Diversity in the Workplace


So what does diversity in the workplace mean?

Well, first you have to understand the term diversity. The term diversity includes an understanding and acceptance that everyone is different, they have different personal characteristics that make them unique. These characteristics may include race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political ideologies, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, or socioeconomic status. These characteristics also may include life experiences and cognitive approaches toward problem-solving.

Why is diversity in the workplace important?

According to Forbes, companies who are racially and ethnically diverse perform 35% better, are 87% better at decision making, and have a 1.4% increase in revenue over companies who are not.

An article by Ruth Mayhew lists several benefits for employees as well. In her article, she says that diversity fosters respect among employees and that “Whether employees work in groups or teams comprised of co-workers with varied work styles, disabilities or who represent different cultures or generations, a synergistic work environment becomes the norm.”

Mayhew also says that diversity in the workplace helps to empower the marginalized workforce. In other words, those that have been discriminated against due to race, age, or disability can now find good-paying jobs where they can use their talents.

Mayhew also stated in her article that workplace diversity helped with conflict resolution, enhancement of the business’s reputation, job promotion and development, and increased exposure to different kinds of people. All of which benefit the employee in so many ways.

So how do you create diversity? Here are 4 steps companies can use to get started.

According to Forbes, diversity in the workplace should be the standard. Companies who have a diverse workforce are more competitive because the “companies that are diverse are able to perform better because they are able to understand different perspectives, tap into different markets and make better decisions that accurately reflect the society we live in.”

  1. Develop Permanent Policy and Training Programs – Ashley McGirt, racial trauma, and mental health therapist, said “If you are already in a position of leadership create policies that promote an antiracist culture, address microaggressions, and discrimination in the workplace. Create a policy around racism just as there are policies in place to prevent sexual harassment. If you don’t have a plan to be anti-racist then you plan to be racist.  If you are an employee and do not have the words to express yourself but have concerns about racial injustices in the workplace or the response your work is having to the racial injustices occurring in the world, you can reach out to HR and request that they bring in a trained professional to teach cultural competency and shed light on things such as racial trauma and microaggressions that occur in the workplace.”
  2. Expand Your Network – This probably sounds self-explanatory but companies tend to hire from the same schools, job fairs, etc. which can lead to hiring the same type of individuals thus hindering any attempts at diversity. Try seeking out new sources of possible candidates when looking to hire more employees.
  3. Create a Safe Place – Employees who express concerns over racism or diversity in the workplace should not have to worry about being fired, demoted, bullied, or otherwise mistreated. You could form a committee where employees can openly share their feelings and concerns with the goal of finding a way to address and fix any issues that arise.
  4. Be Held Accountable – This might be the most important step in the whole process. Employees need to hold their employers accountable and the employers need to hold themselves accountable by creating a plan for diversity and then sharing it publicly and internally with your employees. Then hit or miss keep the public and your employees up-to-date on the progress you’ve made.

Workplace diversity has benefits for the employee and the employer. It creates a better overall work environment and boosts the companies bottom line which in turn leads to higher wages and more opportunities for the employees.

In this day and age, we need to embrace our differences and learn from each other. Racism and discrimination need to be a thing of the past, and maybe if we start by having diversity in the workplace – then we can take what we have learned at work and use it in our everyday lives to really make racism and discrimination a thing of the past.

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