Why is diversity and inclusion important in business?
At this juncture, every business owner should be aware that society itself is calling for more diversity in the workplace and more inclusivity when it comes to both staffing and to the people that a business serves. What some might not realize, though, is exactly why trying to create a more diverse or inclusive business actually matters in the business world. After all, when profit is the name of the game it would seem counterintuitive to do anything that didn't immediately lead to the most profitable results.
The truth, though, is that workplace diversity and inclusion make businesses better. When you embrace these concepts as a core part of your business and your hiring strategy, you're giving your business permission to move forward in its ability to serve new markets. You're still going to be looking for the best of the best, but you may be changing the preconceptions that the majority of people in your company hold about the type of people who can truly make your business more successful.
The benefits of diversity and inclusion practices in business
While both diversity and inclusion have some cache as cultural buzzwords, creating a more diverse workplace actually has concrete benefits for a business. It's not just a matter of creating a business that will have better PR or that can stay ahead of the curve when it comes to societal expectations, but rather a matter of creating the type of business that will be able to compete in an increasingly complex and diverse marketplace.
When you create a more diverse business, you're getting more viewpoints from people with different backgrounds and experiences out of the bargain. This will allow you to better position your business to take advantage of under-served parts of the market and allow you insights into groups that might not traditionally be targeted by others in your injury. Embracing diversity also gives you the chance to listen to voices to which others in your industry may not have access, allowing your business to take the lead when it comes to exciting new ideas and business opportunities.
What do diversity and inclusion mean in the workplace?
It's important to take a moment and think about what it means to make your business more diverse and inclusive. While it's rather easy to pay lip-service to the concept by making a few token moves, the truth is that it's very necessary to understand the basics of both concepts in order to make sure that you're actually making effective choices that will have a positive long-term impact on your business.
Before you start making changes, make sure that you understand exactly what's necessary to change within your business and how you're going to make sure that you leverage both of these concepts in a way that makes sense. Taking a little bit of extra time to understand what it means to be diverse within your business and what it means to be inclusive will allow you to make the kinds of choices that will lead to successful changes and ultimately to a business that has a better long-term plan for how it will grow within an evolving society.
“In the context of the workplace, valuing diversity means creating a work environment that respects and includes difference, recognizing the unique contributions that individuals with many types of differences can make and maximizes the potential of all employees.”
What is diversity?
Diversity is one of those concepts that can be best demonstrated by looking at your current employees. If you can look across the room and see that everyone could easily be described in the same way, your business probably isn't all that diverse. Diversity, in short, is the practice of hiring people from diverse backgrounds to fill positions in your business and to represent your company to the public. Diversity is a key part of how those from the outside view your business.
Diversity can extend in several different ways. While race and gender are usually the most visible qualifiers, there are other types of diversity that are also important. These can include:
- Sexual preference
- Gender identity
- Physical ability
These might all be important factors that you need to consider when building your ideal business. The goal is to have more types of people so that you can incorporate more types of viewpoints.
What is inclusion?
If diversity is showing the outside world that you value more viewpoints, inclusion is showing people that you value them enough to bring them inside the world of your business. In simple terms, inclusion is the process of removing barriers for entry and allowing more people to feel like they belong within your offices and as part of your overall brand. For most businesses, this means taking a hard look at their own practices and determining how they make other people feel.
Inclusion generally means taking a look at how your business works and figuring out what you can do to make a larger variety of people feel more comfortable. This means taking a few moments to consider whether the way that your company currently interacts with its employees pays attention to their beliefs and backgrounds in a way that makes it possible for them to express themselves and ultimately be able to bring their unique experiences to the table when at work.
What is the difference between diversity and equity?
Equity has historically been one of the main goals of businesses looking to hire new recruits. Equity, or equality, is simply the action of treating every employee in the same way. This goal not only has a great deal to do with attempting to be sensitive to the need to bring in new viewpoints, but to avoid the appearance of giving special treatment to certain employees and fostering resentment in the workplace. Equality remains a good goal, but it's not the only goal.
Diversity, on the other hand, acknowledges that not every employee is the same. It is an acknowledgment that, for a variety of reasons, employees come from different backgrounds and they are likely to have different reactions to different situations. Diversity doesn't mean giving employees special treatment or getting rid of the rules, but instead that there the differences between employees are something to be celebrated rather than ignored. When a company embraces diversity, it is saying that every employee has his or her own story.
Diversity and inclusivity examples
Examples of diversity are generally easy to come by in the workplace. A company that is committed to diversity might, for example, want to focus on:
- Bringing in new female employees into positions that are typically dominated by men, or
- Make sure that it has employees of various ethnicities in front-line positions so that customers are able to see themselves represented by the company's brand.
Generally speaking, one is looking to hire individuals that are under-represented in their roles in the company.
Inclusion generally has more to do with the company's culture. A good example of inclusion might be:
- Switching from a Christmas party to a more general holiday party, or
- Making sure that company potlucks have food available for employees who have certain culturally-based dietary restrictions.
