The term Diversity represents a full spectrum of human demographic differences based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, physical disabilities and ethnicities along with differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences and knowledge. Diversity is perceived differently by different generations. A lot of companies consider different lifestyles, personality characteristics, opinions or family composition to be elements of diversity, too.
Inclusion is a collective term for a collaborative, supportive, and respectful work environment that increases the participation and contribution of the employees. Inclusion refers to a cultural feeling of belonging. It can be assessed as the extent to which an employee is valued, appreciated, respected and encouraged to fully participate in the organization.
Diversity and inclusion is a collaboration of an organization’s mission, strategies, and practices to sustain a diverse workplace and leverage its effects to achieve a viable business advantage. Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business, statistically performs better than its peers.
According to millennial’s workplace diversity is the combination of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, with the help of which we see new innovations every day and many companies surveyed strongly agreed that diversity helps in driving innovation. It is clear that they believe this innovation advantage is achieved through their ability to attract and recruit diverse talent. In order to be successful, diversity and inclusion has to be a head to toe business strategy and not just an HR program.
Majority of the companies measure the success of their diversity and inclusion programs with metrics such as employee productivity and turnover. Diversity and inclusion are top of the bar these days and will only grow as companies continue to invest in their diversity and inclusion programs. It is true to say that diversity and inclusion work together to affect the desired outcomes. Without inclusion, however, the crucial connections which attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, bring innovation and lead to business growth, won’t happen. Improvements in diversity and inclusion reflect both the tone and value set of the company.
Three pillars of Diversity and Inclusion
In any case, Companies with a defined agendas and values have a solid foundation to build on. Listening carefully to employees’ needs and laying them alongside quantitative data will shed light on the bigger issues in many cases.
Starting with the mission helps leaders look at inclusiveness as a cultural environment. This allows for arrangement between values and definable actions and it can increase the productivity, profit and performance of the employees. Most productive workplaces around the world are found to possess cultures that value each individual’s unique strengths. The goal is to build and foster a culture where every voice is welcomed, respected and heard.
- Employees are treated with great respect.
A culture of inclusiveness is rooted in respect. Employees must be treated with civility and decency. Respect is an all company requirement that encourages its employees to speak up and share new ideas.
- Employees are valued for their skills and strengths.
Effective collaboration, productivity and profitability are why companies incorporate in strength coaching as their development strategy. Studies have found that coaching showed higher improvements in inclusiveness.
- Leaders should take the responsibility.
For the diversity strategy to promote a culture of inclusion too, leaders have to make their company values and intentions clear. Leaders must intentionally create an environment where an employee feels safe to express their ideas and where specific concerns are dealt with full transparency and confidence.
A well-formulated strategy grounded in these three requirements can resolve serious business and culture problems such as those related to recruitment, retention and better market penetration. Those are the outcomes a leadership should look for.
Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion to companies
Diversity and inclusion have been coupled together for many years, but it is important to understand that they are not the same. Clubbing them together reduces an organization’s ability to improve on them both. Understanding and addressing them separately is very essential. Employees in culturally inclusive environments feel appreciated for their unique talents and are therefore comfortable in sharing their true selves.
Following are some benefits of diversity and inclusion to companies –
- Easy to recruit and retain employees
- The ability to attract dedicated and hard-working employees is one of the key benefits of diversity. In a strong economy, employers put a great effort to find quality employees because the applicant pool is lesser. But organizations with strong diversity and inclusion practices place themselves ahead in the race. Good practices don’t just bring employees to the door but also encourages them to stay. A clear strategy can help organizations retain the best talent.
- Improves the performance of employees
- Employees in diverse environments consistently outperform employees in non diverse environments. Multiple studies have reported that when employees feel valued for their uniqueness, they are happier and more efficient in their work.
- On the other hand, when employees experience any form of racism, sexism, homophobia, or any negative behavior, it makes them to rethink about their decision. Employees working in such unfriendly environments tend to divert their focus to their worries more than their work. Properly strategized diversity and inclusion policies keep employees happy and happy employees are always more productive.
- Increases creativity and births Innovation
- Diversity promotes creativity. Diversity births innovation by creating an environment where even ‘out of the box’ ideas are heard. A clear strategy allows employees to productively focus their mental energies on creative thinking.
- Keeps both customers and clients happy
- Diversity is the key to consumer service. While customers are always important, it is important to know that the consumer behavior is also changing. As example, African American women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs today so, the face of the business client is also changing. In this new era, all organizations will need diversity and inclusion competence to compete. If organizations want to survive and thrive in this new world, they will all need workers that understand the needs of diverse customers.
- Opens up new markets
- In today’s world where economy is more connected than ever, non diverse companies may not be able to meet the challenges of a global marketplace. Companies that respect diversity show their consumers that they are forward-thinking, but those who fail to diversify, risk being left out at the market. Reducing the chances of international embarrassment is one of the many benefits of diversity and inclusion.
- Improves Branding
- Diversity and inclusion improve a company’s brand and help them create a mark in the marketplace. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion help companies advance their brands and their bottom lines.
- Increases Profits
- If morals aren’t a strong enough motivation, companies that diversify are more profitable than those who do not. Researchers have found that companies with good diversity and inclusion practices were about 35 to 40 percent more likely to have an above average net profit. It gives companies an earnings edge in such a competitive marketplace.
- Promotes economic growth
- A diverse workforce drives the economic growth. Businesses need to adapt to the changing scenario to be able to thrive in the economic market. It is important to create a competitive economy in this globalized world. Diversity and inclusion in businesses specifically with women as faces is the key to moving our economy forward.
- More qualified workforce
- Being able to recruit from a diverse pool of candidates means the employer is able to create a strong and unbeatable workforce.
- Reduce turnover costs
- A diverse and inclusive work environment helps businesses avoid the employee turnover costs and capture a big share of the consumer market.
Diversity and inclusion will continue to dominate the discussion in various boardrooms across the globe as the makeup of the workforce is changing significantly in today’s time. In order for business leaders to sustain a talented community and expand their appeal in various markets, they must develop a better understanding of how the concepts of diversity and inclusion fit together. So much advancement has been made in the last few decades, but in order to take full advantage of the power of diversity and inclusion for a business, the best of practices have to be incorporated which focus majorly on –
- Continuity in maintaining successful pipeline of diverse talent
- Flexible work environments that promote beneficial to diverse and inclusive workforce
- Excellent mentoring and coaching services
Besides helping in the process of selection, retention and customer sincerity, promoting diversity and inclusion practices can also help reduce harassment in workplace. This training can thus also help the organizations to form new ways to promote anti-harassment and discrimination programs and establish a well respected and safe environment.
In a nutshell, it is all about appreciating the differences of people in terms of their unique diversities and fostering them in a culturally rich inclusive environment for best outcomes.