The pressure to increase diversity in the workplace continues to rise across sectors and is a prime focus for business leaders around the globe.
What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?
Diversity in the workplace encompasses many dimensions, including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability and sexual orientation; it can also include differing personality characteristics, thinking styles, experiences and education levels.
Inclusion means that the organisational culture and practices make employees of diverse backgrounds feel welcome, accepted and treated equally.
Numerous studies have shown that cultivating diversity and inclusivity in the workplace makes good business sense. For example, McKinsey’s workplace diversity study, "Delivering Through Diversity", found that companies whose executive teams rank in the top 25% of racial and ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to reap financial returns above the national median for their industry. Diversity has also been shown to be a key driver of innovation, creativity and productivity.
Attracting and retaining top talent
Most importantly for HR professionals and recruiters, a diverse and inclusive workplace is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. Candidates are drawn to diverse organisations because it signals that the employer values people's differences and treats their staff equally. When it comes to retention, a culture of inclusion will make top talent feel valued, heard and understood.
Diversity is particularly important to younger employees. A 2019 survey by U.S. consultancy John Zogby Strategies found that 51% of millennials and generation Z agree that a "fair representation of race, ethnicity and religion is paramount to creating the ideal workplace." Forty-eight percent of generation X (40-54) and 42% of baby boomers agree with that statement.
The path to diversity and inclusion
Companies that have invested in diversity and inclusion over the years are reaping the rewards. The path to diversity and inclusion starts with moving it from an HR initiative to a business strategy. While this strategy may look different at every company, the key elements are:
- C-suite support.
- Employee commitment and collaboration.
- Improving diversity in recruitment.
- Fostering inclusiveness in the workplace.
Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is no easy feat but it's clear that this is the way forward. How you screen and source talent, conduct interviews and onboard new employees are all opportunities to integrate diversity into your processes. Put simply, the companies that do this well will outperform others as recognised workplaces of choice among top talent.