In recent years, diversity in the workplace has become a priority for many companies around the world.
And it’s not without good reason - diversity in the workplace brings many advantages to employers and employees alike.
That said, diversity in the workplace expands beyond just hiring employees of different genders, races, ages, and backgrounds and calling it a day.
As an employer, for example, you should ensure a diverse workplace in all positions and management levels whereas, as an employee, you should strive to be as fully included as all other employees.
So, if you want to learn all about diversity in the workplace, read along!
In this article, we will cover:
- 7 Benefits & 5 Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace
- How to Promote Diversity in the Workplace
- How to Get Hired at a Company That Values Diversity
- 10 Real-Life Examples of Companies Promoting Diversity in the Workplace
- Job-Search Resources for Under-Represented Groups
What Is Diversity in the Workplace?
Diversity in the workplace refers to the acceptance and integration of people of different social backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and life experiences into a company.
Essentially, diversity in the workplace creates a work environment in which all employees, regardless of their age, race, sexual orientation, gender, and other characteristics, feel welcomed, valued, respected, appreciated, and empowered.
As such, workplace diversity doesn’t simply refer to hiring diverse employees - it also means ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and are equally included in the company’s activities.
7 Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity in the workplace can bring many advantages to companies and employees alike, including:
#1. Improves Creativity and Problem-solving
Diversity in the workplace effectively increases creativity by bringing people from different backgrounds together. Similarly, research suggests that exposure to different cultures promotes workplace innovation.
As such, diversity in the workplace can improve your company’s effectiveness and decision-making process by introducing your team to multiple new perspectives. Not to mention, creativity and the ability to see a situation from different standpoints are especially important in problem-solving.
More often than not, a team with similar backgrounds will have similar experiences, opinions, and thought processes. In fact, studies show that diverse teams tend to outperform teams consisting of the best problem-solvers by offering unique input.
As a result, your company can benefit from hiring people from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and demographic groups, since diversity in the workplace inspires out-of-the-box solutions to problems.
#2. Facilitates Personal and Professional Growth
By exposing employees to different perspectives, ways of thinking, skills, and approaches toward work, diversity in the workplace promotes professional growth.
A diverse team can inspire and challenge your employees to think and perform their tasks in a new, fresh way. Essentially, working in a diverse group allows employees to learn from their colleagues and broaden their perspectives.
In turn, diversity in the workplace enables your employees to enhance their critical thinking, brainstorming, and collaboration skills. On top of that, learning to understand and accept different points of view can improve active listening skills and cultivate empathy.
By helping your employees become more open-minded and compassionate, diversity in the workplace also helps to build a stronger and healthier company culture and work environment, thus increasing employee satisfaction.
#3. Expands Talent Pool
Put simply, hiring employees from a specific demographic group limits your company’s options and can lead you to miss out on some very talented candidates.
Engineering, for example, is one of the most male-dominated fields.
However, if you only seek to employ male engineers, you may hinder your company’s success. That’s because gender-diverse teams tend to outperform homogeneous teams in sales, profitability, as well as time and budget management.
What’s more, with over 70% of job seekers reporting diversity as an important factor for evaluating a company, embracing diversity in the workplace can help you attract top talent.
As a result, diversity in the workplace can help you build a team of skilled professionals, thus boosting your business growth.
#4. Boosts Employee Performance
There’s no denying that diversity in the workplace can boost employee satisfaction. It’s only natural that employees that feel heard, accepted, and valued are much more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.
And, since job satisfaction is directly related to job performance, diversity in the workplace can also improve your employee performance, which helps you grow your business.
Not to mention, embracing and celebrating cultural, professional, and other differences can also help your employees to build confidence in their unique skills and abilities.
By empowering your employees, diversity in the workplace can motivate them to put their best foot forward, which can boost employee engagement, productivity, and performance.
#5. Builds Brand Reputation
Diversity in the workplace helps companies to develop their reputation.
Research suggests that customers - Gen Z customers, in particular - pay close attention to company diversity and inclusion policies. As much as 50% of customers prefer to purchase products and services from businesses that embrace and promote diversity.
As such, having an excellent brand reputation is vital not only for hiring the best talent but also for attracting more customers to your business.
