Can you imagine a work environment where companies expect their employees to perform their best despite facing gender, ethnicity, language, or personal challenges? It is improbable. Inclusion and diversity are crucial in the workplace, which is why they play a vital role. Although awareness of this concept has existed for some time, it wasn’t until the late 1960s that organizations began actively implementing it. Since then, the outcomes have consistently shown improvement. If you are curious about this concept’s origins, evolution, and current status, we invite you to sit back and relax as we explore these aspects in this blog.
What does Inclusion and Diversity signify, and when and how did it begin?
Inclusion and diversity in the workplace encompass assembling diverse individuals who collaborate harmoniously towards a shared objective without subjecting anyone to discriminatory treatment that may undermine their sense of security and hinder their productivity within the designated work environment. The idea was implemented in the late 1960s or early 1970s, although people had discussed it before. The visionary who pioneered the utilization of this approach was considerably ahead of their time.
Subsequently, official initiatives were undertaken by notable organizations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) during the era of the Civil Rights Movement.
Though the precise origins of this concept remain undocumented, there are indications from historical records that it was gradually introduced within organizational settings, each with its distinct approach.
- General Electric (GE) – 1960 – established a diversity task force to address workforce diversity deficiencies.
- IBM – 1970 – Launched “People of Color in Management” diversity program
- Procter & Gamble (P&G) – 1980 – Initiated “Women in Leadership” diversity program.
- AT&T – 1990 – Introduced “Diversity and Inclusion for the 21st Century” diversity program.
Why is it important?
Prioritizing inclusion and diversity in the workplace can yield positive results for organizations. A study conducted by McKinsey & Company has revealed compelling findings that demonstrate the value of such practices. The report indicates that the companies in the top quartile have a 35% higher probability of achieving financial returns than their respective national industry medians. Moreover, organizations strongly committed to inclusion and diversity have reported significant benefits.
- Approximately 70% of these organizations claim to attract and retain top-tier talent more effectively than their counterparts.
- 65% assert that they outperform their competitors in terms of innovation.
- 60% of the organizations state that their employees exhibit higher engagement levels than other entities.
Furthermore, the report establishes a correlation between a firm’s focus on inclusion and diversity and its profitability. Notably, organizations ranked in the top quartile for inclusion and diversity display a 25% greater likelihood of attaining profitability than those in the bottom quartile. These findings underline the compelling business case for prioritizing inclusion and diversity within organizations.
How can you put Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace into Action?
Well, there are many ways how you can implement this strategy to grow your business. Here are some tricks and techniques to skyrocket your current results into something massive.
1. Assessing Your Executive Team
The composition of your executive team serves as a significant indicator of your entire workforce, reflecting the values and principles of your organization. It is, therefore, crucial to cultivate a diverse top management team encompassing gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. Are both men and women adequately represented? Are individuals from various cultural and religious backgrounds given opportunities?
The following infographic shows the population of Fortune 500 CEO’s.
While exerting direct control over the composition of your executive team may be limited, it is imperative that you advocate for diversity and inclusion in the C-suite, should the opportunity arise. Additionally, you can foster authentic and transparent communication between your executives and employees, attracting diverse talents to your organization.
2. Recognizing and Respecting Diverse Religious and Cultural Practices
Establishing an all-encompassing organizational culture holds immense significance in ensuring the success of diversity endeavors and yielding substantial employee engagement and productivity benefits. A viable approach to fostering inclusivity involves according to due recognition and respect for diverse holidays and celebrations. Forbes recommends that organizations use a separate refrigerator to store Kosher food items.
Moreover, while certain companies traditionally observe Christmas Day as a designated holiday, a growing number now offer flexible floating holidays to accommodate the religious preferences of their entire workforce. Cultivating an environment where employees perceive their organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion can lead to enhanced employee retention, thereby offering tangible advantages to the company.
3. Initiating a Discussion on Gender Pay Disparity
Gender pay disparity remains a controversial issue in numerous organizations. Establishing trust and fostering inclusivity within the workforce depend on a company’s transparency regarding its policies and effective communication about them. In cases where gender pay imbalances exist, it is essential to create open channels of communication that enable employees to express their thoughts and opinions.
