • everyone feels valued;
  • there’s a sense of belonging; and
  • the team spirit is high.

SafetyCulture staff writer

Leon Altomonte

Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.

Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.