What is diversity in the workplace?
A diverse workplace is reflective of the population and inclusive of people of different races, ages, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses and abilities. The greater the number of differences represented within an organization, the more diverse it becomes.
Creating a diverse workplace often requires evaluating and improving hiring and recruiting practices as well as your company culture. To retain diverse employees, you must ensure your organizational culture is inclusive, non-judgemental and values different backgrounds and ideas.
What are the benefits of diversity in the workplace?
Employers that are successful in building a diverse workforce and keeping diverse employees engaged enjoy many advantages.
Here are just a few of the benefits of workplace diversity:
- Access to a larger talent pool
Building a diverse workforce can assist your organization in attracting more top talent. Many professionals consider diversity when evaluating an employer, and are more likely to apply to jobs with companies where people from a variety of backgrounds and abilities are represented. When you already have a diverse and inclusive workforce, it will be easier to recruit and retain other diverse employees.
- Increased revenue
Organizations that have a more diverse workforce benefit from the perspectives and opinions of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds when developing and marketing products and services. This helps your business appeal to a broader market, which in turn can increase brand exposure and drive profits.
- More innovative ideas
The more diverse your team, the greater the variety of worldviews and ideas. When your organization employs diverse professionals who each bring a different approach to tackling a challenge, you’re more likely to reach a more creative solution. This can help your organization outperform competitors who don’t have the benefit of a diverse workforce population.
- Improved brand reputation
Organizations that focus on diversity by consciously hiring and supporting people of different backgrounds and abilities achieve a more positive brand reputation and are better prepared to attract and service customers on a global level.
How to create more workplace diversity in your organization
Building a more diverse workplace takes time and requires a commitment from your entire workforce. To retain diverse employees long-term, you need to make sure your organizational culture is open, accepting of others, and aware of prejudices and how to avoid them.
Here are a few steps you can take to drive more workplace diversity:
- Educate leaders
Managers and others in leadership positions have a significant amount of influence over your organization’s hiring decisions and culture. To foster diversity, it’s critical you train them on what it workplace diversity means, the advantages it provides and the strategies you need to adopt to achieve your diversity goals. Leaders should be aware of the behaviors that threaten diversity so they can quickly identify and eliminate those behaviors within their teams and departments.
- Address unconscious bias
It’s helpful to develop a training program to tackle unconscious bias, which is when people judge others based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation and other factors without realizing. By discussing and working to eliminate unconscious bias within your organization, you can begin to overcome barriers to inclusion and help people become more aware of their behaviors.
- Celebrate differences
One of the keys to retaining a diverse workforce is to help ensure employees feel recognized and represented. Instead of ignoring the differences among employees, take time to celebrate different backgrounds, traditions and needs. This can include everything from hosting a team potluck where each employee brings in a dish that represents their background and culture, to creating a non-denominational prayer and meditation room.
- Gather employee feedback
Take time to survey your employees to determine how well you’re doing in creating a more diverse and accepting culture. It’s helpful to survey your workforce at least once per year so you can evaluate whether you’re successful in bringing more diversity to your organization.
Here is a sample employee engagement survey:
Rank the following statements from 1 to 5 with one being “I strongly agree” and five being “I strongly disagree.”
- This is a diverse workplace.
- The leadership team is committed to embracing diversity.
- A wide variety of backgrounds and abilities are represented within this organization.
- A wide variety of backgrounds and abilities are represented within my team.
- I understand unconscious bias and its impact on company culture.
- I understand the value of having a diverse workplace.
- I feel this organization’s hiring and recruiting practices embrace diversity.
- I have witnessed prejudice or discrimination in this organization.
- I have been a victim of prejudice or discrimination in this organization.
- This organization’s policies discourage prejudice and discrimination.
Workplace diversity helps bring new insights, perspective and ideas to your organization, which improves employee engagement and provides a competitive advantage for your organization. By making an effort to increase the number of backgrounds and abilities represented in your workplace, and developing a culture that supports and celebrates diversity, your business will thrive.