According to in-depth research conducted by Forbes, promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace can empower organizations to enjoy up to 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. Inclusive teams, those where each team member feels safe, valued, respected, and encouraged to share their point of view, experience significantly higher performance levels.
Another study conducted by Entrepreneur revealed that businesses with a more diverse management team experience a 19% increase in revenue than their less diverse competitors. The main reason behind it? More diverse teams tend to innovate more and benefit more from different points of view, aligning themselves towards common objectives.
Businesses executives now recognize the value behind diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It’s not just that an inclusive workforce brings about diverse perspectives and viewpoints to an organization. It’s also the fact that inclusive teams better impact a company’s bottom line.
Promoting empathy, vulnerability, and solidarity within each other to foster more inclusive teams can empower organizations to develop more innovative products and become more creative when tackling complex issues. It also unearths new ways to cater to new and existing customers.
Throughout this article, we’ll share some ideas about how managers and leaders can encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Diversity and Inclusion: How are they different?
Before discussing how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we must first understand how they are different. It’s common for people to believe that they are or refer to the same thing. Yet, they are a completely different thing.
For instance, a team can be diverse but not inclusive. A team can also be inclusive but not diverse. To keep their teams happy and productive, managers and leaders need to find a healthy balance between the two.
Diversity has to do with political beliefs, sexual orientation, race, class, religion, culture, and gender identity differences. In simple words, diversity is what makes you… you. Your background, personality, life story, and everything that shapes your worldview refers to diversity.
When applied to the workplace, though, diversity implies that your team consists of individuals from different backgrounds and ethnicity. Ideally, a company’s workforce should reflect the community – making sure there is a proportionate representation of backgrounds within the business.
On the other hand, inclusion has to do with the involvement of every employee in an organization. When each employee feels respected, valued, and treated fairly, you have an inclusive team. Part of creating an inclusive organization includes empowering every employee by recognizing, celebrating, and encouraging their unique talents.
There’s an easy phrase that can help better illustrate the difference between diversity and inclusion: Diversity refers to inviting people to the party. Inclusion, however, is about inviting them to dance. As a leader, ask yourself: are you simply inviting people to the party? Or are you actually making them comfortable enough that they’ll want to have a dance?
Both diversity and inclusion are vitally important. For instance, a diverse but not inclusive team would result in a toxic work culture. And inclusion without diversity can make a company uncreative and stagnant.
Organizations are starting to realize how promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace can empower teams to make bolder decisions, foster a culture of belongingness and trust, and maximize the organization’s performance. Yet, there are many organizations that are still missing out on the opportunities to reap the benefits of inclusive teams. Without any concerted effort towards diversity and inclusion, a company’s workforce will ultimately feel unsupported and, therefore, out of place.
The Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in The Workplace
Any company that makes an effort to cultivate a more diverse workforce will be establishing what Simon Sinek would call a ‘Circle of Safety’ around its culture. A ‘Circle of Safety’ is a deep sense of belonging prevalent within employees founded upon psychological safety.
Studies have proven time and time again that employees that feel connected with their team members at work put in their very best – working smarter, harder, and more diligently, thereby engendering higher quality output. Simon Sinek would even argue that employees would make sacrifices in the form of working longer hours, rejecting higher-paying jobs, and taking more workload for their employers when a ‘Circle of Safety’ is ingrained within the company.
As a result, inclusive organizations will be able to experience significant gains in innovation, financial results, and decision-making.
Here are just some of the benefits of fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace:
- Being able to attract and retain a bigger talent pool.
- Challenging the status-quo by brining in all voices, perspectives, and worldview to the conversation.
- Empowering superior performance from employees.
- Increased employee trust and engagement towards their co-workers and company.
- More robust revenues, productivity, and financial results.
- Reaping the benefits of bolder, more corageous decision-making.
These benefits will enable organizations to thrive both in the short and long term.
How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Now that you are aware of the benefits of diversity and inclusion in an organization, you’ll need a strategy to bring it to life. Here’s a plan on how to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce:
Promote Pay Equity
Managers can level out the playing field by providing fair opportunities and compensation packages to every employee within the organization.
Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce, shares in his book TRAILBLAZER that he discovered that women were earning way less compared to their male counterparts without neither him nor their HR executives being aware of it. Consequently, Benioff took the courageous decision of equalizing the pay gap within the entire organization. The decision wasn’t easy – nor cheap. On the one hand, it exposed his ignorance of the situation as a leader, while on the other, it would’ve cost Salesforce $8.7 million to address and correct the situation. Yet, he did it anyways and publicly shared what happened with his community. The result? Salesforce is consistently named among the top of Fortune’s list of best companies to work for and on People magazine’s list of “Companies That Care.”
Companies can easily leverage analytics in order to pinpoint underpaid employees for similar responsibilities or roles. For instance, people analytics can help managers readily identify pay gaps that exist within a team. This crucial insight can help companies identify trends or patterns that exist where specific groups of employees – e.g., people of color, Asians, etc. – are underpaid within a particular business area.
Always Acknowledge Holidays of All Cultures
One crucial way to foster a more diverse workforce is to be mindful of – and acknowledge – a wide variety of upcoming cultural and religious holidays. Don’t just celebrate the ones that are important to you. Make sure people feel that their culture and traditions are being celebrated as well.
In a team meeting, ask the members about their plans to celebrate their cultural holidays. You can even go to HR and suggest them to monitor and celebrate multicultural holiday celebrations. If you are a manager, always be respectful and honor these days when you schedule meetings, showing flexibility for when special occasions come up for employees of different backgrounds than you.
Mix Up the Teams
A key aspect of diversity is learning and understanding different experiences, cultures, values, and voices. A diverse cross-section of employees or talent allows improved perspective, which ultimately spurs creativity within teams.
If you run a homogenous team, consider inviting someone of a different cultural background, gender, or age to weigh in on a company project or a new initiative.
Diversity within teams positively and dramatically impacts innovation and creativity. The case of inclusivity is growing stronger by the day. And companies are discovering the value of experiences with multiple perspectives. This inspires novel thinking and connects thoughts in brand-new ways, and takes different approaches to solve problems.
Develop Strategic Training Programs
Developing strategic training programs can help employees fully understand how cultural differences impact how people interact and work in the workplace. Fostering learning and growth through training, seminars, and workshops can also empower team members to acknowledge their biases.
Training programs may cover anything from communication styles to concepts of time, self-identity, and dealing with conflict. Research has found that optional diversity training sessions tend to be much more effective than mandatory ones due to the fact that when employees themselves take the initiative to educate themselves on hard topics, intrinsic motivation fuels the output.
Organizations should ensure that such training is relevant to their employees or specific industry. The training must align with not only the organization’s internal challenges, but also with those taking place across the industry. In addition to using internal resources, companies can also partner with consultants to empower leaders to build highly customized training programs that fit the specific needs of both the company and the industry.
Leaders should always communicate clearly why such training is taking place and the issues they are trying to solve and what are the expected outcomes of it. This is crucial as it will enable employees to stay motivated throughout and also help them understand precisely how this training ties back to the broader company objectives.
Track Progress Over an Extended Period of Time
Building and sustaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace is not something that will happen overnight, especially if they were not included when the business first started. It is not news that implementing structural changes to workforce systems and strategies can take several months until desires results are achieved.
Cultural shifts take time. And this means your organization should be ready to set benchmarks and track the progress being made to assess how their efforts are moving – or not moving – the needle. Tracking progress and measuring results will help leaders fully comprehend the strategies that are working and the ones that are falling short to be replaced entirely or improved significantly.
It Makes Sense Financially, Strategically, and Performance and Community-Wise. Why Not Start Today?
The benefits of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace are numerous and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Building a more diverse workforce can set companies up in the right direction and empower them to achieve strong competitive advantage through creativity, growth, innovation, and trust.
An ever-increasing body of evidence suggests that companies that maintain their commitment and values to employees over time continue to thrive. The outcomes are impressive, and the effects on the employees are everlasting.
At Topic Insights, we want to empower leaders to embrace the pursuit of continually bettering themselves to positively impact the people, community, and ecosystems around them. Building inclusive teams take time, effort, and energy – and we want to accompany you throughout the journey.