September 10, 2023
14 min read
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is non-negotiable. In fact, it’s a must for any work environment, regardless of industry.
Still, incorporating DE&I can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with what that looks like in a work setting.
Our ultimate guide to diversity and inclusion in the workplace includes what that can look like, how to implement and maintain it, and, of course, the benefits DE&I can have for both employees and employers.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are values that make up the concept of DE&I. Although they’re associated with each other, each term holds a different meaning.
Many organizations — including schools and workplaces — aim to improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to better support minority groups. Underrepresented groups include people of various backgrounds, including different:
In terms of workplace DE&I, diversity examines the representation an office or company has.
Equity refers to how people are treated. For example, workplace policies that make sure everyone has the same opportunities to progress and grow are an example of equitable practices.
On the other hand, inclusion takes a look at a person’s workplace experiences. Does the company accept all employees? Are all employees able to work successfully, regardless of background? The answers to these questions point to a workplace’s inclusion.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is often abbreviated to DE&I. But there’s another acronym to be aware of: DEIB. DEIB refers to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, which is the extra value that’s missing from DE&I.
Belonging is a concept that evaluates a workplace’s overall sense of acceptance.
Diversity and inclusion are two terms that are often used synonymously, but they don’t carry the same meaning.
Whereas diversity is focused on the actual representation of minority groups in a workplace, inclusion hones in on the employees’ experiences and sense of belonging in a work environment.
The core values of diversity and inclusion are pretty straightforward. An organization, such as a workplace or business, must offer up a culture of mutual respect and appreciation for everyone, regardless of their background.
With regard to diversity and inclusion, there are four main pillars to be aware of with this framework: growth, engagement, education, and community. This framework is a great foundation for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, too, but it works for any organization.
Growth is all about accessible, equitable access. This can include access to information, leadership roles, or other opportunities. In a university or workplace setting, there may be inequities and biases that you weren’t previously aware of, such as unconscious bias.
To better promote growth, take a look at the available data. If there is no available data, work with team members to make a plan on how to best measure growth in your setting. For example, teams that might have data or relevant information could include talent acquisition, recruiting, and human resources (HR).
This data can help you better diversify your applicant pools and potential candidates.
With the community aspect, the importance of maintaining a healthy culture of inclusion is at the forefront. To do this, workplaces or other organizations should have a framework to not only accept differences, but to embrace and celebrate them as well.
An organization like a university or a workplace can foster community through things like:
Education is a critical but underrated aspect of diversity and inclusion. DE&I is a lifelong journey — not something that happens overnight. As such, workplaces and other entities need to provide opportunities for people to learn about DE&I and its benefits.
Initiatives regarding education could include things like:
To seal the deal, there’s engagement. For workplaces, this means collaborating with different clients around diversity and inclusion, and with other broader groups. Supporting external entities, including both collaboration and even sponsorship, is a great example of engagement.
Diversity and inclusion can mean different things to different people. However, diversity and inclusion in the workplace usually refers to:
In a general sense, an inclusive culture involves the practice of accepting and valuing diversity and differences. You should expect to have an inclusive culture in settings like at schools (including universities) and in workplaces.
An inclusive workplace is a work environment that welcomes and celebrates candidates and employees from all walks of life.
Still, an inclusive culture doesn’t suggest disregarding the differences of others. Instead, differences should be appropriately recognized and celebrated through DE&I initiatives.
Besides the moral and ethical reasons why diversity and inclusion are key to any successful workplace, there are also loads of benefits. From bigger pools of qualified candidates to improved problem solving, DEIB can transform an organization.
Here are the top seven benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Although there are more important things than a company’s reputation, improving how people see a workplace through equitable practices can have a number of benefits. For example, workplaces that are known for their DEIB initiatives are more likely to get a more diverse pool of candidates.
Because bias and discrimination are (unfortunately) alive and well across workplaces, applicants may be hesitant to apply to companies that don’t have DE&I policies or aren’t transparent about their “stance” on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In this context, improving a company’s reputation through DE&I isn’t to attract attention from the industry or other brands. Instead, it’s meant to show potential candidates that the work environment is a safe, welcoming, and inclusive one.
No matter the industry, having a workplace that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion boosts the organization’s overall performance.
For example, research shows that having diversity within your company can help:
It can also help kindle innovation, a critical aspect for any company.
When you have a company with employees who all have similar perspectives, it can be problematic when it comes to innovation. Having a lack of diversity really shows when brands try to further develop their company and client base.
Diverse businesses report increased innovation and flow of ideas, and research backs this concept, too.
Not only does a company have more perspectives to offer ideas, but it also helps potential candidates and employees feel included. When there’s a culture of inclusion and belonging at a workplace, the people who work there feel more at ease and are less likely to carry negative feelings toward their company.
Recruitment and talent acquisition processes should be directly tied to a workplace’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. For example, many workplaces unintentionally feature bias in job postings and their respective requirements.
A larger pool of more diverse candidates can lead to meaningful internal change in a company, such as more diversity in hiring teams and leadership positions (including senior-level roles).
Plus, as mentioned above, if a brand does have a reputation for acknowledging and continuously working on diversity and inclusion, more applicants will feel comfortable applying, as they can be sure there are equitable practices in place.
In addition to increased innovation, diversity and inclusion can aid in faster, more efficient problem solving within a company. More perspectives yield more ideas which help with problem solving.
Research shows that companies with diverse workforces can problem solve faster with more quality decisions than a homogenous workplace without much diversity, according to research from the Harvard Business Review (HBR).
When you have a diverse workforce, a company can understand not only its employees better, but also its clients, no matter what industry it’s in.