In terms of diversity and inclusion, you can build an excellent reputation by:
- Hiring talent from diverse backgrounds.
- Focusing your marketing efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Openly addressing diversity issues and developing a diversity-focused brand voice.
- Donating to organizations that promote diversity.
- Customizing your products and services for different customer groups.
#6. Helps You Understand Your Customers
Chances are, your customer base consists of people from different social groups.
For this reason, diversity in the workplace can help you better understand your customers. By having a team of diverse professionals, you’re able to gain a wider understanding of your customers’ needs.
As such, diversity in the workplace can help you improve your products and services by tailoring them to fit your consumer.
Not to mention, people may be more inclined to interact with your business if it makes them feel seen, heard, and represented. In fact, nearly 60% of consumers report a greater trust in companies that represent their own demographic group in advertisements.
#7. Drives Profitability
By enabling companies to hire top talent, understand their consumer, build a solid reputation, and increase employee performance and creativity, diversity in the workplace helps drive more profits.
Research shows that diversity in the workplace pays off - businesses in the top quartile for ethnic, gender, and racial diversity are 35% more likely to generate more income than the national industry median.
As such, diversity in the workplace supports your company’s financial health and helps you accelerate business growth.
5 Challenges of Achieving Diversity in the Workplace
Despite its many benefits, achieving diversity in the workplace today also faces many challenges.
So, here are the 5 most common challenges of implementing diversity in the workplace you should be prepared for, along with some tips on how to deal with them:
#1. Communication Issues
When you’re hiring people from different social, cultural, ethnic, and other backgrounds, communication can become difficult. That’s even more true for companies that work mostly remotely, as it can be even harder to ensure effective communication virtually.
For example, some of your employees may not be native English speakers, so they might have difficulties expressing themselves in English, causing some things to get lost in translation.
On the flip side, older employees may not understand the expressions and slang that Gen Z employees use and vice versa.
Such communication issues can lead to misunderstandings, which can decrease employee productivity and performance.
For this reason, it’s important that you set clear communication guidelines for your employees, such as encouraging them to ask questions if anything is unclear and avoiding slang that others may struggle to understand.
On top of that, you may want to encourage your employees to improve their communication skills - especially if most of the work takes place online.
#2. Workplace Discrimination
No matter the amount of effort you put into promoting diversity in the workplace, some of your employees may have cognitive biases that can lead to workplace discrimination.
For instance, if your company operates within a male-dominated industry, you may find that some employees doubt their female colleagues’ skills and qualifications for the job.
If you fail to properly address such issues, they can eventually lead to discriminatory attitudes and hostility within the team.
To minimize the risk of workplace discrimination, make sure to clearly communicate your company values.
You may also want to develop a diversity training program for your employees to help them understand the importance and benefits of working in a diverse workplace, which can in turn help in eliminating unconscious biases.
#3. Differing Opinions
Because of their unique upbringing, mindsets, and experiences, diverse employees bring different perspectives to the table.
That said, it’s natural that some of your employees’ opinions may clash. Although this can also happen in homogeneous teams, diverse teams may be more likely to disagree on particular topics.
Conflicting opinions can cause tension between your employees. Not to mention, failure to find a common ground can negatively affect your company’s decision-making processes.
As such, you may want to look into conflict resolution training. It’s also important that you clearly define the appropriate workplace behavior and communication policies to prevent any conflicts from escalating.
#4. Poor Performer Retention
If you’re looking to achieve diversity in the workplace, it’s crucial that you don’t hold onto employees just because they increase your diversity figures.
After all, underperforming, toxic, or simply mediocre employees bring little, if any, value to your business. Actually, bad hires can hurt your business - for example, a company that has 1000 employees can lose $1.2 million per year just for keeping toxic employees.
For this reason, it’s important that you evaluate employees based on their skills, qualifications, and performance instead of the diversity factor alone. Otherwise, bad hires may impede your business’ growth.
#5. Diversity Implementation Issues
Achieving diversity in the workplace can be harder than you would expect if you lack resources and support from your team.
To effectively achieve diversity in your company, make sure to create a detailed diversity implementation plan.
