Diversity and inclusion are critical in the fast-paced globalized world today. Industry experts believe that diversity and inclusion (D&I) will become even more prominent in the workplace as the world becomes advanced day-by-day. Do you know what diversity and inclusion entail? Keep reading to find out.

Table of Contents

What is Diversity?

Diversity, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary,  means “the condition of having different elements.”

Types of Diversity:

In the workplace, diversity means understanding, valuing, and accepting differences. The types of diversity are:

  • Cultural:

    This is related to the person’s ethnicity and the society or family values we were brought up in. This type of diversity is commonly found in multinational companies.

  • Race:

    This is diversity based on the person’s physical traits.

  • Age:

    This means the people of different generations and ages working together. These days the generation tags given are the GenZ, GenX, Millenials, and so on. The peaceful co-existence of all of these is the target.

  • Religious:

    This type refers to the presence of multiple religions and spiritual beliefs in the workplace.

  • Sex, Gender, Sexual Orientation:

    There are multiple variations in gender. Gender is no longer seen as a definitive construct and today includes a broad spectrum.

  • Disability:

    There are various people with disabilities or mental conditions that are included in the workforce.

The additional types of diversity include class, education, skills, experience, personality, and abilities.

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What is Inclusion?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, inclusion is “the act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded.” It refers to the environment that is supportive and increases collaboration among all the employees in the workplace, irrespective of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, skills, and experience, among other factors.

Diversity and Inclusion: Is it Same or Different?

So, are the terms diversity and inclusion different? Definitely. Diversity refers to ‘what,’ and inclusion refers to ‘how.’ Both go hand in hand. When inclusion strategies and methods are applied in the organization, diversity can work for better function and performance. The existence and extent of diversity and inclusion in the workplace depend on your organizational culture. Say you have a diverse workforce in your workplace, but there is no inclusivity culture; everyone’s contribution is not valued equally, then having diversity makes no sense. Thus, both are complementary. Similarly, having diverse talent and retaining that diverse talent is essential, and this can be done by diversity training.

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Benefits of Diversity

There are several benefits to having a diverse workforce. Let us take a look.

  1. Innovation:

    When there is a diverse workforce, you have people from various backgrounds and life experiences. When you have a heterogeneous group of people working together, you will have multiple perspectives that give you a better chance at solving problems. Diversity training in the workplace would help in such situations.

  2. Creativity:

    It increases creative ideas as people view the world differently and use different approaches. This will give you a variety of innovative solutions and, in turn, improve productivity.

  3. Faster Solutions:

    Having a diverse workforce will help since the teams will develop faster solutions. The team’s diverse experiences bring in various insights that can be used to target problems and create solutions.

  4. Organizational Culture:

    When employees view their organization as one that respects and values diversity, they develop a favorable opinion of the organization and are more willing to be retained. Thus, when women or other minorities take on leadership roles, the workforce views it as empowering and has a positive attitude towards their work.

Barriers of Diversity

Not all organizations view diversity in a positive light. Some are not inclusive (though they should be) because of these barriers.

  1. Integration:

    There can be issues in helping employees integrate into the workforce and feel included in the organization. If there is no or faulty diversity training, there will be difficulties in employees integrating. There could be issues related to the fairness of pay, work responsibilities, and even social interaction.

  2. Communication:

    With a multinational organization, there could be communication issues where employees speak different languages and belong to other cultures. There could be trust issues that crop up and clashes in the standard routines. Employees in managerial positions would find it challenging to convey expectations, increasing the communication gap further.

  3. Resistance to Change:

    When there is a large, diverse workforce, there could be those not receptive to change. Newly hired employees would find it difficult to adjust in such cases, and talent retention would reduce. Such an attitude could also promote negative consequences of prejudice, bias, and stereotyping.

Solutions to the Barriers of Diversity

There are ways and means to tackle these barriers.

  1. Organizational Policy:

    The organization can create policies to increase diversity. During the hiring process, focus on interviews, application questions, and diversity training can increase diversity and align managers’ and new employees’ thinking processes.

