Why Is Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Important?

The phrase Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is not just a few concepts brought together. Each word speaks to distinct values and has a meaning in worklife. In any organisation members bring a diverse set of perspectives, work and life experiences. They also have religious and cultural differences.

Gender & Equality Diversity
  • Release Date: 02 June 2022
  • Update Date: 15 March 2024
  • Author: Speaker Agency
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The compilation of all these separate attributes makes a big, colourful picture which we call diversity. But, what is diversity in an organisation? And how does it work in terms of inclusion and belonging?

The existence of differences in our surroundings (for example where we work and interact with others) is the  basic definition of diversity. Examples of diversity can be about religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, gender, nationality, social and economical status or political stance.  There might be even more to this list.

In a society, (or in any community or group) if and when each member of that group is provided with access, resources and opportunities, then we can say equity is ensured for them. Every member of the team needs resources and opportunity to be successful or to grow in a better direction. 

There is also the concept of inclusion which means the culture of being open and welcoming to all people without taking regard of their race, ethnicity, sex, abilities, gender identity or religious beliefs. A workplace like this can be an environment for people who feel valued and respected.  

The power of diversity can only be unleashed and its benefits reaped when we recognise the differences of people and learn to respect and value each individual regardless of their background. Diversity and inclusion efforts also contribute to the employee wellbeing, company culture and better representation of the company.

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One thing which needs to be addressed here is the fact that we all bear unconscious biases. They are sometimes referred to as implicit biases. They are learned assumptions, beliefs, or attitudes of which we aren’t necessarily aware. We can say that bias is actually an understandable part of our brain function but it’s possible it is also where stereotypes are reinforced. In order to combat unconscious bias, you need to know about different types of biases, how they might surface at work, and how to avoid them. 

This is essential to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Our unconscious biases influence our professional lives whether we are aware of it or not. In this case, we feel this impact from the way we think to the way we communicate with others. The results of implicit bias can start with judgements with no ground and reinforce stereotypes. When making an important decision or for instance in recruitment, implicit bias harms the entire process or the flow of events because we are all inclined to use these biases as a quick way to process information. 

Unconscious biases are formed over time as we accumulate life experiences and get exposed to different stereotypes. These biases can negatively impact the company culture and team dynamics in the workplace.Gender bias, ageism, name bias, beauty bias, confirmation bias, conformity bias, affinity bias, status-quo bias, authority bias, and perception bias may exist in an organisation and because of this, decision-making is negatively affected, dynamics of the team and leadership styles are also tainted which results in limiting the diversity in the company..      

Diversity and inclusion are about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. Research shows companies where these issues are taken into consideration are locally and globally more successful. Here are some of the methods to adopt diversity and inclusion in the workplace:

Gender Equality

Regardless of their position, every employee in the workplace should be provided with equal improvement possibilities. Although there has been progress in female representation at the top of organisations, there’s still a long way to go until we can claim equality of opportunity in career progression on the basis of gender.

Despite notable progress there’s still a lack of female representation in executive positions compared to non-executive roles, meaning that women are still underrepresented in operational roles, so they don’t have the day-to-day influence of decision-making roles in business.

Establishing a gender balanced work environment makes the company stronger, improves happiness in the workplace, brings in positive change and opens the door for new ways of understanding. Here are some of the actions to take regarding gender equality:

  • Training, mentoring and coaching programmes
  • Flexible work environment
  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Leadership seminars
  • Gender balance in executive roles
  • Actions to take against prejudice
  • Motivational activities and promotion

Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity is about bringing people together from a diverse set of backgrounds and cultures, then creating an environment that not only recognizes the differences between those cultures and backgrounds, but celebrates them. It helps create a safe space for people to be authentically themselves. Cultural diversity contributes companies in the following aspects:

  • Cultural diversity widens the horizons of the employees in the workplace.
  • Company policies are better formed and nurtured thanks to the feedback coming from employees with different cultural backgrounds.
  • Establishing cultural diversity makes companies follow nationwide changes and improvements closely and manage their digital transformation activities better.
  • Social contact and communication are made stronger when there is cultural diversity at work.
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Empowering Different Generations

The fact that experienced experts play a main role in businesses should not be an obstacle for a sustainable business. Ensuring a sustainable business is possible by empowering younger generations. Companies which invest in people and benefit from the innovative business solutions offered by younger generations are able to plan their long term future endeavours efficiently. In order to include younger generations in work life, businesses should consider taking action about the following:

  • Organising training programmes for younger generations run by the experienced individuals so that their knowledge is passed to those with less experience and expertise.
  • Valuing feedback from employees from all generations.
  • Making sure the younger generations feel engaged and included in the workplace.
  • Understanding that age difference is richness.

Honoring and Valuing Talent

Talents and interests of the employees are important aspects when it comes to improving performance and productivity in the workplace. This will allow the company to place employees in different units depending on the strategy and get them to work with dedication. Here are some suggestions to honour and value talent:

  • Running employee satisfaction surveys and organising social activities outside work. This will allow the company to discover different interests and orientations of the employees.
  • Making it possible for the employees to analyse their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Arranging the organisational chart and the task assignments according to the competence of the employees.
  • Employing the disabled and making sure they play a role in the company by organising training programmes for them.
  • Making sure the communication is strong between the employees and the executive branches.

On a final note, it’s worth remembering that there are strategies to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at the workplace. These strategies work efficiently unless the heart is there. Here are nine steps to make a workplace an environment where employees feel belong and want to be a part of something successful. 

  • Identify Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as a strategic priority.
  • Conduct pay equity reviews.
  • Recruit and promote from a diverse point of view.
  • Create a mentorship programme,
  • Train and engage employees on DEI all the time.
  • Make sure benefits and programmes are inclusive.
  • Develop Employee Resource Groups which feed the company culture.
  • Check-up on your executive board or executive teams so that they pay attention to DEI in the organisation.
  • Make your leaders accountable.

For more information on diversity and inclusion in business, please refer to our Gender Equality Speakers and meet Speaker Agency’s experts Deborah Rosado Shaw, Hayley Barnard, Evrim Kuran and Judith Liberman to help with your business.

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