At the very least, this plan should include:
- Your current employee demographics
- Your company’s diversity vision
- Your diversity goals
- Actions that you’ll take to promote diversity in the workplace
- Roles and responsibilities of each department/employee
That said, having a plan isn’t enough - you also want to put it into action. As such, you should inform your team about the reason and the ways you’re planning to ensure diversity in the workplace.
In this regard, you may also want to build a diversity implementation team or designate an employee that will be responsible for the whole diversity implementation process, including searching and hiring diverse employees and resolving any issues should they arise.
5 Ways to Promote Diversity in the Workplace
As you know by now, achieving diversity in the workplace can, at times, be challenging.
So, here are some tips that will help you effectively promote diversity in the workplace:
- Train your employees. To achieve diversity in the workplace, you first need to redefine your hiring process and ensure that your employees are on board with it. Training your employees in diversity can help them develop and improve the skills needed to successfully hire and integrate employees from minority groups into your company.
- Tweak your job postings. Ideally, your job postings should reflect your strive to promote diversity in the workplace. For example, if you’re looking to hire female employees, write a gender-neutral job description. It’s also important that you mention your company values, such as inclusivity and equality, to attract underrepresented candidates.
- Ensure diversity in all positions. Take a look at your senior leadership team. How many of them come from underrepresented groups? You can have hundreds of underrepresented employees, but if just a couple of them are in leadership positions, you might want to rethink your diversity in the workplace strategy.
- Acknowledge all cultural and religious backgrounds. If your employees come from different cultural and religious backgrounds, promote diversity in the workplace by accommodating their cultural or religious practices. For example, ensure that Jewish employees have separate utensils, fridges, and sinks for kosher meals.
- Segment surveys by minority groups. If you conduct employee satisfaction and engagement surveys, make sure to segment them by minority groups. This allows you to see the unique experience that your employees from minority groups have at your company, and spot any problem areas that should be addressed.
How to Get Hired at a Company That Values Diversity - Tips for Employees and Job-Seekers
If diversity in the workplace is essential to you and you’re looking for a job in a company that promotes it, consider the following 5 tips to improve your job search:
- Join professional organizations. To build your network and find a job at a company that embraces diversity in the workplace, become a member of professional organizations that support individuals from minority groups. For example, if you’re a Hispanic lawyer, consider joining the Hispanic National Bar Association.
- Pay close attention to the job posting. The job posting can reveal the company’s stance on diversity in the workplace. For example, companies that practice diversity in the workplace will likely use gender-neutral language instead of gender-coded language (e.g. ‘software engineer’ instead of ‘coding ninja’).
- Do your research. Although many companies have diversity in the workplace stated in their mission, not all of them actually promote diversity and inclusion. So, take a look at their board of directors and leadership team. How many of them are from minority groups? This allows you to see if the company applies diversity principles in practice.
- Express yourself. When you come from an underrepresented group, you may try to hide your uniqueness to maximize your chances of being hired. However, fitting in will only make it harder for you to find a company that values diversity. So, for example, if you’re Muslim, express your individuality during the job interview by wearing a hijab, if that’s what you wear on a day-to-day basis.
- Ask questions. Use your job interview as an opportunity to screen employers by asking diversity-related questions (e.g. ‘What are some ways your company promotes diversity in the workplace?’). This way, you can get a sense of the company's culture and values. If you don’t get clear answers, you may want to look for a job at another company.
30 Types of Diversity in the Workplace
Generally speaking, there are an unlimited number of characteristics that make individuals different from one another. As a result, there are countless types of diversity in the workplace.
While it’s impossible to know about all of them, here are the 30 types of diversity in the workplace that you should take into consideration if you aim to increase workplace diversity:
- Age diversity
- Citizenship status diversity
- Cognitive disability diversity
- Criminal history diversity
- Cultural diversity
- Education diversity
- Ethnic diversity
- Gender expression diversity
- Gender identity diversity
- Ideological diversity
- Income diversity
- Language diversity
- Marital status diversity
- Military experience diversity
- Nationality diversity
- Neurodiversity diversity
- Parental status diversity
- Physical disability diversity
- Political philosophy diversity
- Privilege diversity
- Racial diversity
- Religious and spiritual diversity
- Sex diversity
- Sexual orientation diversity
- Skill diversity
- Social role diversity
- Socioeconomic diversity
- Temperament diversity
- Work experience diversity
- Personality type diversity
10 Statistics About Diversity in the Workplace
Sometimes, numbers and facts speak better than words.
