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Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are critical elements of every recruitment and retention strategy. In a later section, we’ll get into all the benefits of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, but let’s start with a few definitions. 



What is Diversity in the Workplace?

Diversity in the workplace means that an organization employs a diverse team of people that’s reflective of the society in which it exists and operates.

Unfortunately, determining what makes a team diverse isn’t so simple.

Diversity incorporates all of the elements that make individuals unique from one another, and while there are infinite differences in humans, most of us subconsciously define diversity by a few social categories, such as gender, race, age and so forth.

In the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws to protect individual employees in the workplace based on specified social categories that commonly face discrimination in American culture. These social categories are typically defined in some version of a Non-Discrimination Statement and Policy, such as this one by the US government:

“The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.”

There are certainly more visible and invisible elements that make individuals diverse from one another than those defined by these statements, but these broad categories can help companies identify gaps in diversity. They also provide measurable metrics for companies to set goals and make concerted efforts to boost diversity in the workplace.

Learn more about diversity & gain insight from 10 companies building diverse workplaces


What is Inclusion in the Workplace?

Although often used in tandem with diversity, inclusion is a concept of its own.

SHRM defines inclusion separately from diversity as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”

Diversity vs. Inclusion

Diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make people unique while inclusion refers to the behaviors and social norms that ensure people feel welcome.

Not only is inclusivity crucial for diversity efforts to succeed, but creating an inclusive culture will prove beneficial for employee engagement and productivity.

Check out this guild to building an inclusive work environment plus 10 tips from experts  


Benefits of Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Aside from being a clear social, political, ethical and moral responsibility, there are some serious benefits associated with diversity in the workplace.

Benefit 1 – Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to yield higher revenue, while gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to yield higher revenue.

Benefit 2 – In the US, companies that increase racial and ethnic diversity on senior boards enjoy a 0.8% increase in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), while their counterparts in the UK see a 3.5% increase.

Benefit 3 – A recent BCG study found a strong, statistically significant positive relationship between diversity and corporate innovation. The study’s author explained her findings in a TED Talk, which is a must see for anyone interested in the topic.

Benefit 4 – Glassdoor found that 57% of employees and 67% of job seekers consider diversity an important element of their workplace, which affects recruitment and retention.

Benefit 5 – Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture a new market audience.

Benefit 6 – When employees perceive their organization as committed to diversity and inclusion, and they actually feel included, employees are 80% more likely to rank their employer as high performing.

Benefit 7 – A study published in the American Sociological Review found that companies with the highest percent in racial or gender diversity have higher sales revenue, more customers, higher than average market share and profitability.


Diversity in the Workplace Statistics

Those figures alone should be enough to convince any business that fostering a diverse workplace is a top priority, but when we break down the latest statistics it’s evident that we still have a long way to go.  

The tech industry, in particular, has some startling diversity statistics. information is beautiful created an interactive infographic showing diversity statistics for 23 of the largest tech companies. Here are some of their findings:

– Indiegogo is the only company with at least 50% women representation, slightly less than the US population, which is 51% women.

– NVIDIA has the lowest representation of white employees at 37%. They also have the highest Asian representation at 45%, compared to 6% of the US population.

– Apple and Amazon both have the highest representation of Latino employees at 13%, compared to the US population at 18%.

– Amazon also has the highest representation of African American employeess at 21% followed by Dell at 10%, compared to the US population, which is 13% African American.

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