Building a diverse & inclusive workforce
Diversity and inclusion within the workplace are powerful assets in producing a superior workforce. Research has shown that the benefits of diversity enable a workforce to gain increased adaptability, a wider combination of skills and experience, a greater variety of alternative problem-solving techniques, greater levels of trust and social cohesion. Diverse and inclusive workplaces are often characterised by high performance, innovation, greater creativity, and a broader talent pool. These benefits produce greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness, with diverse workforces showing greater profitability.
A diverse workplace is not necessarily synonymous with an inclusive workforce. A workplace can be diverse yet not inclusive. As defined by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), diversity is characterised by the human differences between people in relation to a professional and social context. This includes but is not limited to, visible characteristics such as age, body size, visible disabilities, race, or gender and non-observable characteristics such as attitudes, values, beliefs, religion and sexual orientation.
Inclusion refers to the degree to which employees feel like they belong within an organisation. This includes acceptance, fairness and respect amongst colleagues which contributes to a safe and empowering workplace for all. It is fundamental for an organisation to have inclusion in order to maximise diversity.
Building diversity within the workplace comes with a horde of challenges including:
- Communication differences: cultural and language barriers create ineffective communication which may result in lack of teamwork, low morale, confusion and misdirection.
- Resistance to change: employees who refuse to accept new social and cultural changes to the workplace inhibit diversity progression.
- Successful Implementation of diversity workplace policies: A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for all organisations.
To build a diverse and inclusive workplace PeopleStart recommend:
Minimise resistance to change
Minimising employee resistance to change can be managed by having candid conversations with all individuals within the workplace. Communicating the change will raise awareness around the need for diversity and inclusion and will highlight the reality surrounding confronting issues such as discrimination within the workplace. These conversations create an open and safe space for employees to share their perspective, ideas and opinions and gain newer insight. This creates a sense of equal value amongst all employees and will enable a better understanding of what diversity workplace policies may fit in with the organisation.
Diversity training can be an effective tool in improving the cultural knowledge, skills and awareness of employees. Training programs will enable the development of a more effective line of communication and engagement with people from all backgrounds. This will increase the social cohesion of the workplace and minimise confusion and misdirection.
Diversity and inclusion within the workplace are paramount in producing an effective and high performing workforce. It is a beneficial outcome from a business perspective and is also an ethically responsible practice which benefits both employees and the organisation as a whole.
PeopleStart Human Resources