Cultural movements such as MeToo and Black Lives Matter highlighted some of the inequalities and injustices our society faces. This helped diversity and inclusion in the workplace get the attention it deserves. Companies could no longer simply have diversity and inclusion policies in place to tick the right boxes; they needed to readdress how to promote diversity and inclusion to earn a deeper trust and commitment from their current and future employees. 

Companies that develop a genuinely diverse and inclusive culture are twice as likely to beat financial targets and six times more likely to be innovative and agile. More importantly, the feeling of support that people get when businesses celebrate individual differences and value unique & varying perspectives is the true significance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are important values to instill into any company culture. If you have one without the other, you’ll be missing out on achieving the full potential of your business and you’ll struggle to hold on to talent who feel undervalued.

Workplace diversity is achieved when a company is filled with employees from a variety of backgrounds and a wide range of experiences. A diverse workforce should be open to people from all sexes, genders, races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. As well as people from different industries, educational upbringing and lifestyles.

An inclusive working environment is where all employees feel a sense of belonging and that their opinions matter, regardless of their experience, identity or upbringing. Inclusive workplaces should make employees feel involved and supported in all areas of the workplace. From being listened to in meetings to social events and from equal opportunities to access to staff benefits. An inclusive workplace does all of this and more to make its employees feel equally valued – whoever they are.

Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.


What are the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

It’s easy to see how companies thrive when they create a culture of authentic diversity and inclusion. Yes, it’s the right thing to do but it’s also the smart thing to do. Now, more than 75% of organisations recognise the advantages of prioritising diversity and inclusion within their business. So, what are the benefits it can unlock.

1. More innovation and creativity

There’s no doubt that companies that can innovate effectively with creative solutions to market problems will gain a significant competitive advantage. Organisations should recognise that a diverse workforce with a range of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds is vital for innovation and the ability to come up with fresh and exciting ideas. Companies that create an inclusive culture where all employees feel comfortable sharing ideas will benefit the most. 

2. Diversity creates a greater depth and range of skills

A heterogeneous workforce that includes people from all walks of life will allow a business to build a workforce with a greater depth and range of skills. Being able to tap into a team with a breadth of knowledge and a wide range of talents will enhance performance in brainstorms, problem-solving and coming up with new ideas. Employing people with a range of skills means that a business is better equipped to deal with new challenges and opportunities as they grow.

3. Valued employees are happy employees

And happy employees are more productive employees! A new study from Warick University that was published in June 2021 found that happiness made people around 12% more productive. So, when people from different industries, backgrounds and identities come together in a space where they feel valued and supported, happiness and productivity will increase. An inclusive environment will allow employees to thrive which will help the business to thrive also.

4. Understand customers better

An organization’s customer base is very rarely a homogenous group. Just like a diverse workspace, customers are made up of people from a variety of sexes, genders, races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. So, if a company doesn’t have representation of people from different backgrounds they will struggle to ever truly understand their customers or expand into new markets. If employees have a similar background to the customer, it will be easier to come up with ideas to promote the business effectively. Thus, diversity and inclusion in the workplace will most likely make campaigns and projects more productive and more effective.

5. More talent to choose from

This last point may seem obvious but it’s important to highlight. If a business is open to looking past strict requirements on level of education, industry experience and where somebody comes from, the talent pool available to them expands dramatically. A larger talent pool means that recruiters can focus on the skills and perspectives a person can bring to the business, not just the credentials they may hold. 

How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

A diverse and inclusive workplace will improve employee satisfaction, produce more innovation & creativity and help the business perform better across the board. All of this combined ultimately leads to higher revenues. So, the benefits of diversity and inclusion make it a no-brainer for any organization, but how can you promote a diverse and inclusive culture and manage it effectively?

Here are some things to think about…

  • Diversity and inclusion should be an ongoing effort – not just one-off events.
  • Identify ways to help staff feel valued and included – how can you make meetings, social events, business communications and the overall work environment more inclusive? Every employee should feel like their voice is welcome, heard and respected.
  • Ensure that employees have equal opportunities to learn, grow and progress – an organization that has 50% female staff but 0% female management has failed on the inclusivity part of the equation.
  • Find out how employees feel – listening to what your employees have to say about diversity and inclusion within your organization will help you highlight the most important areas to address. Employee satisfaction surveys are a great way to gather this type of data.
  • Encourage leaders to talk about diversity and inclusion – when leaders talk directly to employees about D&I in meetings or one-to-ones, an employee’s sense of belonging increases by up to 225%. It’s much better than a monthly email and creating an open dialogue between employees and leadership about diversity and inclusion issues will help resolve them much quicker.
  • Acknowledge and honour religious and cultural practices – find ways to make people from all religious backgrounds feel valued and respected. It might be offering flexible holidays so that someone can take a day off on Eid al-Fitr instead of Christmas – or better yet, both!
  • Strengthen anti-discriminatory policies and hold leaders accountable – instead of just saying you don’t tolerate discrimination and hate speech put clear policies in place that outline what is and isn’t acceptable within the workplace. Furthermore, it’s important to hold leaders accountable to make sure they enforce the policies. Superficial policies that aren’t enforced will do nothing to make a diverse workforce feel supported.

Final thoughts on diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Businesses that successfully build an inclusive and diverse working environment will benefit from a more productive, happier and creative workforce. Research has shown that it will result in a business meeting and possibly exceeding any financial objectives. 

To achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace, businesses will have to encourage leadership to speak openly about D&I efforts and to create and enforce effective policies such as recruiting with D&I in mind.