Diversity and inclusion in the workplace have secured a level of importance among the different parts of the world as the major leaders in the business aspire to develop a more cohesive, collaborative, and a creative work environment and this is particularly targeted to ensure continued growth.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains diversity as the collective combination of differences and similarities that includes individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, genders, age, religions, disabilities, sexual orientations, education, personalities, skill sets, knowledge-based preferences, and behaviours.
Diversity is explained through two categories. Visible diversity traits are often what is emphasized and include race, gender, physical abilities, age, and body type. Invisible diversity traits include things such as sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, education, and parental status among other things.
A research carried out by Deloitte states that diversity relies on the perceptions of different generations, i.e., culmination of different background, experiences and perspectives as well as taking advantage of such differences may benefit to lead to innovation was the perspective of millennials as per the study. Contrastingly, Gen X and Boomers perceive workplace diversity as independent of its relationship with business results and rather as equal and fair representation irrespective of the demographics.
While considering the topic of inclusion, it is often perceived as closely related to diversity but is independent. SHRM explains it as the procurement of an environment in which fair treatment and respect, equal access to opportunities and resources and contribution to organizations success completely is evident.
Best practices for diversity and inclusion in the workplace
A survey of 330 HR executives carried out by Professor Roberson found some of the best practices for diversity an inclusion in the workplace are to be:
- Just treatment
- Access to opportunity must be equivalent.
- Teamwork and alliances
- Innovation and creativity should be of focus.
- Organizational flexibility, responsiveness, and agility
- Conflict resolution processes that are mutual.
- Leadership’s commitment to diversity and inclusion should be evident (e.g., appointing a Chief Diversity / Equality Officer).
- Diversity representation should be present at all levels of organization, including internal and external stakeholders.
- Education and training regarding the diversity and inclusion in the workplace
However, it was seen that employees perceive their company as diverse and inclusive based on practices that aren’t even directly related to practices of diversity that focuses on innovation and creativity. Instead, some of the best practices are the ones perceived as desirable by everyone in the workplace.
Strategies for diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Some of the key strategies of Bersin by Deloitte’s diversity and Inclusion in the workplace framework include:
- An aim and strategy should be developed at the CEO/COO/CHRO level
- Assignment of a top executive whose responsibilities entail leading and sponsorship of the diversity and inclusion program
- Creation of behavioural standards and ensuring that leaders are held accountable for the results
- Training should be given at all levels that particularly cover topics such as unconscious bias
- Strategies integrating diversity and inclusion should be promoted in recruitment, management, leadership assessment and training.
- Development of employee networks such as employee resource groups, community outreach groups
- Development of scorecards that are transparent and accessible to measure progress (e.g., metrics for recruiting, promotion rates, compensation levels, turnover, participation in ERGs, and supplier diversity) that employs inclusive language.
The domination of diversity and inclusion in the workplace will continue to be as influential as the makeup of workforces changes significantly. In order to ensure the maintenance of talent continuity and to broaden the appeal in various segments of the market, there must be more clarity regarding the two concepts and how they fit together. The benefits of such a workforce that entails diverse individuals who are motivated to positively contribute to a company’s success are proposed to be numerous such as higher financial performance, novel problem solving and easy employee retention.