Here’s something to think about: according to a study by the Harvard Business Review, almost 80% of people work in organizations where diversity is not prioritized in decisions surrounding leadership. This should be a concern for everyone, and HR departments in particular, as a lack of diversity can lead to:
- Decreased innovation,
- Reduced profitability, and
- Poorer decision-making.
But what is diversity, exactly? The definition can be a little murky. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements, especially the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or organization”.
While this is a good start, it’s not enough. In order to foster a company culture of engagement and inclusivity, we need to go deeper.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of diversity in the workplace and discuss some ways to promote diversity in your organization. Let’s dive in!
What is diversity? Digging deeper
At its core, diversity is about inclusion. It’s about valuing everyone for their unique contributions, and it’s about recognizing that a variety of perspectives is essential for success. When organizations embrace diversity, they are opening themselves up to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new opportunities for growth.
But what does diversity look like in the workplace? Is it purely a race and gender issue, or does it encompass a wider range of characteristics?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), diversity in the workplace can be defined as “the collective mixture of differences and similarities that includes, for example, individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors.”
In other words, diversity is about far more than just the color of someone’s skin or their gender identity. It’s about including people from all walks of life, with all kinds of different backgrounds and experiences.
Who is included in the diverse workplace of today?
A diverse workplace is one that reflects the demographics of society as a whole. That means it includes people from all races, genders, sexual orientations, faiths, and abilities.
But it’s not just about ticking boxes. A truly diverse workplace is one in which everyone feels welcome and valued — regardless of their differences.
In order to create a diverse workplace, organizations need to cast their net wide and think about all the different ways they can attract and retain a more diverse workforce. This includes things like:
- Offering flexible work arrangements
- Developing inclusive hiring practices
- Promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives
- Encouraging employee engagement and belonging
Again, diversity is not just a corporate buzzword or a box that needs ticking; it’s about creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable and able to be themselves.
Why diverse workplaces are essential for employers and employees alike
Most people are of the mindset that diversity is an important (if not essential) characteristic of the modern workplace. After all, we are living in the year 2022; it’s not good enough for companies to be excluding or not actively seeking a diverse range of employees.
Everyone who works hard at their job should have an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their skin color, gender identity, country of origin, or sexual orientation.
But this isn’t just a matter of ethics or morals — it’s also good business sense. Numerous studies have shown that companies with a more diverse workforce are more successful than those without. Let’s take a look at some key stats that are relevant in 2022:
- Inclusive and diverse companies are 1.7 times more likely to innovate, and their cash flow per employee is 2.3 times higher
- Millennials in particular are 83% more likely to be engaged at work if their company is inclusive
- Diverse companies are 70% more likely to corner new markets, as well as 35% more likely to outdo their competitors
And, in terms of talent acquisition, the workforce of today is looking for companies that are inclusive; in fact, 2 in 3 candidates will actively seek out the more diverse organizations.
As you can see, there are many reasons why diversity is so important in the workplace. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business.
Diversity in 2022: our progress so far
If diversity is such a hot topic in 2022, how are we doing in terms of achieving it in the workplace? Let’s take a look at some of the most recent data and see how different demographics are doing in terms of securing jobs and advancing their careers.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to diversity in the workplace.
The good news is that employers are becoming more aware of the benefits of a diverse workforce and are taking steps to increase diversity through various initiatives, such as targeted recruitment and employee resource groups. In fact, 92% of business leaders agree that education programs can and should be used in the workplace to improve diversity.
And the good news keeps coming, as these diversity-focused initiatives are paying off:
- The ratio of women to men in the US workforce is increasing, and women are predicted to make up just under half of the workforce by 2024
- 6.6% of all Fortune 500 companies now have women operating as their CEOs, which is a huge improvement
- 60% of companies actively measure their inclusion efforts to make sure they are effective
And now for the bad news: there’s much, much more work to be done. Despite the progress that has been made, there are still significant gaps when it comes to diversity in the workplace. For example:
- The US pay gap between men and women still sits at 15–20%
- Only 85 women out of every 100 men are promoted to manager — and of those women, only 58 are Black and 71 are Latina
- 3 in 20 LGBTQ+ women and 6 in 20 LGBTQ+ men believe that their gender and sexuality will negatively influence their career progression due to discriminatory views of others
- Less than 1% of senior positions are held by LGBTQ+ women, despite the fact that they make up over 5% of the female workforce
These statistics are just a few of the many that illustrate the need for continued progress when it comes to diversity in the workplace. In order for businesses to thrive in the modern economy, they must embrace diversity and create an inclusive environment where all employees can feel comfortable and thrive.
Workplace diversity: how you can do your part
It’s been well established that diversity is good for business, and that companies are making an effort to foster diversity in the workplace. But what can you do to help make sure your workplace is as diverse and inclusive as possible?
There are a number of things your Human Resources team can do to promote diversity in the workplace. Let’s walk through a few of them.
1. Integrate diversity protocols into your hiring process.
The hiring process is where your inclusivity should begin. Make sure you have protocols in place that ensure all candidates are given an equal opportunity to be considered for a position, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other factors.
This means ensuring that all candidates are interviewed, that hiring decisions are made based on merit and not personal biases, and that the workplace is free from discrimination. To do this, you may need to provide training for your HR managers and team on how to recognize and avoid unconscious bias.
2. Be proactive in creating an inclusive environment.
The workplace should be a welcoming place for everyone, regardless of their identity or background. As HR manager or a member of the HR team, this means proactively creating an environment where all employees feel comfortable being themselves.
Inclusivity includes things like having an inclusive dress code, providing a safe space for employees to discuss sensitive topics, and making sure all voices are heard. It’s also important to celebrate diversity in all its forms, and to recognize the contributions of employees from different backgrounds.
3. Encourage employee engagement.
Employee engagement is key to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. When employees feel connected to their company and their colleagues, they’re more likely to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and perspectives, which can help create a more diverse and inclusive environment.
To encourage engagement, HR should be actively providing opportunities for employees to get involved in diversity-related initiatives, and giving them a voice in shaping the direction of the company.
4. Promote diversity and inclusion externally.
It’s not just enough to foster diversity and inclusion internally; companies need to be proactive in promoting these values externally as well. This means working with partners, clients, and other stakeholders to promote diversity and inclusion in all its forms.
It also means being vocal about the importance of diversity and inclusion, and speaking out against discrimination and bigotry.
5. Be a role model.
The best way to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace is by setting an example for others to follow. As an HR leader in your company, it’s important to be open and accepting of all people, regardless of their identity or background.
This means speaking up against discrimination and bigotry, and promoting diversity and inclusion in all its forms. It also means being a role model for employees, by embracing difference and celebrating diversity.
Diversity is one of the key factors that contributes to a successful, modern HR department. By following these tips, you can help make sure your workplace is as diverse and inclusive as possible.
When it comes to being a successful HR department — and by extension, a successful business — having a diverse workplace is key. It’s clearly the ethical thing to do, but it’s also been proven to be the most effective way to manage a team and see the results you’re looking for.
Hopefully the research above has shown you that having a diverse workplace is the key to success. When you have a team of people who come from different backgrounds and experiences, you’re able to tap into a wealth of knowledge and creativity. This not only makes your team stronger, but it also allows you to better understand your customer base.
So, is 2022 your year for workplace diversity? We think so!