Diversity and inclusion are two related but distinct concepts in the workplace. While both are important, they have different meanings and implications for employees and business organizations.
Diversity in the workplace refers to the differences among employees, including but not limited to age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disabilities. It is about recognizing and valuing employee differences and creating an environment where everyone feels respected and included.
On the other hand, inclusion refers to the extent to which all employees feel valued, respected, and included in the workplace. Inclusion creates an environment where everyone feels welcome, supported, and encouraged to participate and contribute. Inclusive workplaces are those where employees feel that they belong, are given decision-making opportunities, are allowed to express themselves freely, and have equal opportunities to succeed.
The following article explores the differences between diversity and inclusion and the reasons for having a diverse and inclusive workplace.
What Differentiates Diversity From An Inclusive Workplace?
Diversity and inclusion are becoming significant focus areas for several businesses. In a survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2017, 87% of their employees opted for diversity as a primary focus of their business.
Although diversity and inclusion are interconnected concepts, there are several distinct differences between the two, as clearly shown below;
- Diversity is about recognizing and valuing differences, while inclusion creates an environment where everyone feels valued and included.
- Diversity is about representation, while inclusion is about participation and engagement.
- Diversity is a characteristic of the workforce, while inclusion is a characteristic of the workplace culture.
- Diversity is about numbers, while inclusion is about attitudes, behaviors, and practices.
Why Are Diversity And Inclusion Important To Businesses?
Research has proven that diversity and inclusion have distinct purposes for businesses. They are essential for creating a positive and productive workplace culture.
Researchers found that when businesses have a diverse and inclusive workforce;
- Their revenue growth increases.
- There is tremendous enthusiasm to innovate, express thoughts and share in decision-making.
- Employee retention increases 5,4 times higher.
Here are a few additional reasons why inclusion and diversity are essential to businesses:
- Diversity can bring a range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the workplace, which leads to more creative problem-solving, better decision-making, and innovation.
- Inclusion can increase employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention. Valued employees who feel included are more likely to be committed to their work and the organization’s mission.
- Diversity and inclusion can attract and retain top talent from diverse backgrounds. In today’s competitive job market, companies that embrace diversity and inclusion are more likely to attract the best and brightest employees.
- Diversity and inclusion can help organizations better serve their diverse customer base. By understanding and respecting different cultural norms and practices, companies can provide their customers with more effective and relevant products and services.
How Can Businesses Promote Inclusion And Diversity In The Workplace?
Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace takes diligence, commitment, and a deliberate effort to make a change. It is not achieved overnight but will take time, understanding, and patience from all involved.
Here are a few strategies businesses can adopt to implement a good inclusion and diverse workplace.
- Implement fair and equitable hiring practices that evaluate all candidates based on their skills, experience, and qualifications rather than their demographic characteristics.
- Provide diversity and inclusion training to all employees to help them understand the value of diversity and how to create an inclusive workplace.
- Foster employee resource groups (ERGs) that allow employees to connect with others who share their backgrounds or interests. ERGs can also provide valuable feedback to the organization on improving diversity and inclusivity.
- Offer flexible work arrangements, like telecommuting, work-from-home options, or flexible schedules, to help attract and retain diverse employees with unique needs or responsibilities outside of work.
- Provide cultural competency training to help employees understand different cultural norms and practices. This goes a long way to helping employees understand and appreciate the perspectives and experiences of their colleagues from different backgrounds.
Diversity and inclusion are related but distinct concepts in the workplace. Diversity is about recognizing and valuing differences, while inclusion creates an environment where everyone feels valued and included. Both diversity and inclusion are essential for creating a positive and productive workplace culture.