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The topics of diversity and inclusion are on everybody’s lips these days. For businesses, the concept is taking on a bigger and bigger role when it comes to putting together a successful team and presenting one’s company as an attractive employer. We explain what the terms are all about and how implementing them can benefit your company.
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Diversity and inclusion: definition
Diversity and inclusion are often mentioned in the same breath and do have a lot to do with one another. However, they are actually two separate concepts.
What does diversity mean in a work context?
Diversity refers to the presence of individuals with a variety of characteristics and backgrounds in a group. These characteristics can vary along axes like gender, race, class, sexual identity, religion, disability, and age.
Studies in recent years have shown that teams and companies that place value on having personnel that’s as diverse as possible are more productive, exhibit a higher tolerance for new things, and have higher employee motivation. However, it’s less about working your way through a checklist of potential diversity characteristics and more about discovering gaps and potential. Identifying a lack of diversity as the cause of problems on your team is the first step.
What does inclusion mean in a work context?
The core of inclusion is the idea that everyone - regardless of race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic - should have the same opportunities and access to resources. Every voice should be heard. In the workplace, that means creating a patient, understanding, and respectful environment where everyone feels comfortable and valued. This often involves taking certain practical steps, such as creating wheelchair-accessible office spaces, offering appropriate parental leave and daycare for new parents, setting up systems of accountability for instances of sexual harassment/racism/homophobia, enabling good work-life balance, and making information available in all the languages spoken at the company.
If you’re still struggling with the meaning of diversity and inclusion: Diversity describes the “what” - the different kinds of people - and inclusion describes the “how” - encouraging participation and making sure everyone feels comfortable and welcome. When combined, the idea is to create a work environment in which there are people from a variety of backgrounds who all feel valued and work successfully with one another.
Advantages of diversity and inclusion at work
Numerous studies and statistics show that diversity and inclusion is a worthwhile part of a company’s mission and vision. Some of the concrete benefits of diversity and inclusion for companies are:
- More skills mean better results. Different ways of approaching tasks lead to different results, meaning that new and more creative solutions often come out of diverse teams. Individual productivity is also increased when people are motivated by one another’s skills and knowledge.
- Sales and profits increase. Increased productivity and creativity have a positive effect on the company’s revenue.
- Companies become more attractive for potential new hires. That’s because more and more applicants are paying close attention to the topic of diversity and inclusion when choosing an employer.
- Once hired, employees at companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion tend to stay longer due to the strong team feeling. This means that companies can save money on the processes of hiring and training new team members.
- A company’s corporate image improves overall - and not only in the eyes of applicants. Diversity and inclusion can also be very important for investors and customers.
- Employees will benefit from the social skills they gain on the job. So an inclusive work environment doesn’t just make sense from a business perspective but also from a human perspective.
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