What Is Diversity and Inclusion?
When most people think about diversity, they often consider race, ethnicity, or culture, but diversity is very broad and also includes things like language, economic status, abilities, gender, beliefs, and sexual orientation. An easy way to think about it is that an organization’s workforce should be as diverse as the larger community within which it operates.
Diversity policies, programs, strategies, and training should promote diversity within an organization and strive to eliminate any prejudice or discrimination. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is not only the right thing to do ethically-speaking, but it is also key to increasing employee performance and business results. Here are three ways that diversity can have a positive impact on an organization:
1. Employee Satisfaction and Retention
An inclusive workplace supports and engages all staff. Without appreciating and promoting diversity, diverse employees are likely to leave because of feeling isolated and overlooked. They may also feel that they do not have the same opportunities for advancement. This may lead them to seek out a career with a more inclusive organization.
2. Customer Service
All of your employees are not the same, and neither are your customers. Employing a diverse workforce enables you to better serve your customers. A diverse group of employees have unique perspectives, knowledge, and affiliations. For example, employees from diverse backgrounds may speak multiple languages and enable you to better serve a specific customer base.
Diverse employees bring different perspectives, fresh ideas, and new ways of thinking that can help create a healthy dialogue when solving business problems or coming up with new ideas. There is a strong link between diversity and innovation. Researchers have found diverse groups are more creative, productive, and effective than homogeneous teams.
There are so many workplace benefits to diversity that it’s clear a diverse workforce is worth fostering. To do this, you not only need leadership support, but an educational approach that provides training to employees on the importance of diversity. However, creating a diverse workforce is about more than formal training sessions. In order for diversity to become embedded in the organization, the workplace must practice it on an ongoing basis. The best way to do this is to provide opportunities for employees to connect, share, and be themselves:
Help employees learn about each other. For example, ask all employees to complete a brief survey about themselves and share some personal information, if they are comfortable doing so. This could include things like hobbies, languages spoken, and their educational background.
Hold events where employees can interact and learn about each other. Consider asking employees to volunteer to host a lunch. or host a potluck where everyone is encouraged to bring a dish. These are great opportunities to learn if they have a special skill or interest they’d like to share.
Create diverse teams. In any situation where a team or committee is required, think about how it can be more diverse and inclusive.
Recognize significant days and events. For example, Disability Independence Day, International Women’s Day, Deaf History Month, and Ramadan.
Creating a diverse work environment that is open and accepting of all employees is essential for any organization that values employee engagement and productivity. When employees do not feel a sense of belonging, organizations can experience dysfunction like poor morale, low retention, and decreased productivity. Diversity and Inclusion can mean a wholesome environment in which to work, serve others and profit.