Furthermore, it is crucial to articulate the company’s current or future strategies for rectifying the gap, ensuring employees feel reassured by the organization’s commitment to addressing gender pay inequality actively.
- When presenting data related to such policies, it is imperative to refrain from adopting a defensive stance.
- When the data appears biased due to various factors like disparities between maternity and untaken paternity leave, it is vital to provide a straightforward and clear explanation to employees.
4. Promoting Inclusive Thinking for Enhanced Diversity
By actively pursuing diverse hiring practices, your company can foster a culture that embraces diverse thinking and benefits from culturally varied perspectives. However, achieving lasting impact requires more than just assembling a diverse workforce; it necessitates a comprehensive approach to inclusivity.
It is important to acknowledge that people from different backgrounds and age groups may have differing perspectives on workplace issues such as dress code, email etiquette, evaluations, and participation in meetings. Thus, understanding thinking patterns is important at an individual level and crucial for teams, departments, and the entire organization to comprehend how others feel.
By embracing diverse thinking, your company can harness a multitude of ideas and receive valuable feedback, all while cultivating an environment where everyone feels valued and connected to a shared mission.
5. Establishing a Multigenerational Workforce: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion
In the current employment landscape, the millennial generation constitutes the predominant portion of the workforce. Creating an inclusive environment that values diversity requires building a team that welcomes individuals from different age groups. It’s important to note that people born from 1981 onward, often viewed as tech-savvy, belong to the millennial generation. Consequently, older millennials may possess a different level of proficiency with technology tools than their younger counterparts.
This discrepancy becomes apparent in communication practices within organizations. Some employees are more inclined towards utilizing social media platforms or group chat functionalities, while individuals from older generations may exhibit a more reserved attitude towards embracing such communication channels.
Communication professionals should consider investing in a comprehensive workforce communications platform to address this issue. Such a platform would facilitate the seamless creation and dissemination of messages through channels preferred by employees. By adopting this approach, communicators can effectively tailor their messages to resonate with individuals from all generations and encourage active engagement.
Deloitte’s research reveals that over 80% of millennials experience a heightened sense of engagement with their work when their employers foster a genuinely diverse workplace culture.
How is it going, and what are the outcomes?
Based on a survey conducted by Deloitte, a significant majority of employees, amounting to 82%, recognize the significance of diversity and inclusion in contributing to their organization’s overall success.
Furthermore, the World Economic Forum conducted a study revealing that companies with diverse leadership teams are more inclined to foster innovation and yield greater profitability. However, the current state of affairs in the United States indicates a substantial gap between the workforce composition and executive-level positions held by certain demographic groups.
Source: Boston Consulting Group
Benefits of Diversity:
- Companies with diverse management teams have a 35% higher likelihood of achieving financial performance that surpasses the industry average.
- Diverse teams are more innovative and creative.
- Diverse teams are better at understanding and serving customers from different backgrounds.
In conclusion, promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace is crucial for ethical reasons and strategic advantages. Embracing diverse perspectives and experiences fosters innovation, employee engagement, and stronger relationships with customers and communities. By prioritizing inclusive practices, organizations create environments where individuals can flourish and make maximum contributions driving sustainable business success.
1. What is inclusion and diversity in the workplace?
Diversity encompasses the range of differences present among individuals, such as their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, and other personal characteristics. Inclusion refers to the practice of creating a workplace environment where everyone feels welcomed, respected, and valued, regardless of their differences.
2. How can I be an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
There are many ways that you can be an advocate for inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Some of these include:
- Talk to your colleagues about the importance of diversity and inclusion.
- Speak up when you see or hear something discriminatory or offensive.
- Get involved in your organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- Support for organizations that promote diversity and inclusion
3. What are some resources for learning more about diversity and inclusion?
There are a number of resources available to help you learn more about diversity and inclusion. Some of these include:
- The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM offers a variety of resources on diversity and inclusion, including articles, webinars, and training programs.
- The Diversity and Inclusion Council. The Diversity and Inclusion Council is a non-profit organization that provides resources and training on diversity and inclusion.
- The National Diversity Council is a non-profit organization that supports diversity and inclusion in the workplace.