Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace has become a priority for most organizations. A diverse and inclusive workplace culture makes organizations more welcoming and open to all, including staff and customers. It is more adaptable, performs better, shows steady revenue growth, and sets a benchmark for its peers.
As per a PwC global diversity and inclusion survey, 75% of respondents believe that diversity is a priority area in their organization. Also, research by Gartner finds that performance in a diverse workforce improves by 12%. Moreover, diverse management increases revenue by 19%, whereas diverse companies have 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee.
While we usually hear ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ in similar contexts, the two terms mean different things. This article explores the benefits of workplace diversity and inclusion and how it affects businesses.
What Is Diversity in the Workplace?
Diversity in the workplace comprises employees of different races, ethnicity, age, gender, physical ability, skills, and other elements that distinguish one person from another. It means that an organization employs a heterogeneous group of people that reflects the society in which it exists and functions. Diversity is about recognizing that each individual has different qualities and mindsets, and they bring valuable perspectives to the workplace.
According to the Equality Act 2010, diversity can be differences in age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, sex, sexual orientation, and religion or belief. However, workplace diversity is more than these legally protected characteristics. It includes both visible and invisible elements such as personality types, economic and cultural backgrounds, approaches to work, and factors that collectively impact the organization.
What Is Inclusion in the Workplace?
Inclusion in the workplace means that every employee’s contribution is recognized and appreciated regardless of diverse backgrounds, personal characteristics, and work styles. An inclusive workplace considers individual differences and the diversity of the workforce so that no one needs to compromise to feel valued.
Naturally, there are many benefits of inclusion in the workplace. An inclusive workplace gives every employee equal access to opportunities, support, and resources. It prioritizes the elimination of discrimination, bias, and harassment, ensuring that every employee feels valued regardless of their individuality and differences.
Benefits of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
For modern companies, building a diverse and inclusive workspace is no longer a mere trend. The benefits of diversity and inclusion are tangible, directly impacting an organization.
Many companies use the phrase “diversity and inclusion” to promote a positive brand image instead of making impactful changes to the company culture. However, implementing a diverse and inclusive mindset within the organization nurtures a more accepting environment for people of varying races, ethnicity, age, gender, education, languages, cultural backgrounds, abilities, sexual orientations, etc.
Below we list the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace that significantly impact businesses in the short and long term.
Greater creativity and innovation
A workplace comprising employees from different backgrounds with varying experiences, skills, and knowledge is abundant in innovative and creative ideas. When such a diverse work environment is inclusive, employees will be more comfortable sharing their opinions and perspectives without feeling apprehensive about discrimination and ridicule. Putting together people with different outlooks results in a pluralistic workplace beaming with fresh and new ideas, helping the organization stand out from peers and expand in the long run.
One of the key benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is that they bring a range of skillsets. When a company hires people from different backgrounds with unique abilities, each brings unique skills that help enhance the business. An inclusive and diverse work environment that recognizes the skills of each individual makes room for broader perspectives in problem-solving, decision-making, and the development of new business ideas. With a bigger pool of skills at its disposal, a company has a richer reserve of expertise and abilities to bank on to reach its goals.
More opportunities for personal and professional growth
Diverse and inclusive companies attract talented, motivated, and ambitious candidates seeking training and learning opportunities for personal and professional growth. One of the benefits of inclusion in the workplace is that employees are more comfortable interacting with colleagues, leading to a widespread exchange of ideas. As employees encounter different cultures and perspectives, it leads to better interpersonal understanding and communication.
Moreover, diversity and inclusion reduce stereotypes and prejudices that hinder organizational growth and progress.
Better decision-making and faster problem-solving
Companies with greater diversity are quicker at problem-solving and making better business decisions. Diverse teams can solve problems faster than people with similar cognitive abilities. Employees coming from different backgrounds have unique experiences and views. Hence, they can offer unique solutions to a problem. In addition, various solutions stemming from different perspectives lead to more efficient and informed decision-making and results.
Greater employee retention
One of the visible benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is reduced employee turnover or enhanced employee retention. Organizations with a diverse workforce are typically more inclusive of individualistic differences and perspectives, making employees feel valued and accepted. When employees feel valued and accepted, they are happier and more content and stay longer with the organization. Thus, a diverse and inclusive workplace boasts of reduced employee turnover rates. It creates a sense of belonging among employees, and they are less likely to leave.
Better employee performance
When employees feel that they belong to their workplace, they can better focus on work instead of feeling uncomfortable about themselves. In other words, diversity and inclusion create a sense of belonging in the workplace, which, in turn, boosts job performance. Employees get the assurance that their workplace respects and values them, motivating them to work harder for the company. On the contrary, employees at a company that does not embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion feel their efforts are unacknowledged and undervalued.
A diverse and inclusive workplace directly impacts productivity. To begin with, diverse teams bring a range of skills and experiences to the table, allowing co-workers to learn from each other and work together. Moreover, a diverse group of individuals working together means that ideas flow freely. Overall, the teamwork and cooperativity that a diverse and inclusive team exhibits play a significant role in boosting productivity and helping the company thrive in a short time. Not just that, such an organization inevitably stands out among competitors that do not have a diverse and inclusive talent pool.
Companies with greater workplace diversity and inclusion achieve higher profits. Since a diverse workforce makes better decisions and is quicker at problem-solving, it gives them a greater advantage over their competitors. Moreover, diversity and inclusion in the workplace boost employee performance and drive productivity, which is eventually reflected in the company’s bottom line. Thus, companies produce improved business results, perform better financially, generate more revenue, and reap more profit.
Positive company reputation
Companies that prioritize building and encouraging a diverse and inclusive culture are perceived as socially responsible and humane. They are seen as progressive and unbiased entities that respect differences. Moreover, diversity in the workplace makes an organization look more authentic. It creates a positive brand image that can make an organization stand out.
Improved relationship with investors and stakeholders
A significant business benefit of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is improved relationships with corporate investors, business partners, and customers. These stakeholders include people from various backgrounds, religious affiliations, ages, and sexual orientations. Thus, their personal outlook and ideologies will strongly impact their decisions involving the company. Investors would prefer to invest in a company that they can relate to. Likewise, customers are more likely to associate with brands that align with their beliefs and ethos. Likewise, customers are more likely to associate with brands that align with their beliefs and ethos.
Better hiring quality
Companies with an inclusive workplace culture have a greater chance of attracting and retaining high-quality candidates. A diverse and inclusive workplace is one of the most desirable qualities for candidates while looking for a new job. Embracing a culture of diversity and inclusion enables a company to recruit from a broader talent pool and supplies more qualified candidates to choose from, making the average talent quality higher. On the contrary, a company’s failure to be inclusive in its hiring practices may eliminate candidates who would have added value to the company.
Workplace diversity and inclusion can take a company’s culture to a whole new level, opening new doors to opportunities, growth, and expansion. Diversity and inclusion are powerful tools for a company’s long-term success. With the manifold benefits of workplace diversity and inclusion, it is time organizations took a proactive stand on promoting a workforce that represents the heterogeneity of modern society.
The benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace are not limited to the bigger organizations. Even small businesses and startups can take proactive steps to acknowledge and value the diversity of their workforce to build an inclusive environment.