People often use the terms diversity and inclusion interchangeably. This can cause confusion in the workplace. But HR pros know these terms have specific meanings and vital jobs.
To help employers keep it all straight, here’s a quick review of their definitions and how to implement them.
Difference between diversity and inclusion
Even though most people use the terms diversity and inclusion interchangeably, they’re quite different. There can be companies and organizations that are the champions of diversity but aren’t inclusive at all. On the other hand, there are workplaces that are highly inclusive but are far from diverse.
In order to understand both diversity and inclusion, we will define the terms.
Diversity is a set of traits, experiences and characteristics that make one person different from another. Usually, when talking about diversity in the workplace, the emphasis lies on the visible specter of diversity such as race, gender or age.
However, that’s only one aspect of diversity. Broadly speaking, there are four categories of diversity:
Now, let’s take a look at inclusion in the workplace.
Diversity was the “what”, while inclusion is the “how.”
Inclusion is the process of welcoming, accepting and providing a comfortable workplace to all of your employees. That’s why a place can be diverse, but not inclusive. The company can have practices with which they employ diverse individuals, but not have practices that include those employees in the workplace.
An inclusive workplace is respectful, affirming and welcoming to employees regardless of their diversity.
A great workplace would have both a diverse workforce and inclusive practices that would welcome that diversity. These two concepts work perfectly with one another, complementing each other and dealing with each other’s blind spots.
Companies that conflate diversity and inclusion can create plenty of problems.
The risks of conflating diversity and inclusion
Even though the terms diversity and inclusion are closely related, they shouldn’t be treated as the same thing.
If a company treats diversity and inclusion as the same thing, but only focuses on diversity, it can create the following scenarios:
- Hiring diverse people to fill the quota, but not doing anything to include diverse people in the workplace, or
- Having diverse hiring practices, but not having inclusive cultural practices.
If a company treats diversity and inclusion as the same thing, but only focuses on inclusion, it can create the following scenarios:
- Having inclusive practices, but not investing in hiring people with diverse backgrounds, and
- Having a single-minded workforce which can lead to a lack of innovation and creativity.
So companies need to work both on diversity and inclusion and treat them as two separate elements in the workplace.
How diversity and inclusion work together
Diversity and inclusion aren’t “nice to have” things in the workplace; they’re essential for a successful business. They positively impact so many different elements in the workplace such as:
- Employee job satisfaction. Employees who believe that their company will treat them and their colleagues the same no matter their ethnicity, gender or race, are more likely to enjoy their jobs. According to GreatPlaceToWork.com research, employees are 9.8 times more likely to look forward to going to work and 6.3 times more likely to take pride in their work.
- Profitability. A McKinsey research found that the most diverse companies are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability. On top of that, if they have highly diverse executive teams as well, the likelihood of higher-than-average profitability increases to 25%.
- Innovation. According to Josh Bersin’s report, highly diverse companies are 1.8 times more likely to be willing to change and adapt to the market. On top of that, they’re 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their perspective markets.
- Lead generation. VantageCircle found out that there’s a high number of people that wouldn’t even apply for a job if the company isn’t diverse. Over 60% of their black poll takers and more than 30% of their white poll takers said they wouldn’t even apply for a job if the workplace isn’t diverse.
- Fixing mistakes. A Deloitte research found that diverse workplaces are 30% more likely to recognize and spot mistakes in the workplace. So if you have a diverse workplace, you will be able to recognize mistakes early on and fix them before they become too big to handle.
- Capturing new markets. Diverse companies, according to HBR research, are 70% more likely to capture new markets. So having a diverse workplace means that you’ll be able to expand your products easier into a new market.
As the above-mentioned statistics show, there are so many benefits to having diversity and inclusion in the workplace. All companies should work on their diversity and inclusion processes because they can produce massive returns on investment.
Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace
For all companies that want to improve diversity and inclusion in their workplace, they should look into the following processes:
Adding equity into the diversity and inclusion mix
Equity is about fairness and justice. What equity explains to us is that every individual has separate needs and circumstances and they need to get the right amount of resources to reach the same outcomes.
Equity in the workplace means treating everyone fair, but not the same. Some employees might need resource X to accomplish goal Z while others might need resource Y to accomplish the same goal.
For example, the goal would be to calculate a series of numbers. Some employees might need a computer, others might just need a calculator, while a third group might just need a pen and paper. Different needs, different resources, but the same outcome.
With equity, the company should take note of the individual’s needs and give them enough resources so that they can do their tasks.
Implement diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion are practices that provide great returns on investment for every company. No matter the industry, the company should try to implement diversity and inclusion processes in its workplace.
Add equity to the mix and you will get the anti-discrimination trifecta.
For more information about diversity, read Trends in diversity, equity & inclusion for HR.