Diversity in the Workplace 101

The future of work is diverse

by Justin Fragapane, Content Writer

August 7, 2018

Diversity in the workplace is more essential now than it’s ever been. If you’re wondering what that means and why it’s the case, we’re here to help shed some light on where things stand today, where we feel they’re headed in the future, and why there’s never been a better time to upgrade diversity and inclusion from buzzwords to business initiatives.

So, What Exactly is Diversity?

diversity of fishes swimming together

In terms of the workplace, diversity refers to an organization ensuring the talent pool they recruit, retain, and develop is a varied one. This means making efforts so that everything from different races and ethnicities, genders, religions, sexual orientations, and abilities are all well-represented within your walls.

It’s also something that you should view as an opportunity – not an obligation, or an exercise in political correctness.

One of the main things to understand when considering diversity is that it counts for very little without inclusion.

It’s about looking past the notion of simply employing a diverse group of people, and instead seeing such initiatives as your organization’s chance to tap a diverse set of experiences, backgrounds, world views, and methods of problem-solving. Your clients and your audience – not to mention the world at large – aren’t homogenous after all, so why would it benefit you to build a team that is?

But one of the main things to understand when considering diversity is that it counts for very little without inclusion – which represents the flip-side of the same coin – and its success begins and ends with your company’s culture.

It’s not just up to HR leaders, but every member of an organization to help foster a culture of inclusion and acceptance. In relation to diversity, inclusion is specifically where team managers working on the frontlines personally hold the greatest sway over how integrated and respected each employee feels.

5 Types of Diversity in the Workplace

To help illustrate these points, we’ve compiled a selection of statistics related to diversity and inclusion taken from studies released over the past 5 years.

Multiple reports on this topic have emerged over that time, and while not intended to represent the entirety of diversity in the workforce, the information below works to provide a snapshot representative of the most common types of diversity companies and teams embarking on D&I initiatives can focus on in the immediate.

These include gender diversity, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disability – but keep in mind that diversity can also encompass anything from age, socioeconomic status, education, and beyond. The goal is ultimately to foster equitable recruiting, development, and overall lifecycle practices, that can result in diversity of thought throughout an entire enterprise.

The numbers below reveal some of the ways our unconscious biases can affect hiring practices, the ways certain areas of diversity are beginning to improve for the better, but mostly, how long of a road we still have ahead of us if we truly hope to get things right for employees and organizations alike.

59 %

Portion of 750 talent managers surveyed who list diversity shortcomings as a “significant” challenge to their recruiting efforts.

bubbles

70%of Latinos
72%of Women
80%of Asians
89%of black respondents

List diversity as a major factor in deciding where to work.

Race
and
Ethnicity

blue computer with a 75% on its screen showing the percentage of jobs owned by men in computing and mathematical fields

As of 2017, the percentage of jobs in computing and mathematical fields made up of men. Fewer than 15% were black or Hispanic.

pink computer with a 35% on its screen showing the likelihood of increased revenu by companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity

Likelihood of companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity to earn above-average revenue in their industry.

Women and racial minorities are often considered under the same umbrella of stigmatized groups, but in the U.S. white women often comprise close to 40% of all employees in a professional setting. Black women and men rarely comprise over 5% in the same setting.

eight clown fish, a blue fish and a seahorse all aligned together

Religion

Gender

White men typically make up:

85 %

of all board members and executives and

95 %

of all organization CEOs.

Blind Auditions

Increased the probability that female musicians would be hired by between 25% and 46% in a study by Harvard and Princeton.

two different types of fish illustrating showing the importance of gender diversity to increase team performance

50 / 50

Teams with equal gender diversity outperform other teams in quality of work.

Sexual
Orientation

Disability

Inclusion

Diversity means nothing without inclusion. A 2017 report shows organizations with inclusive cultures are:

2x
3x
6x
8x

2xmore likely to meet/exceed financial targets

3xmore likely to be high-performing

6xmore likely to be innovative and agile

8xmore likely to achieve better business outcomes

Why are Diversity & Inclusion Important Today?

Diversity is the future of the workforce – and rightfully so. Successfully cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture within your organization comes with a host of benefits – both tangible and intangible – from an improved ability to connect with your clientele, to an increase in team performance, to greater creativity and innovation, not to mention a huge boost to your employer brand and recruiting efforts.

At its core, it’s also one of the most impactful and meaningful ways for companies to walk the walk of a people-first mindset and help crystalize the values they hold to heart.

Bottom line, diversity is a competitive advantage – and one that’s primed to pay off for those willing to lean into it.

As the workforce in certain sectors continues to move towards automation, roles centered around creativity and innovation will increasingly become areas where humans can have the greatest impact and influence. Teams that can bring diverse points of view to a project in these instances will already be ahead of the pack; futureproofing themselves in a sense as industries around them continue to evolve.

Bottom line, diversity is a competitive advantage – and one that’s primed to pay off for those willing to lean into it.

While companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple are still far from perfect in the present, the effort and expense they’re exerting to begin shoring up their diversity gaps should be a clue that diversity and inclusion are the future of some of the world’s biggest organizations for a reason. Those who fail to see the value in that – from both a human, and business standpoint – may very well be left to tread water while the competition swims laps around them.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and every organization will need to find an approach that aligns with their DNA. But as with anything, progress here begins with a shift in mindset, an openness to change, and of course the willingness to listen to your people.

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