Fostering Meaningful Conversations: Exploring Vital Diversity and Inclusion Discussion Topics for Today’s Workplace
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Diversity & Inclusion, also commonly known as D&I, is essential for every organization. Organizations that value diversity and inclusion have driven growth, profit, and revenue towards them. Before diving into details, let’s get a basic understanding of what diversity & inclusion really is.
What is Diversity?
Diversity in the workplace is referred to as a wide range of unique characteristics and experiences in employees that encompasses features like age, gender, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, geographical location, physical ability, and social class. In simpler terms, it means to include employees that have the full spectrum of human differences.
Types of Diversity
4 different types of diversity dimensions are very common in a workplace.
Internal Diversity in the Workplace is the characteristic of every individual employee that works in your organization. These are the factors that a person is born with or belongs to. These factors include race, age, ethnicity, national origin, cultural diversity, and so on.
External Diversity also refers to the characteristics of an individual employee, but these factors are not the ones that an employee is born with or belongs to. These are the factors that can be changed or modified by a person. These factors include education, skills & interests, religion, geographical location, relationship status, socioeconomic status, experiences, citizenship, and so on.
Organizational Diversity is referred to as the different factors that appear in any organization. These factors include work location, job function, department, management status, level of seniority, etc.
The World View Diversity is quite self-explanatory. It simply reflects the difference and diversity in everyone’s world views. As we all have a different way or a different perspective to look at the world, these are the factors that shape our views. It could be our life experiences, family history, beliefs, politics, and opinions.
What is Inclusion?
Inclusion has become a need in today’s world. Diversity without inclusion is referred to as ‘tokenism’.
Tokenism is the practice of doing something that could prevent you from criticism, and you show the world that everything that is being done is fair. It might sound immoral to practice tokenism, but to your surprise, many corporations around the world practice this without any remorse. Tokenism occurs when there is an outward force compelling an individual to do something, such as the government, and to avoid doing this, the individual just fills up the quota. Tokenism is an extreme type of discrimination, which is still practiced. The LGBTQ+ community is the victim of tokenism by many organizations.
Moving forward, inclusion simply refers to a work environment where all individuals are treated equally and respectfully. The aim of an inclusive workplace is that every employee has equal opportunities and resources to contribute to the organization’s success.
Having an inclusive workplace will make your employees feel valued and respected which will foster a sense of cooperation amongst employees and will enhance employee engagement. Focusing on creating an inclusive environment means making a concerted effort with your policies, behaviors, efforts, and culture so that each person feels valued in the workplace.
Difference Between Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are two interrelated concepts, which are commonly confused by a lot of people.
As talked about earlier, diversity refers to the differences in socioeconomic backgrounds, age, gender, interests, geographical location, physical & mental abilities, religion, ethnicity, etc. However, inclusion means to originate conscious efforts, behaviors, policies, and norms that make every employee seen, heard, and valued.
Without inclusion, there is no use for diversity, and vice versa. An organization encourages diversity because they believe that if a variety of people come from diverse backgrounds, more creative ideas will be generated, and those ideas could be used in marketing strategies or other creative work.
Importance of Diversity & Inclusion
When people from different backgrounds offer their views, expertise, and experiences, this will surely bring new perspectives and creative ideas.
Higher Levels of Innovation
When new perspectives come together, it gives birth to awestruck concepts and stunning innovations. When different views collide together, it opens the door for greater innovation.
When employees’ ideas will be heard and valued, this will automatically motivate employees to become more engaged in assignments and tasks. Employees that are valued will work with more determination and dedication.
Companies following diversity & inclusion in their practices have observed a reduction in the employee turnover rate and an increase in employee retention rate. When employees feel included and valued, they tend to last longer with the organization and also perform their best.
Better Decision Making
New ideas lead to better solutions. There is a high chance that when new ideas come together, they also generate better solutions to existing problems.
