Often used in tandem with each other, diversity vs inclusion are two different concepts. However, both are important to help your organization grow healthily, successfully, and happily. In simple terms, diversity is the makeup of any organization. Inclusion, on the other hand, focuses on creating an environment that enables all employees to participate and thrive. 

In this article, we go through the diversity vs inclusion debate, focusing on their differences, the benefits of having D&I in the workplace, and how it leads to the success of an organization.

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Diversity vs Inclusion

The difference between diversity and inclusion in the workplace is that diversity is the presence of people of different races, ethnicity, gender, etc. Inclusion is the practice of making sure that people feel ‘included’ in the organization, embraced, valued, and safe. To further classify the distinction of diversity vs inclusion, let’s think of diversity as the practice of bringing different people into the same territory. 

Let’s tear down the definitions of both diversity vs inclusion:

What is Diversity in the Workplace?

Having diversity in the workplace means that the company employs people regardless of any differences and similarities like individual beliefs, characteristics, race, background, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Diversity is all the elements that an organization is composed of. 

In the U.S, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces a law that prohibits discrimination against employees based on their race, color, sex, age, disability, or genetic information. 

So what’s important to achieve a diverse workplace? The ability to embrace different perspectives. For instance, you can hire more Africans or Asians but if the culture at your organization doesn’t embrace different perspectives, it will be hard to have diversity. Be it diversity or inclusion, both cannot thrive in a close-minded culture that doesn’t look past their own perspectives. Similarly, you can’t have diversity without inclusion. Both diversity vs inclusion goes hand in hand.


What is Inclusion In the Workplace?

Inclusion, on the other hand, is the practice of building such a work environment that offers equal opportunities, resources, and autonomy to work for mutual goals. Inclusion is all about treating employees fairly and respectfully. In an inclusive workplace, every employee feels welcomed, valued, and has the opportunity to work their best no matter what background, religion, race, or sex they come from.

To have inclusion in the workplace, you need to make sure everyone feels seen and heard. However, creating an environment that is safe for everyone, doesn’t come without its challenges and needs constant support. As the diversity in the company increases, the importance of inclusion rises even more. In addition, all the team members need to feel psychologically safe and included to bring diversity’s benefits to light.

According to a Harvard study, out of diversity, equity, inclusion, inclusion is the most difficult metric to track. According to SHRM, you can take a few steps (more on this later) that promote inclusion in your organization for instance:

  • Build an inclusive culture by forming an inclusive team that helps you set goals, hire and retain the workforce. You need to develop a baseline and goals for diversity and inclusion.
  • You should highlight that you are a diverse organization. To do that take small steps like building a private space for mothers who breastfeed. And a prayer room for employees who practice their religion. Allowing 15 minutes every Friday for Muslims to pray means a great deal to those individuals. 
  • Create groups that help employees feel safe, share thoughts, discuss their interests in a nonjudgmental way. For instance, having an employee resource group for all the women in the organization. Similarly, a group for the LGBTQ community. One benefit of this practice is that employees feel safe, valued, and respected for who they are. 
  • To reflect a diverse workforce update your brand material and language. 

Benefits of having Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Having diversity and inclusion in the workplace comes with many business benefits. Let’s have a look at some of these:

Higher Revenue 

Hiring people from all kinds of backgrounds and allowing diversity in your organization means that you generate higher revenue. Research finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. 

Leads Path to Innovation

Having a diverse workforce means the generation of new ideas, new perspectives, and new experiences. D&I leads to the path of innovation. Research shows that The positive relationship between management diversity and innovation is statistically significant, meaning that companies with higher levels of diversity get more revenue from new products and services.

In addition, the research tells us that the innovation boost doesn’t come from one specific group of people. Whether it is females, employees from other countries, or a different race, all can lead to innovation.

Helps with Recruitment and Retention 

A Glassdoor survey reveals that 3 in 4 (76%) job seekers and employees today report that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. 

About 4 in 5 Black (80%), Hispanic (80%), and LGBTQ (79%) job seekers and employees report a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.

All the stats reveal that if an organization is doing more for diversity vs inclusion, they have a higher chance of recruitment and retaining the employees.

Attracts New Talent

Companies with a diverse workforce are more likely to attract a new market audience. On the other hand, those organizations that don’t promote D&I are less likely to receive new applicants. Nearly 2 in 5 employees and job seekers (37%) would not apply to a job at a company where there are disparities in employee satisfaction ratings among different ethnic/racial groups.

