Workplace diversity has become the standard for excellence for companies nationwide. And as ethnic, racial, socio-economic, and gender demographics continue to shift in the U.S., it’s more important than ever for companies to implement diversity protocols in hiring staff and management. However, for many employers, the phrase “workplace diversity” can lead to confusion as businesses grapple with its implications and relevance in their industries. Businesses eager to thrive and embrace workplace diversity may be unclear about what it actually entails, how it relates to workplace inclusion, and how to create a company culture that embraces both.
In this article, we’ll explore the all-important questions of what workplace diversity is, how it affects your business, and how you can create a genuinely diverse, inclusive workplace.
Defining Workplace Diversity
The U.S. government’s Non-Discrimination Statement and Policy makes this clear and powerful statement: “The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.” This covers much ground, and leaves little room for misinterpretation in doing so. In this way, the statement captures the heart of diversity: A group of people who reflect the whole of the society where they live and work.
As is clear from this definition, diversity and inclusivity aren’t just about markers such as race, ethnicity, and gender. They also involve gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, military status or service, socio-economic background, marital status, political affiliations, levels of ability/disability, and other factors that can lead to discrimination.
While real strides have been made to create greater workplace diversity in recent years, studies show that it’s still not enough. A recent report from accountant firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that, while 87 percent of organizations participating in their survey believed that inclusion and diversity were top priorities, only 10 percent of them had met company goals in this area.
Are Diversity and Inclusion the Same Thing?
The terms “diversity” and “inclusion” are sometimes, and erroneously, used interchangeably. While the terms go hand-in-hand, each has its own distinct and vital place in the workforce. And for diversity and inclusion to reach their greatest potential, employers must understand how these words are different and why companies should focus on both.
Essentially, the word “diversity” indicates the workforce makeup, while “inclusion” refers to the steps and actions being taken to ensure that diversity grows and prospers within the workplace. Inclusion is the result when diversity is successfully implemented and optimized. When diversity exists without inclusion, this can produce a workplace where people from various ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, and abilities are employed, but may not be granted promotions or equal opportunities to work to their full potential in the company. In a truly diverse working environment that encourages inclusion, everyone’s contribution is enabled, utilized, and valued equally.
Creating an Inclusive Workplace
Here are several hiring strategies that can help you create a genuinely inclusive workplace:
- Use software tools that test job candidate skills anonymously.
A number of software tools, including Vervoe and Toggle Hire, allow you to appraise a candidate’s skills and eligibility without identifying their name, age, race, or ethnicity. Other tools like Predictive Index help reveal diversity gaps within your company and fill these gaps with qualified individuals.
- Create job descriptions with inclusive language.
Your job descriptions should make it crystal clear that everyone will be equally evaluated and, if hired, will be given equal opportunities within the role.
- Include minority groups in your marketing and advertising.
Target your hiring ads so they’ll reach people in minority groups. In addition, you can seek out culturally diverse candidates through sites like LinkedIn.
- Get advice from minority organizations.
Partner with minority organizations in your community and regularly consult with them on how to make your workplace not only more diverse but more inclusive as well.
A Diverse Workplace Makes for a Successful Business
The advantages of greater workplace diversity and inclusion are already well-documented. A recent report from tech talent provider Built In indicates that 48 percent of the Generation Z population identifies as a racial or ethnic minority. For companies to stay relevant and competitive, it’s essential to fulfill workplace diversity standards to attract and retain vital new talent. The report also highlights that employers who implement diversity protocols in staff and management typically see a 2.3 greater cash flow per employee. Likewise, a study from the Harvard Business Review shows that these businesses generally see a 19 percent increase in revenues.
“Diversity is a wide umbrella, “says Dover Solutions founder Sanquinetta Maria Dover, “and the more we recognize the breadth and scope of what a truly diverse workplace is, the greater the advantage to our businesses and our communities.” As a proponent of diversity and inclusion, Ms. Dover leads her organization in helping employers embrace inclusive hiring practices, and employees advance their skills to connect with greater opportunities.
Contact DoverSolutions to learn more about our innovative human capital management consultation services, staffing services, and training opportunities. And be sure to read our next article in this series, where we’ll talk about the many ways employers can benefit by hiring and retaining a diverse workforce.