Increased Revenue & Profits
When your employees work better, this will ultimately increase your organization’s revenues and profits. As your employees would be working more efficiently, more productively, and serving your customers better, the outcome of this hard work will be reflected in the profit levels of your organization.
Workforce Diversity & Inclusion Challenges
Everything has its own pros and cons, the same is the case with workforce diversity and inclusion. However, you could overcome these challenges by offering D&I training to ensure a healthy work environment.
Misunderstandings & Miscommunications
More ideas and perspectives might lead to creativity, but it also gives rise to several misunderstandings. Miscommunications usually occur in the beginning, but the employer has to encourage ongoing communication, respect, and transparency to minimize this issue.
Slower Decision making
Multiple perspectives are very beneficial, but this also slows down the decision-making process. In the beginning, agreeing to one decision might be difficult, but this will gradually lead to greater efficiency, and this helps in avoiding any missteps that could be costly in the future.
The more diverse your team is, the higher the risk of discrimination. You need to be mindful that with diversity initiatives, relevant inclusion strategies should also be incorporated to reduce biasedness and discrimination at all levels.
Diversity & Inclusion Goals
Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace are important factors in attracting diverse talents, eradicating unconscious biasedness, and a great employee retention strategy. Other than this, the goals of D&I are:
Talent Attraction & Retention
When you are aiming for a diverse and inclusive workforce, it will also attract top talent. When people with different backgrounds are mixed together, it brings a wide range of skills, talents, and experiences to the workplace. These diverse characteristics in employees help organizations solve problems and grasp new opportunities. Moreover, when employees’ ideas and opinions will be heard, employee retention is surely going to increase as well.
Connecting with Customers
Diversity is crucial for business growth. To grow your business, you will need to reach out to more customers, but many companies fail to penetrate a new consumer market because they cannot connect with those customers on certain levels. When you have a diverse workforce, you can tap into more customer segments because your employees can customize the marketing strategies and plans according to that particular segment. This will also improve customer relations and will allow you to dive into new consumer markets and create a larger customer base.
Increases Creativity & Innovation
As said earlier, a diverse team leads to better creativity and innovation. To create an out-of-the-box idea, several different ideas have to be incorporated. With a diverse and inclusive workforce, people will be motivated to put new ideas on the table to increase efficiency, which will in turn benefit the organization only.
Increases Brand Identity
In today’s world, a single piece of information gets viral over the internet within seconds, and if that information includes human rights and values, it could become a sensation. Nowadays, when people are talking about discrimination in the workplace, complaining about their work life, and even blaming employers, if your company provides the most friendly and hospitable environment to its employees, then the word is going to spread like fire. This not only improves the brand identity of an organization, but it also puts the organization forward amongst all its competitors.
Demonstrating Diversity & Inclusion in Workplace
D&I has increased its popularity in today’s world, the reason for this popularity is that people have raised their voices for fair and equal treatment in the workplace. In earlier times, employers were quite specific with their choices, women, people with disabilities, transgenders, and older people were not given employment opportunities, no matter how much they were qualified, they were simply ignored because of their characteristics.
However, the world has taken a complete shift nowadays, employers who earlier refrained from hiring women and disabled people, are now specifically asking for them. At a certain level, diversity and inclusion is being practiced in many organizations, but it still needs to overcome a lot of challenges. Some of the techniques that you could use to implement D&I practices are:
Diversity & Inclusion Training
Employees of all levels should undergo diversity & inclusion training. This will educate the employers and the employees on how to work efficiently and effectively with people that come from diverse backgrounds. D&I training might not sound that much effective to you, but after this training, employees become more aware of each other’s cultures and they also start respecting everyone who comes from a different background than them. This encourages employees to communicate and collaborate better with each other.
Remove Bias from Hiring Process
To increase diversity and inclusion practices in your organization, you need to start working on it from the very beginning i.e., from the hiring process. Include women in your recruitment processes so that biasedness is prevented in your hiring decisions. Asking for information about the candidate’s race, ethnicity, and gender should also be removed.
