Diversity. Inclusion. These buzzwords are a hot topic today. But what do they mean? And why are they important in the workplace?
Let’s find out.
Workplace diversity is a term that describes a workplace comprised of employees from various backgrounds. These backgrounds include sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
Diversity can be surface-level or deep-level.
Surface-level diversity is the physical characteristics or traits of a workplace. Think about a person’s race, age, sex, disability, or body size. On the other hand, deep-level diversity includes intangible characteristics, such as personalities, attitudes, values, or even religious beliefs—aspects of a person’s identity that you cannot see.
True diversity and inclusion must be deep-level to be effective (and bring about the benefits mentioned in this guide). Perceived diversity can sometimes perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices, whereas deep-level diversity builds understanding and tolerance.
For employers, workplace diversity gives you access to a deeper talent pool—it is not restricted to specific groups. It creates a more engaged and productive workforce that makes employees feel recognised and respected.
It also makes good business sense as workplace diversity meets compliance requirements and has substantial benefits.
Research suggests that diversity and inclusion lead to a more ingenious and experimental workplace. People bring their backgrounds and experiences with them, which leads to better idea generation and fresher perspectives—all of which lead to more novel concepts.
For example, research by the Victorian Equal Opportunity Rights Commission and Deloitte found that employees were 83% more likely to be innovative if they felt included and supported.
This is more apparent in face-to-face teams and when tasks depend on each other. Knowledge and idea sharing and integration become more accessible when diverse voices and thinking are present, leading to several original ideas rather than a single, uninspired one.
Research by the Victorian Equal Opportunity Human Rights Commission and Deloitte found that diversity and inclusion led to better business performance. More diversity and inclusion led to happier employees and better productivity and performance.
Employees felt included and supported when diversity was recognised and celebrated. They were more likely to be more present at work (thereby reducing absenteeism), performed better (in terms of sales revenues, market shares, number of customers, etc.), and were more collaborative.
Due to increased creativity and innovation, diverse teams are also 87% better at making decisions than homogeneous teams.
Teamwork is a critical driver in making better decisions, as research shows teams perform better in decision-making than individuals. It may seem contradictory to say this, given that different ideas could lead to a clash of opinion.
However, different perspectives explored all sides of an argument, which led to a more holistic view—and, ultimately, a better decision.
According to the Diversity Council of Australia, employees are three times less likely to leave their employer or look for another job because diverse workplaces make them feel safer and more secure.
Retention improved because employees reported being more satisfied with their work overall, almost five times more likely than their counterparts in non-inclusive organisations.
Diversity and inclusion offered employees various physical and mental health benefits.
Evidence from the Productivity Commission demonstrated preventing race-based discrimination reduces rates of poor wellbeing, particularly anxiety, depression, stress, and quality of life.
Less diverse workplaces were seen to have more negative effects on employee health, with employees more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours to cope, such as smoking, alcoholism, or drugs.
You’re probably asking yourself: How do I go about promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace? What can I do to improve the workplace?
The right training can go a long way. etrainu’s Cultural Awareness Bundle provides holistic training to meet any needs. It covers a variety of topics, from LGBTIQ to Racial Sensitivity—the perfect solution to foster a more culturally aware workforce.
If you’re also interested, take our Cultural Awareness Quiz!
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