Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers

Published On
September 28, 2023
Read Time
4 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are concepts that have been gaining traction in the corporate world now, more than ever. Diverse and inclusive workplaces are more likely to earn the trust and commitment of the workforce. By valuing the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of all their employees, such businesses will outperform their competitors.

In this article, we discuss the various aspects related to diversity and inclusion. We also bring to you, a few effective ways that help you build employee-friendly workplaces.

The Difference Between Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are two interrelated concepts. However, a lot of people believe that these terms are the same, and tend to use them interchangeably. While diversity is about the representation or composition of an entity, inclusion relates to how well people from different groups are valued and assimilated into an environment.

An organization that has the presence of different genders, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and identities is diverse. But, that doesn’t make it an inclusive workplace. Let’s suppose a business has 50% of its workforce comprising women but none of its managers are women. Though women have representation here, they do not have an equal opportunity to contribute to and influence the workplace. True inclusion removes all barriers, discrimination, and intolerance.

When the members feel equally involved and supported in all areas of the workplace, irrespective of their identity or position, the aspect of inclusion is achieved. Several experts believe that inclusivity is the key to maintaining (and not just creating) diversity in the workplace.

Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion

Diverse and inclusive workplace cultures will not only help businesses draw a diverse set of talent but also aid retain that talent. Research has found that D&I help businesses increase their revenue growth, and boost their readiness to innovate. A diverse workforce can bring varied viewpoints and perspectives to the company, thereby helping you develop great new products and better ways to satisfy your customers. Better decision making, employee engagement & motivation, and higher rates of job acceptance when you make offers to qualified candidates are some of the other benefits.

A survey by Professor Roberson where 330 HR executives took part reveals that D&I best practices include:

• Fair Treatment

• Equal Access to Opportunity

• Teamwork and Collaboration

• A Focus On Innovation and Creativity

• Organizational Flexibility, Responsiveness, And Agility

• Conflict Resolution Processes that are Collaborative

• Evidence of Leadership’s Commitment to Diversity

• Representation of Diversity at All Levels of the Organization

• Representation of Diversity Among Internal and External Stakeholders

• Diversity Education and Training

Some Tips to Nurture Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

1. Evaluate your Executive Team

The first step to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces is to assess if the executive teams portray D&I. The composition of your executive team speaks volumes about your company culture. Owing to this aspect, it becomes crucial to have top management that is diverse. All the genders, cultural and religious groups should be equally represented and feel included.

Fact: A survey report from Boston Consulting Group found among the Fortune 500 companies, only 24 CEOs are women, which represents just 5% of the total number of CEOs. The survey also found that among the 500 CEOs, there were only three blacks, three openly gay, and one lesbian.

2. Make your Employees Feel Welcome, Heard, and Respected.

Several studies have found employees quitting jobs once they feel that their true selves are not appreciated. It is vital to create a setting where they can feel a sense of belonging. Employers must make sure their people feel included and respected regardless of their gender, race, age, religion, physical conditions, sexual orientation, cultural background, or place of origin. This happens only when they believe that it’s safe to voice their concerns and opinions devoid of the fear of victimization.

3. Address Gender Pay Inequality.

Gender pay inequality is a much-debated topic. Business owners must address gender pay disparities that exist in the company, and possibly reveal some of the company’s data points around compensation. Personnel trust and a sense of inclusion depend on your company’s transparency in its policies and communication about those policies. If there’s a gender pay imbalance, it is essential to open the communication channels so that employees can give their opinions. Devise strategies to address the gap, and present it to them with clarity. This will instill in them the belief that your business is committed to taking action to bridge the gap.

4. Acknowledge Varied Religious and Cultural Practices.

Your workplace should honor a variety of cultural and religious practices. This can be done with the help of simple steps such as focusing on holidays and celebrations. SHRM discusses how some companies offer floating holidays to accommodate the religious preferences of all employees. Experts also suggest using the company’s intranet to help the employees keep track of multicultural, and religious holidays.

5. Strengthen Anti-Discriminatory Policies.

As per a Harvard Business Review survey, 75% of respondents found that superficial policies and language were inadequate to truly bring about real change. They believed that leadership commitment and strengthening anti-discriminatory policies are required to make workplaces inclusive.

6. Make Your Workspaces Inclusive.

Your office needs to be accessible to wheelchair users. Disabled-friendly offices with accessible restrooms will help build inclusiveness. Your workspace should have gender-friendly bathrooms. You can also set up nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers.  

7. Eliminate Bias in Hiring and Promotion.

Existing research on recruitment and hiring reveals that the process is unfair and biased. Much of it is unconscious sexism, racism, and ageism. This can harm your company’s reputation if you leave it unchecked. A recent study shows that business owners apply different standards while hiring, promoting, and evaluating job performance. You may implement strategies such as rewriting job descriptions to make them gender-neutral, creating a blind system to review resumes so you don’t see demographic characteristics, etc.

Fact: SHRM notes that despite being a good sourcing solution, employee referral programs can often result in "like me" referrals, where employees refer candidates of the same race, religion, national origin, or other class.

8. Conduct Surveys to Measure Inclusion.

To measure inclusion in the workplace, HBR surveyed nearly 10,000 employees around the world and asked them to rate their level of agreement with 45 statements that form the basis of the Gartner Inclusion Index. You can conduct a similar survey for your employees. The seven elements included are as follows:

1. Fair treatment: Employees at my organization who help the organization achieve its strategic objectives are rewarded and recognized fairly.

2. Integrating differences: Employees at my organization respect and value each other’s opinions.

3. Decision making: Members of my team fairly consider ideas and suggestions offered by other team members.

4. Psychological safety: I feel welcome to express my true feelings at work.

5. Trust: The communication we receive from the organization is honest and open.

6. Belonging: People in my organization care about me.

7. Diversity: Managers at my organization are as diverse as the broader workforce.

HBR envisages that the survey results will help leaders create a baseline measure of employee perceptions and look for pockets of inconsistency, both in variability within teams or more broadly between parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

It’s high time employers reviewed their organizational culture, values, and policies to adopt a more diverse, and inclusive model. D&I help organizations to build milieus that support their employees’ growth. Also, gathering the ideas and experiences of a diverse team of workers will contribute to your business’ success. By implementing the strategies outlined above, we’re sure you’ll be able to make your workplaces more diverse and inclusive.

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