Inclusion is rarely a matter of taking something away from the company, but instead a matter of adding more elements in order to allow every employee to participate.
How diversity and inclusion affects company culture
Every company has its own unique culture. When a company begins to focus more on diversity and inclusion, it begins to change that culture. Unless the company already has those concepts baked into its DNA, it's natural to see a shift in how it works and how people interact with one another. Fortunately, the changes that come with these concepts are largely very positive.
The biggest change most companies see in their culture is a dropping of assumptions. With more points of view available, people in the company will instead have real interactions with the same types of people they serve in business roles. This, in turn, tends to make employees less prone to embarrassing mistakes and better able to interact with one another. Companies that are typically more diverse and more inclusive are also companies that tend to shift towards more cooperative communities that feature employees looking out for one another.
Diversity and inclusion best practices
As with every other type of change you'd want to make as a business owner, it's a good idea to get an idea of industry-best practices before you start to change the way that your business interacts with the concepts of diversity and inclusion. The last thing you want to do is to jump into the major changes without a good idea of what you want to do and, perhaps just as importantly, what types of behaviors to enjoy.
You will want to divide your cultural shift into a few basic categories. It's a good idea to know how your implementation process will work, how you will get your employees to buy into the new systems, how you'll bring on new employees, and how you can change your company's culture to really take advantage of a more inclusive environment.
How to implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Implementation of diversity and inclusion in the workplace can be one of both the easiest and most complex parts of introducing any type of new policy to your employees. You'll want to start with a plan of action.
Plan of action. Start by workshopping your initiatives, getting real feedback not only about your employees' wants and needs but also the types of policies that are used by other businesses in your industry. It's always a very good idea to spend some time working up a solid plan of action before you start moving forward with any new initiative.
Also be sure to check out our blog on 5 diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace you have to try for helpful team building, diversity focused exercises.
Test it out. Once you have a plan of action in place, you'll want to have targeted dates for rolling out each part of the plan. Start by announcing your intent, and then move on to a period of making relatively small but important adjustments. While it is definitely important that you bring your business into alignment with your vision, making sure that each change works is also a necessity.
Getting everyone onboard
Getting all of your employees onboard for your new initiatives can be one of the hardest parts of changing how your business works. A small minority of your employees may resent the idea of change because they legitimately have issues with making your business more diverse or more inclusive. More employees, though, will fail to get on board because they are generally resistant to change. While you cannot and should not cater to the first group, it's vital that you work with the second.
One of the best ways to bring employees onboard is to make them a part of the process. Don't frame what they have done before as wrong, but rather frame the changes as a better way of doing business. Once this is done, you can start to work with some of your more reticent employees to help them understand how the upcoming changes will ultimately help them.
Recruiting and hiring best practices
Your commitment to diversity and inclusion does not mean that you're not looking for the best of the best. Instead, it means that you're going to alter your hiring practices to ensure that you're bringing in candidates who are not only the best fit for the job but who might also bring in fantastic new points of view for your business. Start by determining exactly what you need, and then bring in candidates to help you fulfill that need.
It's a good idea to start looking for employees in places that you might not necessarily recruit. This might mean putting up hiring ads on new sites or attending hiring fairs in new neighborhoods, but a huge part of your new recruiting score should be to give new voices a chance to be heard. You'll still look for the same skills and requirements as before, but you'll also look for how these individuals can add to your company's culture.
Inclusion and company culture tips
It can be tough to change the way that your company's culture works, but it's very possible to do so and still retain the values that consider as core parts of your company's identity. If you really want to see a change occur, it's a good idea to make sure that you're embracing the right attitude.
Instead of looking at this process as one in which you are taking things away, look at it as a process of adding things. You're not taking away jobs from one group, you're adding new voices. You are not removing old celebrations, you are adding new activities. You are making an intentional change to your company's culture, so make sure that you're true to the new vision and that you're ultimately in a place where you can make an impact on how your company works.
Common mistakes companies make?
It's distressingly easy to make mistakes when trying to diversify your workforce. The truth is that the vast majority of companies that enact diversity and inclusion agendas tend to look more at the surface than what lies beneath. The goal here absolutely shouldn't be to hire a certain number of people of a given gender or ethnicity. The goal should be to hire a diverse group of people who will bring new ideas to your company and ultimately help it to become more successful than it was before.
The best way to avoid this kind of mistake is to have an idea of what you're really looking to accomplish. At the end of the day, you want your business to grow and succeed. What kind of ideas do you need to make that happen? What kinds of points of view will be important? If you can answer those questions, you'll be able to find the right employees.
Creating a more inclusive and diverse company
If you're looking to help your company focus more on diversity and inclusion, you may want to consider outsourcing your HR processes. PayTech can help you in a number of ways, from helping you hire great new people to providing you with the tools you need to better manage your employees. If you're ready to make a difference in how your business works, make sure to contact PayTech and take a look at the packages and prices that are currently available.