27 February 2018

5 Reasons Why Diversity and Inclusion are Important in The Workplace

  • Globalization
Author: Learnlight

In the modern corporate landscape, fostering workplace diversity and inclusion is not merely an option; it’s an imperative. 

In this article, we will explore the significance of workplace diversity and inclusion for the success of any organization, as well as ways to foster them within the workplace. These factors are crucial in cultivating a harmonious and productive work environment, from fostering creativity to boosting profitability.

What Is The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion are two related but distinct concepts often used in promoting equality and fairness in workplaces, communities, and society. Here’s an explanation of the key differences between them:

Diversity

Diversity refers to the presence of various individuals or groups with distinct characteristics, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives within a given environment, such as a workplace, community, or society. It is primarily concerned with recognizing and valuing differences among people, including race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and socio-economic status. The goal of diversity is to ensure representation and the existence of a broad range of voices and identities in a particular setting.

Inclusion 

Inclusion is the practice of creating an environment where all individuals, regardless of their differences, feel valued, respected, and fully integrated into the culture and operations of the group or organization. Inclusion emphasizes fostering a sense of belonging and equity for all, irrespective of their diverse attributes. It’s about ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources. The goal of inclusion is to go beyond merely having diverse individuals present; it seeks to make sure that these individuals are actively engaged, have a voice, and can contribute their unique perspectives to the group’s success.

In summary, diversity is about recognizing and appreciating differences, whereas inclusion is about creating an environment that actively welcomes and supports those differences. Both concepts are crucial for building fair and equitable workplaces and communities, as they complement each other in striving for equality and social cohesion.

Diversity Matters

A course to help build diverse and inclusive organizations

Diversity and Inclusion Challenges In The Workplace

1. One doesn’t lead to the other

Unfortunately, simply giving jobs to people of different genders, ages, ethnicities, sexualities, and backgrounds isn’t enough. Diversity doesn’t lead to inclusion.

An HBR study showed, for example, that once in the job, senior-level people from non-white ethnic groups felt pressure to sponsor people from the same group without focusing on hiring the best people – regardless of ethnicity.

2. The influence of wider society

We’ve made progress in the last century on women’s rights, equal rights, gay marriage, and many other things, so society is perfect, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Businesses with a healthy balance of men and women are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors

A recent study by the Council on Contemporary Families at the University of Texas-Austin shows that many “millennials” have very traditional views of home life and who the breadwinner should be. We should not take anything for granted. Societal evolution is not a straight line – it has many twists and turns.

3. I don’t matter to this company

Those employees from different ethnic and social backgrounds may often feel a sense of exclusion – due to previous experiences or a feeling of exclusion with their current employer.

81% of women say they feel some form of exclusion at work.

The failure to form social and emotional bonds with colleagues can lead to early departures, with those leaving often citing the lack of networking opportunities and opportunities for enhanced responsibilities. They feel that no one is talking about them when there are opportunities for extra responsibility or promotion.

Women’s feelings of exclusion, for example, do not relate to isolated examples or situations but rather an ongoing pattern of male behavior (which may or may not be intentional).

Whether it be inadvertent or not, male behavior tends to exclude women from informal networks, reduce or severely limit their chances for mentoring and sponsorship, and overlook their ideas and questions during meetings – what woman has not been “manteruppted” by a male colleague? The findings are eye-watering:

Eight-one percent of women say they feel some form of exclusion at work.

Further reading

How to Help Your Organization Move from Unconscious Bias to Conscious Inclusion

Why Building a D&I Strategy Gives Your Organization a Competitive Advantage

Why Developing Female Talent Can Give Your Company a Competitive Edge

Learnlight Research Reveals One in Four Employees Has Experienced Workplace Discrimination

7 Ways Unconscious Bias Impacts Your Daily Interactions at Work

Why Global Mobility Must Stand Up and Help Drive a Diverse Workforce

4. Hiding sexual orientation

Employees often hide their sexual orientation from colleagues and bosses. Be it for the desire to “fit in” or to not “stand out”, many LGBT employees still do not consider their workplace to be inclusive.

Well if a gay Irishman can become the CEO of Qantas then an indigenous lady can (Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas)

When Alan Joyce, the chief executive of Australian airline Qantas, was asked by a young indigenous woman whether she could ever head up the firm his answer was unequivocal – “Well if a gay Irishman can become the CEO of Qantas then an indigenous lady can.”