Take a look at what these 10 statistics about diversity in the workplace have to say:
- Fostering diversity in the workplace increases millennial employee engagement by 23%.
- On average, companies with the highest levels of racial diversity generate almost 15 times as much revenue as companies with the lowest levels of racial diversity.
- Women employees make up 39% of the global workforce and account for 54% of all job losses related to COVID-19.
- Inclusive companies have 2.3 times higher cash flow and are 1.7 times more likely to become innovation leaders compared to non-inclusive companies.
- About 4 in 5 Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ employees consider diversity in the workplace as an important factor when choosing a company.
- 7.4% (37 companies) of the 500 largest companies in the United States have female CEOs.
- In 2019, 6.1% of Black and African Americans, as well as 6.1% of American Indians and Native Alaskans, were unemployed, in contrast to the overall unemployment rate of 3.7%.
- In 2021, slightly over 19% of disabled people were employed in the United States.
- In the United Kingdom, 1 in 5 working-age people has a disability. Out of them, 52.7% are employed.
- Out of the 50 U.S. states, only 20 states have laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against LGBTQ+ employees.
10 Real-Life Examples of Companies Promoting Diversity in the Workplace
Whether you’re looking for a workplace that fosters diversity or inspiration for achieving diversity in your company, here are 10 companies that do it right:
#1. Marriott International, Inc.
In 2020, Marriott International, Inc. took first place on DiversityInc’s Top 50 list.
Not to mention, the hospitality company remains among the top 10 most diverse companies since 2016.
Although Marriott International, Inc. promotes diversity in the workplace in many different ways, its Serve 360 plan is, perhaps, the most notable diversity strategy that the company uses.
This $5 million plan helps women, veterans, immigrants, people with disabilities, and other people from underrepresented groups to acquire hospitality skills.
What’s more, Marriott supports and works with over 4,000 diverse-owned businesses around the world, including businesses owned by women, veterans, disabled, and LGBTQ+ people.
Besides being the largest telecommunications company in the world, AT&T is also an advocate for inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
AT&T has a diverse employee base and practices pay equity among all employees, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, and other characteristics.
Moreover, to promote understanding and compassion among colleagues, the company encourages its employees to openly discuss race, sexuality, gender, and religion-related topics.
Mastercard is another company that consistently stays at the top of the list of the most diverse companies.
In addition to other diversity projects, Mastercard is particularly focused on age diversity.
As such, the financial services company puts a ton of effort into helping older employees learn how to effectively use technology.
One of the projects, for example, involves a mentoring program that introduces older employees to social media platforms.
By encouraging older employees to become active on social media, Mastercard’s social media mentoring program helps to reduce the barrier between younger and older generations.
#4. Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is a managed care organization that operates in the United States and has no racial majority among its employees.
Essentially, the organization aims to provide high-quality, culturally-appropriate care to all patients.
As such, to ensure that all employees are on board with their diversity policies, Kaiser Permanente provides all new employees with diversity and inclusion training focused on cultural competency.
On top of that, the physicians at Kaiser Permanente also undergo training to provide top-quality care tailored to the needs of different groups of patients, including LGBTQ+, African American, female patients, and more.
#5. The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company is committed to ‘creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.’
As such, the beverage company has three main goals for fostering diversity in the workplace:
- To create a diverse workforce that reflects their consumers, which includes having women hold half of the senior leadership roles in the company by 2030.
- To achieve equity for all employees, which entails eliminating any unfair practices and policies.
- To create an all-inclusive environment that celebrates uniqueness and empowers people.
On top of that, the Coca-Cola company offers diversity training, a diversity library, and a parental benefits policy that provides all new mothers and fathers with 6 weeks of paid leave.
#6. Accenture PLC
Accenture PLC is an information technology and consulting company based in Ireland that ranked #1 in Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion Index in 2018.
