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April 21st, 2021 · 5 min read

What is diversity in the workplace?

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Benefits of diversity in the workplace

  • Employees perform better when they feel seen and respected. According to one study from Forbes, associates who feel valued at their jobs are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged at work.
  • Companies with high diversity are more profitable. In a recent report, McKinsey stated that organizations with higher diversity in management are 35 percent more likely to have higher financial returns than companies without.
  • Diversity feeds diversity. A study from Deloitte showed that job seekers today list diversity as one of the top things they look for in a potential workplace. Hiring for diversity attracts a wider talent pool and gives you better access to high-performing employees from all walks of life.

How do you know if you lack diversity in the workplace?

  • Everyone looks the same or has the same background. Leaders not taking conscious steps towards diverse hiring practices tend to hire themselves. It may feel natural to want to work alongside people who look and act like you, but if everyone on your team belongs to the same gender, race, or ethnicity, it’s time to overhaul your hiring practices and opt for a more diverse approach to recruitment. 
  • Lack of innovation. A diverse workforce is one that’s ripe for innovation — novel ideas emerge when a variety of minds come together. Stagnation or an unchanging status quo at your organization demonstrates a lack of thought diversity and a pressing need to include new and different perspectives on your team.
  • Not all voices are heard. If you rarely hear from your marginalized employees, it might be a sign that they feel uncomfortable speaking up in group settings. This shows that your organization either prioritizes the ideas and opinions of the dominant culture or actively silences the underrepresented members on your team.

How to improve diversity in the workplace

  • Call it out. Addressing the issue always begins with acknowledgment and accountability. If your organization has a homogenous culture and non-diverse hiring practices, call it out and follow up with actionable steps toward change.
  • Create internal positions devoted to DEI. Having one or multiple positions that are solely dedicated to advancing diversity promotes accountability at the organizational and individual levels. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies with diverse managers on staff see a 7 to 18 percent increase in diversity across managerial roles within 5 years.
  • Implement a workforce education program. Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) have extremely limited access to higher education. Business leaders can help to promote equity for underserved employees by providing access to learning and development initiatives through a dedicated workforce education program.

Examples of diversity in the workplace

How to contribute to diversity in the workplace

  • Implement diversity initiatives from the top down. A more diverse C-suite helps to drive diversity throughout the entire organization. The hiring, training and/or development programs you create around DEI should start with your executive leadership team.
  • Integrate DEI into everyday life. Fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive company culture doesn’t happen overnight, but taking steps towards this should be a top priority. Be transparent and communicate openly with your employees about your plans for change.
  • Align the business case with the human case. Don’t lose sight of why diversity matters in the first place. Empowering all of your employees and boosting engagement through a safe, supportive and inclusive work environment should be the primary objective of your efforts. Increasing your bottom line can come later.

How to measure diversity in the workplace

  • Retention. Are your marginalized employees remaining on staff after you’ve hired them? Are they engaged and actively contributing to your organization?
  • Internal mobility. Who is moving up in your company? Which team members are submitting themselves for promotion? Are pay raises happening equitably across all demographics at your company?
  • Talent development. Do your employees feel adequately skilled for their current position? Do they feel they’re being given access to learning opportunities that will help them advance? Are your workforce education programs being utilized to their full potential?

Final thoughts

You can address talent development challenges