Sending a clear message from the top of an organization that it is ok to be who you are is a vital step on the road to an inclusive organization.

Companies such as EBRD have developed specific networks to raise the visibility of LGBT staff at the Bank so that employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual feel more comfortable about being open about their sexuality in the workplace.

Diversity Matters

A course to help build diverse and inclusive organizations

5. Respecting other ethnicities and cultures

The impact of globalization is everywhere – in how we dress, what we eat and where we travel. The typical office is now made up of people from a diverse spectrum of cultures and ethnicities.

Companies with employees from a good mix of ethnic backgrounds are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors (McKinsey)

Despite the huge advances made over the last 30 years, many employees do not feel entirely “at home” in office surroundings. Coffee “banter”, stereotypes, or jokes in poor humor are still rife in many office environments. It is therefore paramount for managers to implement policies of inclusion and not exclusion.

Diversity and inclusion make good business sense. Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians, according to management consultancy McKinsey, which looked at 366 public companies across a range of industries.

*copyright: globaldiversitypractice.co.uk

Why Are Diversity and Inclusion Important in the Workplace?

1. Enhanced Creativity and Innovation

Diverse teams bring together individuals with different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. This diversity of thought fosters creativity and innovation, as employees approach problems and challenges from various angles, leading to fresh ideas and solutions.

2. Increased Employee Engagement

Employees who feel valued and included are more likely to be engaged in their work. An inclusive workplace promotes a sense of belonging, leading to higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and increased productivity.

3. Fostering Innovation

Inclusive workplaces encourage employees to speak up and share their ideas without fear of discrimination. This leads to a culture of innovation, where employees are empowered to take risks and contribute to the organization’s growth.

4. Better Decision-Making

Diverse teams make better decisions. Research has consistently shown that organizations with diverse leadership and teams tend to make more informed and well-rounded choices, resulting in improved business outcomes.

5. Happier Employees 

Employees will experience greater happiness when they work in an environment that champions diversity and inclusivity. This increased happiness will manifest in their work output, as they will thrive in their roles, leading to new opportunities and ultimately contributing to the business’s overall success.

6. Attracting Top Talent

Organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more appealing to a broader pool of job candidates. This can attract highly skilled and diverse talent, giving the company a competitive edge in recruitment.

7. Improved Customer Relations

A diverse workforce can better understand and relate to a diverse customer base. This can improve customer service, as employees can more effectively connect with and meet the needs of a diverse range of clients or customers.

8. Global Competitiveness

In today’s globalized world, businesses often operate in diverse markets with varied customer bases. A diverse workforce that understands and respects different cultures and perspectives can help a company navigate international markets more effectively.

9. Outperform Competitors 

Prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the workplace provides tangible benefits that can lead to a competitive advantage. It fosters innovation, better decision-making, market understanding, and a positive corporate image, all of which contribute to outperforming competitors in a dynamic and diverse business environment.

How To Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is essential for creating a fair, equitable, and welcoming environment for all employees. Here are some steps to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace:

Create a Strategic Training Program

Business diversity training and education programs help employees understand how cultural differences impact how people work and interact. These programs should focus on understanding unconscious bias, cultural competence, and the benefits of diversity. By educating employees, you empower them to recognize and address bias in the workplace.

Be Aware of Unconscious Bias

The first step in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is understanding bias and building awareness. Encouraging each employee to examine, challenge, and analyze their biases and assumptions is a method to raise awareness and tackle unconscious bias.

Ensure Equal Pay for Equal Work

A business or organization has an obligation to guarantee that individuals of both genders engaged in identical roles receive equitable compensation unless any distinctions in pay can be reasonably explained. 

Acknowledge Holidays of All Cultures

Promoting awareness of diversity and nurturing a culture of inclusivity involves recognizing and acknowledging upcoming religious and cultural holidays. After team calls or meetings, if the group size allows, inquire about individuals’ plans for celebrating these holidays. Utilize your company’s intranet to inform employees about various multicultural religious and holiday observances. When scheduling meetings, demonstrate respect for these significant days and recognize that employees may have unique requirements for flexibility.

How Learnlight Can Help

At Learnlight, we provide language, intercultural, and communications skills training to blue chips and international organizations worldwide. We offer intercultural training, which will enhance your employee’s ability to communicate and collaborate internationally, bridging any cultural and communication gaps that are in the way.

If you want to learn more about what we can offer your business, please request a demo or contact our team today.

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