  2. Respect:

    For the success of any organization, there has to be respect among the leadership and the employees for each other. Raising a voice in disrespect and correcting such events will make the employees feel wanted and valued in the organization.

  3. Diversity training:

    Continuous diversity training reminds the employees and managers about the appropriate behavior. Such training emphasizes proper communication, respect, company culture, and organizational policies.

What is Diversity Training?

Diversity training has become the need of the hour for every organization today. It refers to the programs that encourage group interaction, reduce discrimination and bias, and help individuals who are different and from diverse backgrounds in working together. Diversity training in the workplace can address the bias and prejudices that exist in the organization and make the work environment a positive space for everyone. Increased employee morale, collaboration, and interpersonal skills are the positive changes after a diversity training program.

A diversity training program is said to be effective not when it asks the employees to be tolerant of others but when the company culture is inclusive, encourages the employees to respect and embrace their differences, and enhances proper understanding instead of mere do’s and don’ts.

So, what exactly should diversity training be? Let us see.

  1. Common goals:

    Diversity training must create common goals that target a particular issue. A clear idea of what the program should include should be chalked out. It must consist of all the organization employees and address a wide range of issues like unconscious bias, aggression, and cross-cultural communication. Also, hiring a diversity training expert helps in organizing content and targeting the issues.

  2. Periodic training:

    For diversity training to be most effective, it must be delivered at regular intervals. Instead of one-off training workshops, continuous comprehensive programs, events, and celebrations that weave in diversity in the organization should be organized.

  3. Organization-specific programs:

    What works for one organization may not work for another as employees’ diversity would differ. Thus, each organization must have custom diversity programs that suit its workforce. For this, the leadership must look into their organization’s vision, mission and understand their people first. They must assess the company culture, unresolved conflicts among employees, conduct surveys to know their workforce, and then move forward to customizing the diversity program.

  4. Approach to training:

    There various ways in which the training can be delivered to the employees. Showing videos and conducting webinars remain popular ways; however, many organizations use gamification and mobile learning in their training. All these approaches to training must have one goal: engagement of the employees in training. Micro-learning or eLearning are other popular approaches that are used these days.

What is Unconscious Bias?

Unconscious bias is an implicit bias, stereotype, or prejudice where people’s attitudes affect their interaction with others. It can impact the workplace in a significant way and can affect all the departments.

Unconscious bias is of many types. Let us learn more about it.

  1. Affinity bias:

    This is when one shows a preference for people similar to them and can relate to them. It is because of some shared characteristics like class, ethnicity, region, education, shared interest, or even work. It could lead to disliking people who are not from the same department at work or from the same educational background.

  2. Attribution bias:

    This refers to how we attribute our actions and others. If we succeed and do well, we attribute it to our efforts. However, any failure or delay on our part is attributed to outside factors. Also, others’ success may be written off as luck, and due credit to their ability and hard work is denied.

  3. Beauty bias:

    This is when a person is judged to do well only because they are attractive, irrespective of whether they are capable of the job.

  4. Confirmation bias:

    This is when we look for evidence that confirms our initial opinion of people. It includes overlooking contradictory evidence and sticking to our initial judgment.

  5. Conformity bias:

    This is when one takes cues from others in a large group rather than voicing their own opinions. It is prevalent in a large group with varied thoughts, experiences, and creativity.

  6. Gender bias:

    This is one of the most common biases in the workplace. Preferring one gender of workers over the others has put many a manager in trouble.

Diversity training can help in removing unconscious bias and make the workplace better. Thus diversity, when designed correctly, can help in improving productivity and retain employees in the organization. We must understand that changing thought processes takes time, and we must persevere and strive to create an inclusive workforce.

Learning Everest specializes in the creation of learning courses on Diversity and Inclusion. Do ready our case study, how we created eLearning courses and assessment tools that supported Organizational Development (OD) Intervention.

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