Increase Diversity at Senior Levels
Diversity doesn’t have to be practiced only on lower levels, but it has to be practiced on all hierarchical levels of an organization. To begin with, you can place women at senior level positions and ensure that all important meetings include 30-50% women and minorities.
Paid Parental Leaves
Everyone is familiar with the term maternity leaves, which means that a mother takes a leave for a few months typically before and after giving birth. However, a relatively new concept has been established about paternity leaves. Similar to maternity leave, paternity leave requires the father to take a leave from the job to spend time with his new baby.
Parental leaves are legally allowed in almost all countries, and companies should also adopt policies that allow both parents to take a leave to spend time with their new baby. This is ultimately going to increase employee satisfaction and loyalty.
A multigenerational workforce refers to a workforce that includes employees from a maximum number of generations. The generations we have today include:
Silent Generation / Traditionalists (1928-1945)
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Generation X (1965-1980)
Millennials / Generation Y (1981-1996)
Generation Z (1997-2009)
Generation Alpha (2010 – Present)
A combination of employees consisting of all these generations could help organizations in several ways. While younger employees are good with technology, older employees have strong decision-making skills, and both of these combined could drive change in the organization.
Acknowledging Holidays of all Cultures
Every culture or religion has its own sacred days and holidays. Many organizations offer a floating holiday policy that gives the employee the chance to choose their own holidays from the calendar. Through this, employees have an opportunity to celebrate their special times with their loved ones. A floating holiday policy is really appreciated in diverse organizations.
Mix It Up
We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities, which also makes our values, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes to be completely unique. When you mix employees with diverse backgrounds, you will notice the creativity and innovation in their ideas and plans are outstanding. It might sound illogical to combine people with diverse backgrounds together, but the range of different perspectives they bring to the table surely impacts your business positively.
Taking feedback from your employees is a great way to know whether your diversity & inclusion efforts are worth it or not. You could conduct pulse surveys from time to time to find out how your workforce feels about certain issues and how you could find solutions for those issues to maintain a healthy environment.
A pulse survey is a short and quick survey that is sent out to employees so that the employers could get a pulse check on several topics, such as employee satisfaction, job role, communication, relationships, and work environment.
In several cases, the problem is not in the external environment, but the problem lies in the roots only. Before implementing any plans or strategies, you should revisit your company policies, and check whether or not any policy is discriminating or biased. If you find such policies, then either remove them or amend them in a non-discriminatory or unbiased manner. This way you would be creating a more equitable and diverse workforce.
Celebrating diversity is the best way to educate each other about their beliefs, traditions, cultures, values, etc. This deepens the understanding within people and also reduces unconscious biasedness.
Many companies have adopted the practice of celebrating diversity. This not only helps your business, but it also has a positive effect on employee engagement and employee satisfaction. You could organize lunch for your employees or dinner buffets, where they can easily share information about their culture and tradition. This is a splendid way to promote diversity and inclusion.
Other than this, if you don’t want to do something grand, you could also set up a bulletin board where people could share about their culture by putting up different things relating to their culture and traditions. This will encourage employees to share about their culture or lifestyle, and they could also inform others if any cultural event is around the corner.
Employees are considered to be the fuel that drives an organization. Without them, an organization is nothing but a place with four walls. To show employees how much they matter to an organization, employers make tremendous efforts and implement new initiatives to encourage and motivate their employees. The HR professionals can play a vital role in this.
Today, many organizations are promoting Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, because they know that if they are successful in satisfying their employees, their business is automatically going to attract growth and success. These organizations have built a strong reputation, have successfully attracted and retained the best talent, became more efficient, and have also served their customers the best. On top of it all, they have also been able to generate more revenue.
In a world where people are fighting for their basic rights and asking for equal representation, promoting your employees and keeping them satisfied should be your top priority. Start celebrating your employees to be at the top of everyone!