Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at work can often be contentious in today’s political climate, yet most employed Americans believe workplaces should focus on these issues.
From a business perspective, diversity is vital as it allows companies to tap into an expanded pool of talent while also improving employee morale and productivity.
1. Diversity in Leadership
Although organizations are making efforts to prioritise diversity when hiring new staff members, this doesn’t always translate to equitable representation among management levels and employees aren’t receiving full recognition for their contributions. Thus, having diverse leadership teams is crucial in creating an environment of inclusion across an entire organization and providing equal chances for all employees to thrive and reach success.
Diversity in leadership involves making sure that your company’s senior management consists of individuals from varying backgrounds, experiences and identities – such as women, minorities, individuals with disabilities or LGBTQ individuals. Diverse leaders possess greater cultural knowledge that equips them to lead in an inclusive manner while serving as role models to other employees by showing how effective leaders should behave when leading all types of people.
Leaders committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion go well beyond hiring women or minorities for executive positions. True inclusion requires an unwavering belief in everyone having their place within the business without regard for factors such as race, gender, age, religion, political ideology, sexual orientation or socio-economic status (Queensborough Community College CUNY, undated).
An effective diverse leadership team must not simply hire people with similar looks or interests – rather, it should embrace diversity from its workers up through to senior executives.
Establishing a diversity-inclusive culture starts with leadership teams, with each member seeking feedback from employees regarding areas for improvement and what can be done to fill any gaps that exist in creating an encompassing and supportive work environment that benefits all of its employees.
Companies with diverse and inclusive leadership teams experience significant positive effects on their bottom lines, as valued employees tend to remain with their companies longer and contribute toward its success. Furthermore, research demonstrates that companies in the top quartile of gender and ethnic diversity at executive level are 21% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile.
2. Diversity in Management
Experience, background, or culture that differs from that of most is of great significance in discussions, projects, and decisions. Diverse employees offer new perspectives that can spark creativity on teams while opening doors for further growth opportunities.
Goal of Inclusive Environment Creation The goal is to foster an environment in which it is safe for everyone to contribute their unique perspectives, ideas and skills to work groups and initiatives. However, creating such an inclusive environment is no simple task, with many organizations misunderstand what diversity means exactly. Jacob Morgan of The Employee Experience Advantage defines it as: being aware and appreciating differences in voices, experiences, values and cultures throughout an organization or its communities.” In addition to acknowledging different backgrounds and cultures within an organization or its communities; truly diverse companies pay attention to things such as economic status immigration status status or neurodivergence among other considerations.
In 2019, most workers believe that prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion at work is beneficial, although opinions vary depending on demographic and partisan lines; women are more likely than men to see it as beneficial; nevertheless, both genders generally concur on this as an important workplace priority.
Diversity at work has an undeniable correlation to business success. Teams that incorporate more diversity across race, gender and age tend to outperform those that lack these elements – one study concluded that gender-diverse companies in the top-quartile were 25% more profitable than their counterparts in the bottom quartile of any category.
Key to creating an environment that welcomes and includes people of different experiences and viewpoints is training managers to recognize their own cultural biases and prejudices, and ensure they don’t engage in discriminatory behaviors by implementing zero tolerance policies for bias or harassment.
Awareness of unconscious biases among humans is also critical. Establishing an inclusive working environment with a strong emphasis on diversity goes beyond being just moral or fairness-based – it is absolutely critical for company growth and recruitment efforts.
3. Diversity in Compensation
Recent calls for social reform have become more urgent and widespread across sectors, including business. Investors and the media have increased pressure on companies to take measurable actions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Many boards are exploring methods of linking DEI metrics with executive pay; this requires careful thought to ensure any such initiatives don’t create unintended consequences or undermine an organization’s wider commitment to DEI.
In order to thrive in today’s rapidly evolving workplace, having a workforce that represents our customers’ diversity is of utmost importance. Diverse enterprises tend to be more innovative, which enables them to better meet customers’ evolving needs and anticipate any disruptions that might occur in service delivery. Gender diverse organizations tend to outperform those that lack diversity while diversity across age groups, nationality, and other demographics is continuing to become an imperative.
Gen Z and millennial workers bring fresh perspectives to the workplace and are likely to seek employment with companies with strong diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Gen Z workers not only want an environment in which they can grow personally but also want to help shape and support their local communities – according to a recent Intel study, 56 percent of Generation Z respondents would decline a job offer from an organization without diversity in leadership positions.
Companies looking to attract this generation should make their DEI goals more transparent and clear, such as including them as part of senior executives’ short-term incentive plan. Edison International did this as part of their 2020 short-term incentive plan by listing “Diversity, People & Culture” as a 10% weighted metric under short-term incentive plans; furthermore they outline specific goals within this metric while disclosing actual results rather than simply noting an increase in women and people of color among leadership teams.
While it is crucial to establish clear diversity and inclusion goals for an organization, employees also need to feel included. A diversity and inclusion committee is one effective tool that can foster an environment in which employees feel they belong; other methods may include giving employees opportunities for feedback or providing reverse mentoring so leaders can learn from underrepresented employees.
4. Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity in the workplace refers to the demographic makeup of a company’s workforce in terms of gender, race, age, professional background and sexual orientation. A diverse work environment fosters various perspectives which help improve products and services while simultaneously drawing talent and building loyal employees. But diversity can only truly benefit if both management teams and company culture embrace differing viewpoints; otherwise it will fail to facilitate any form of diversity (Esty et al 1995).
Companies seeking to be truly inclusive must possess an in-depth knowledge of diversity and its manifestation in the workplace. This means recognizing cultural holidays, acknowledging differences in religious beliefs, encouraging open dialogues between employees, addressing any bias or discrimination and actively combatting any instances of bias or discrimination in the workplace. Furthermore, diversity does not simply refer to those belonging to certain races, religions, gender or sexual orientation but how those identities intersect – for instance Black women who identify as LGBTQ may face discrimination both because of their gender and sexual orientation respectively.
Establishing an inclusive workplace environment requires continuous effort. To be successful, companies must focus on making everyone feel that their voices and contributions are respected; one way this can be accomplished is through training on unconscious bias as well as creating a Diversity Council to oversee goal setting, hiring decisions and employee development activities.
Although most workers say their company places high importance on diversity, equity and inclusion (56%) there is still room for improvement. Workers would like more emphasis placed on making sure all workers are represented equally, improving physical accessibility of workplace facilities, as well as having training on managing diverse teams (Black Enterprise 2002). Furthermore, companies must teach leaders that diversity does not simply refer to specific groups but rather each individual being unique who may or may not represent an entire group (Esty et al 1995).