The company primarily focuses on gender equality within its organization.
Not to mention, Accenture PLC provides all employees with diversity training, which includes:
- Diversity awareness helps employees learn the benefits of diversity in the workplace.
- Professional development allows employees from underrepresented groups to develop new skills.
- Diversity management enables team leaders to successfully work with diverse teams.
Similar to Accenture PLC, Sodexo primarily focuses on gender equality.
This French food services company has been committed to advancing women in the workplace for the past two decades.
In 2020, women made up 60% of the company’s board of directors and nearly 40% of the executive committee. For this reason, Sodexo was included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.
Other than gender equality, Sodexo promotes age and sexual orientation diversity.
L’Oréal is a cosmetics company that fosters diversity in the workplace by hiring people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations genders, ages, disabilities, and social backgrounds.
For the past four years, the beauty company has been included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.
On top of that, L’Oréal organizes a number of global initiatives focused on diversity, including:
- Diversity and inclusion training for all employees across the world.
- Workshops in India to increase disability awareness.
- Training for adults from vulnerable communities in Pakistan.
Microsoft is a technology company that’s committed to promoting both diversity in the workplace and diversity in global communities.
For this reason, Microsoft not only pursues and hires employees from diverse backgrounds but also partners with minority-owned companies, helping them to become the next leaders in the technology industry.
What’s more, the technology company supports organizations that work to improve digital literacy, awards scholarships to high school students with disabilities interested in the technology industry, and organizes technology workshops for high school girls.
#10. Lenovo Group Limited
The Chinese technology company Lenovo Group Limited is one of the best workplaces for LGBTQ+ people, and not without good reason.
For the past 4 years, the technology company received a score of 100 on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which evaluates companies based on LGBTQ+ workplace equality.
Not to mention, Lenovo also focuses its efforts on promoting gender equality. Besides having a workforce that consists of 36% female employees, Lenovo also has a foundation that aims to empower women and increase the number of women in technology.
Job-Search Resources for Under-Represented Groups
Here are some useful resources for job-seekers from underrepresented groups:
- Insight Into Diversity - This magazine on diversity and inclusivity has a useful ‘Jobs’ section that helps to connect diverse employers with diverse candidates.
- Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) - A program that offers job training, employment accommodation, resume writing, and other job search-related resources for veterans.
- Ticket to Work - A free training program for 18-64-year-old people with disabilities that are looking for a job.
- Association for Women in Science - An association that helps women find employment opportunities in science.
- AbilityOne.gov - Here you can find jobs for blind people and people with severe disabilities.
- How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023 | Beginner's Guide - A comprehensive guide on writing a cover letter that will help you win over your competition.
- Career Women - This website helps women find professional opportunities.
- 7+ Tips on How to Find a Job After Rehab - Our guide on finding a job after recovering from substance abuse.
- Hispanic/Latino Professional Association - An association that unites Hispanic/Latino employees and helps with employment.
- How to Make a Resume in 2023 | Beginner's Guide - This guide will teach you how to write a job-landing resume.
- National Association of African Americans in Human Resources - An association that promotes the career development of Black and African American HR professionals.
- Pride at Work - This organization promotes workplace equality for LGBTQIA+ people.
- American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity - This non-profit organization supports equal opportunities for all people, offers training and education, and has a useful career page.
Whether you’re looking for a job that supports diversity or want to promote diversity in your company, by now you should have a better understanding of diversity in the workplace.
Before you go, here’s a quick recap of the most important points mentioned in this article:
- Diversity in the workplace refers to the inclusion, acceptance, empowerment, and fair treatment of employees of all backgrounds.
- Some of the benefits of diversity in the workplace include increased creativity, professional growth, employee performance, and profitability.
- Conflicting opinions, miscommunication, and workplace discrimination are among the main challenges of achieving diversity in the workplace.
- Using gender-neutral language in your job postings, providing your employees with diversity training, and accommodating all religious and cultural backgrounds are effective ways to promote diversity in the workplace.
- To find a job at a company that embraces diversity in the workplace, join professional organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion, research the company, and ask diversity-related questions during the job interview.