What Is Diversity and How Does It Impact the Workplace?

July 15, 2020
3 Min Read
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Diversity and inclusion cannot be put on the back-burner anymore. The one-and-done diversity hires and seminars don't cut it anymore. And let's be honest, they never have. We need to do more for our employees, our companies, and our society. The impact of diversity in the workplace is increased productivity, happier employees, and a culture of innovation.

Before we jump into workplace diversity, take a peek at our inclusiveness skill guide. It includes examples of inclusive companies, the do's and don'ts of an inclusive workplace, and the positive impact of workforce diversity.

Diversity definition

Diversity can be described as differences in race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. But cultural diversity is multi-dimensional. Diversity also includes gender, language, culture, social roles, sexual orientation, education, income, and other cultural differences.

So, what is an inclusive culture in the workplace? The idea is that a diverse organization relies on the diverse viewpoints and culture within their own teams. Diversity in the workplace can look like hiring diverse talent, culturally inclusive holidays off, safe spaces for cultural differences, diversity training and continued employee education, learning resources, and a company culture that's focused on D&I.

Why is diversity important?

Diversity gives us the opportunity to seek out new experiences and ideas. It introduces us to various individuals and unique perspectives that you may not have known existed. It's cultural competence that allows healthy dialogue and opens the door for creativity to flow. Ultimately, the true value of diversity lies in making our communities feel comfortable and represented.

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.

- Verna Myers, diversity and inclusion expert

In terms of the organization, prioritizing diversity also yields better financial performance. According to a 2018 Brookings Institute study, the U.S. is projected to be a minority-majority country by 2045. That means in order for businesses to be truly successful in catering to their customer base, their employees must reflect their customer base.

Misconceptions of diversity and inclusion

Have you ever noticed how diversity and inclusion are sometimes used interchangeably? Let's break this down:

  • Diversity: Differences amongst us all.
  • Inclusion: The act of welcoming diversity.

Inclusion is when every single person in the community is respected, empowered, and truly feels a sense of belonging. It goes beyond tolerance. It's about celebrating every person in the room.

This is how both diversity and inclusion work hand-in-hand: We actively seek diverse representation. Then, we focus on making sure all those voices feel heard and valued. In short, diversity is numbers-driven and can be mandated, while inclusion is about impact.

How to start the D&I conversation at work

Approaching your fellow colleagues about diversity and inclusion or starting a workplace diversity initiative can be tough. Don't worry, we've compiled the top 4 questions to get the diversity and inclusion conversation started at your company.

  1. Have you faced obstacles in your career that are not experienced by your colleagues?
  2. At work, do you feel comfortable being yourself?
  3. Do you feel valued and an essential part of your team?
  4. Have you faced or witnessed prejudice or discrimination in the workplace?
  5. What could leadership do to better support you?

It's important to note that discussing greater diversity and inclusion differs from company to company. Tailor your questions to your work environment and draw on specific examples that relate to your peers.

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