Reduces Turnover

High turnover rates can be costly for your organization. Practicing diversity and inclusion in the company is one step to reduce turnover. Nearly half of Black (47%) and Hispanic (49%) job seekers and employees have quit a job after witnessing or experiencing discrimination at work, significantly higher than white (38%) job seekers and employees.

Boosts Creativity 

Hiring people of different races, ethnicity, background, sex, or different religions leads to a creativity boost in the company. A 2017 Harvard Business Review study found that successful teams had more cognitive diversity. In addition, another Harvard study shows that teams solve problems more effectively when they’re more cognitively diverse.

More Profit and More Customers 

A study published in the American Sociological Review found that companies that focus more on having a diverse workforce have higher sales revenue, more customers, above-average market share, and high profitability.

How to Create a Diverse and Inclusive Environment at Work?

Now that we’ve established some understanding of both diversity vs inclusion, let’s take a look at how to put a plan into action. There are a number of ways to build a diverse and inclusive work environment and culture:

Diversity and Inclusion Go Hand in Hand

Diversity vs inclusion, both can’t operate without each other. To have inclusion at the workplace you need to make sure you practice diversity at your workplace. When those employees who ate different from the rest of the team are allowed to thrive in a similar environment, the company benefits from the new ideas, their creativity, skills, and innovation. Having an environment that promotes D&I, ultimately leads to high retention rates. 

Educate Your Leaders 

Everything begins with the leaders and therefore it is important for you to educate them on the importance of having diversity and inclusion in the organization. This should be done in order to prevent unconscious bias that is done when we make judgments about their race, color, or gender without realizing we’re doing it. Leaders are at the forefront of any organization and therefore educating them is important.

Form an Inclusion Committee

Forming an inclusion council with genuine influence and power that is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion is another step to take. These committees should be committed to setting goals, planning hiring strategies, and planning retention strategies for the underrepresented employee groups. 

The councils should be diverse. Meaning they should consist of members of different ethnicity, race, or gender in order to promote genuineness and transparency at all levels. For instance, in the committee, the members can be women, people of color, and other minority groups.

Diverse workforce

Hear what Your Employees Have to Say

When you establish a diverse workforce, the net step is to ensure inclusivity. In order to cultivate an inclusive environment, you should be aware of what kind of environment your employees want. Creating an environment where all employees feel closely knit like a family is a key to establishing an inclusive workplace. Just like in a family people raise concerns, discuss their issues and work together to solve them, an inclusive environment follows the same footsteps. 

Make Meetings at Office more Effective

Danny Guillory, head of global diversity and inclusion at San Rafael, California-based Autodesk, a global software company, shares the following ideas to foster an environment of D&I:

  • According to Guillory meetings are a great place to start with. Before conducting a meeting share the meeting material with everyone beforehand. This gives time to many employees who need time to prepare and is especially helpful to those employees that don’t speak English as their first language.  
  • Make sure you have the right technology and equipment to facilitate participants. In addition, always welcome their queries and ask them questions. You should always provide them equal opportunity to participate in conversations in order to have a meaningful experience.
  • For those employees who have time zones different than yours, rotate the meetings. Make everyone feel they’re valued so they don’t feel left out.
  • Always appreciate ideas that your employees give. When someone is recognized for an idea that someone else put forward earlier in the meeting, point out who shared the idea originally, says Guillory.
  • Make sure everyone feels seen and heard. You should also ensure active debate while being courteous. 

Set SMART Goals and Work on Them

Lastly, it’s important to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound SMART goals in order to achieve utmost success. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are our inclusive goals? 
  • What are we doing to promote diversity and inclusion at our organization?
  • How will practicing an environment of diversity vs inclusion help us grow and become successful?

Ready to Practice Diversity and Inclusion at Your Workplace?

The whole diversity versus inclusion debate tells us that both terms are complementary and depend on each other. Without one, you cannot have the other.  The article tells us that organizations that manage to make their diversity vs inclusion efforts work benefit from better financial results, a higher degree of innovation, and improved employee retention

However, building an inclusive culture can not be done in a single day. You can seek help from the ways mentioned in this article to promote diversity and inclusion in your organization and grow even more. 

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