What is Diversity and Inclusion?
The terms diversity and inclusion are two interrelated concepts that are often used interchangeably in the workplace. However, the major distinction between the two is that diversity is about the makeup of the workforce, while inclusion is about creating an environment where everyone is welcome to contribute and given the resources to thrive.
Diversity in the workplace refers to a workforce made up of people from various cultural backgrounds, religions, genders, races, ages, sexual orientations, and physical abilities and disabilities. Meanwhile, inclusion in the workplace refers to the establishment of an environment in which all employees are treated fairly, have access to resources and opportunities, and participate fully in the success of the organization.
To put it simply with a quote by Andres Tapia, “Diversity is a mix and inclusion is making the mix work.” An inclusive workplace has a diversity of people involved, not just present. For diverse groups to work effectively, they need to feel like their input is valued by the company.
The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion foster a sense of belonging among employees. When employees feel more involved at work, they tend to work more efficiently, producing higher quality work, thus benefitting the organization.
Let’s take a look at how implementing D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) practices contribute to the success of your business:
- Ability to recruit a diverse talent pool: Having an inclusive workplace culture will help you attract a diverse set of talent, as well as help you retain your current diverse workforce.
- Retention – When employees feel that their contributions are not being valued by their organization, they will inevitably leave.
- Understand your customers: With a diverse and inclusive team, employees will be able to promote the business to those of similar backgrounds within the intended target audience.
- Increased productivity: A diverse team can learn from each other by exchanging unique ideas, thus helping businesses to thrive in a shorter period of time against competitors with a less diverse and inclusive workforce.
- Higher revenue growth: With a D&I workforce, employees will be happier and productivity will increase, thus leading to greater success within the business.
- Greater readiness to innovate: Innovation is a collaborative process. The more diverse the team of people is, the more likely they are to share unique perspectives. These idea combinations lead to more creative, innovative ideas. When you have an amalgamation of ideas, you stand out from companies that only have ‘one voice’.
- Better decision-making: By including your diverse team in decision-making processes, you make minority voices heard, thus giving new perspectives and inspiring employees.
Still not sold on the idea of implementing D&I practices in your workplace? Perhaps these staggering figures may provide you food for thought.
A D&I workplace survey by Glassdoor revealed that 3 in 4 employees and job seekers (76%) report that a diverse workforce is a crucial factor when evaluating job offers from companies. In addition to this, 71% of employees would be more willing to share their experiences and opinions on diversity and inclusion at their current company if they could remain anonymous.
What do these statistics tell us? It tells us that companies that fail to implement a diverse and inclusive workplace are at risk of losing current employees, as well as discouraging new talent from wanting to work there. If D&I is an important factor for your employees, it should be an important factor for you.
How Companies can Practice Diversity and Inclusion
A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone, regardless of their background, feel equally involved and supported in all departments within an organization.
Can you claim to have an inclusive workforce if most of your employees are women, but none of those women are in managerial positions? Are there many employees of color in your department, but all of them work in the same department?
Glassdoor CEO, Christian Sutherland-Wong, ;believes that to change the world, you must change yourself first. He strives to create a more equitable workplace for underrepresented groups at Glassdoor by focusing on the areas with the biggest gaps.
By the end of 2025, Glassdoor’s D&I goals include doubling the current Black representation at Glassdoor from 4% to 8% and increasing the number of women in leadership from 37% to 50%.
But how can this be done? How can you implement diversity and inclusion to improve company culture?
- Establish a sense of belonging
In order for each individual to feel like they can bring their best self forward, a sense of belonging must first be established. When you feel connected to a group of people that allows you to be yourself, it results in greater engagement and creativity in the workplace.
However, these changes take time and aren’t always linear. You will have to go through trial and error to see what works for your organization and be open to trying new things.
- Lead with empathy
HR shouldn’t be the only department working on diversity and inclusion initiatives. For real change to happen, every individual leader needs to buy into the value of belonging, especially those in the C-suite who hold the most power to make sure these D&I practices thrive.
The key to an empathetic workforce requires each person to reflect on a time when they felt excluded in the workplace, so they can apply those lessons outwardly. When leaders reflect on this, it’s a good starting point.
- Understand that inclusion is an ongoing process
There’s no such thing as one-off training when it comes to inclusivity. Simply teaching employees what it means to be inclusive isn’t enough. In order for there to be a change within the company, there needs to be a change in behavior.
Inclusion requires individuals to build new habits. When these habits are pursued in an environment that fosters honest conversations and healthy discussion, real change becomes possible.
- Honor different religious and cultural practices –
Creating an inclusive culture where religious and cultural practices are celebrated benefits engagement and productivity. This can be done by focusing on special holidays, making sure there are kosher/halal food options, or keeping track of significant days for your employees with a cultural calendar.