For example, a sales representative might make a call to a client who’s Deaf. The client is a man who uses a phone relay service to communicate. But an employee who doesn’t have experience with anyone other than hearing people might be taken aback when a woman answers the call and says, “Hi, this is Brian.”
With phone relay services, a Deaf person can connect with an interpreter who watches the person sign and relays the message back to the person who originally calls to communicate.
Having a diverse group of employees of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, abilities, and genders can help bridge the gaps and better understand a wider range of clients. It’s a better representation of a company.
When you have a larger range of perspectives from employees and a diverse applicant pool, you also get their experiences and backgrounds (and the benefits that come with that).
Groupthink is a common pitfall of lots of organizations and having more perspectives through DE&I recruitment and talent acquisition processes can help eliminate this type of thinking.
When you have a group of people with different experiences, their opinions and perspectives will differ. This paints a larger picture that businesses can use to better understand not only their workforce, but also their client base.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace can manifest in various ways at different companies. Although it can differ slightly, here are some examples of what diversity and inclusion in the workplace can look like.
Implementing and maintaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace is critical to an organization’s success. Ignoring or putting off DEIB initiatives for any reason is detrimental to any company.
Here are five ways to create and keep up with diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Unconscious bias — though it’s something to be called out and addressed — is normal. It’s a human trait. That’s why being able to call it out is all the more important.
One step to addressing this type of bias is educating employees about what it is. Trainings about bias, discrimination, and diversity, equity, and inclusion are one method of recognition.
Encourage employees to think about their own biases and how to best address them. People in the workforce should know how to question, identify, and address their biases appropriately.
Those in higher positions, such as managers or members of leadership, should advocate for and promote equitable pay. This helps bridge the pay gaps that exist within a company.
Using data and analytics, businesses can take a look at patterns that may arise in certain areas where people are underpaid for the same position.
Companies should be transparent about the importance of DE&I at the company. Employees will recognize and appreciate this, and it helps promote a culture of belonging in a workplace, which has a whole host of benefits in and of itself.
When employees are comfortable at work, it boosts innovation, productivity, and employee retention rates, too.
Although it might not seem like a big deal, recognizing holidays from different cultures and religions is a must.
In the United States, the majority of paid holidays are Christian holidays. Holidays common in other countries often aren’t recognized, let alone considered by employers.
As an employer or employee, one of the easiest things you can do is add other holidays to your calendar. By doing so, you can not only be aware of the holidays others might be celebrating, but also be cognizant of when and when not to schedule meetings.
You can do this by adding more holidays to your Google Calendar, for example.
Employers are often defensive when it comes to feedback from employees, especially when it concerns diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, to have a truly equitable workplace, employers need to acknowledge and own up to feedback from employees.
An employer needs to listen, offer support, and mitigate any issues that arise.
That’s not to say that implementing and maintaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace is easy and straightforward. In reality, there can be challenges that crop up that organizations have to face and mitigate.
Some of the most common challenges of inclusion and diversity include:
Being able to identify and recognize these challenges of inclusion and diversity can help an organization better prepare.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important first and foremost because it’s morally and ethically right to foster diversity in a work environment. However, it’s also important for local, regional, national, and global progress.
Workplace DE&I leads to more innovation and productivity, as well as growth. Employees are able to examine different perspectives to form their own views on issues.
Plus, employees who feel more confident, comfortable, and “at home” at work have better outcomes.
In a nutshell, it leads to company and employee satisfaction and success.
If you’re looking to boost the diversity and inclusion initiatives in your workplace, look no further. The below list includes resources (both free and paid) that companies can use in various ways to improve their workplace’s diversity.
Here are three apps to explore to boost DE&I and optimize a workplace’s diversity.
With recruitment and hiring in mind, Textio is a good bet. This app eases the hiring process and optimizes it through DEIB and guidance on inclusive language practices.
It uses AI to transform a company’s content. For example, Textio can assist recruitment and hiring teams with writing emails, business blogs, and job descriptions that are inclusive and equitable.
If you’re looking to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Yoodli is a fantastic app to experiment with. Using generative AI, this app gives users recommendations and actionable tips to boost their speaking abilities while also screening for problematic instances of unconscious bias.
For example, you could record yourself practicing an upcoming presentation and Yoodli will let you know if you’re using inclusive language or not. As such, it’ll flag any instances of language that could be considered outdated or offensive.
On top of that, Yoodli will also provide you with other metrics to improve your speech, such as your:
For hiring managers and recruiting teams specifically, Yoodli can help you conduct interviews with potential candidates, too.
When recruiters use Private Yoodli while interviewing someone, you’ll get private, real-time feedback to ensure the interview stays on track. It can also help keep your unconscious biases in check as well.
For example, during the interview, Yoodli will give you pointers and recommendations (without anyone knowing). In terms of equity, this speech coach can do things like let you know if you’re talking over the candidate or going on a monologue or tangent.
To learn more about how it works, check out this simple explainer video below.
Datapeople (formerly called TapRecruit) is a great option, especially for recruitment and talent acquisition purposes. Hiring teams can streamline the recruiting and onboarding processes, as well as the entire employee lifecycle.
As the name suggests, Datapeople relies on talent data for the organization and augmentation of a company’s talent acquisition process.
For example, employers can use this software to improve job descriptions and titles to ensure they’re free of unconscious bias. It’s similar to Textio in its purpose and abilities.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace isn’t just a helpful option for companies — it’s a necessity, hands down. The benefits that workplace DE&I offers extend beyond employee satisfaction and company success.
To better foster a culture of diversity and inclusion, exploring apps like Yoodli can be a great start. At the end of the day, employers need to not only create DE&I initiatives, but also listen to their employees’ feedback and implement it into the existing workflow.
Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.