Workplace diversity is a growing topic of discussion between employers and hiring managers. Diversity is not just an inclusion fad, but it has tangible and direct benefits in the workplace. To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, there needs to be an inclusive workplace culture in place.
What is a Workplace Diversity?
Diversity in the workplace happens when an employer is intentionally and actively hiring employees with diverse backgrounds. Specifically, employees may vary in gender, religion, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, or other attributes.
A diverse working group of individuals in the workplace means that they have distinct characteristics and backgrounds. Most of the time, this diversity also leads to various skills and experiences and thus different perspectives. This plurality is beneficial, especially to planning or executing a business strategy.
But a diverse workforce is not always enough. To make use of all the untapped potential of diversity, businesses need to create an enabling inclusive workplace.
Why do we Need an Inclusive Workplace Culture?
Having understood what cultural diversity means to an organization, now we need to understand the fine line between diversity and inclusive workplace culture. The truth is that a diverse company is not necessarily an inclusive one. An inclusive workplace is the glue that allows diversity to work at full capacity.
But in order for diversity to work, organizations need to work hard on cultivating a culture of respect, equality, encouragement, and reinforcement. Understandably, employees will always be too afraid to embrace their true selves and be authentic without the above characteristics. Indeed, it is authenticity and the resulting feeling of belongingness that enables employee engagement and increases productivity.
Examples of Inclusiveness in The Workplace
We frequently hear or read about large organizations and their diverse workforce. But some companies are becoming diverse for the wrong reasons. Creating a corporate newsletter about your company’s achievements on how diverse you are is undoubtedly valuable, but it is devoid of meaning. The real benefit comes out of fulfilling the difficult task of actually putting diversity into action.
There are several ways that an organization can foster an inclusive workplace culture.
- Celebrate diverse holidays. Depending on the diversity of your team, organizations can celebrate diverse holidays together. By doing so, not only will it raise the cultural awareness of colleagues, but they will also feel valued. In other cases, management can provide day-offs to employees who wish to celebrate.
- Establish a buddy system. A buddy system is an excellent way to get new employees started. It is also a perfect way to create closer connections between employees and cultivate a culture of understanding.
- Enhance your product with diversity. Different perspectives and backgrounds can only have a positive outcome on your business product. Innovation and creativity are both inspired from diverse perspectives rather than homogeneity.
- Receive feedback and act on it. The employees of an organization are the most valuable asset. Businesses with diverse employees should actively seek feedback from them and proactively take action. These actions should be in the direction of creating a comfortable and inclusive working environment for all.
- Use anonymous recruiting. This type of recruiting is ideal for eliminating unconscious biases. The idea is that applications do not include personal details like photos, names, and gender so that candidates are purely compared to their skills and experiences.
- Train and develop diverse employees. Employees are the future of any business, and as such, they should develop professionally. Simultaneously, training in cultural sensitivity and inclusion is essential to create an inclusive workplace culture.
RESPECT Project and Inclusive Culture
Having a diverse workforce is beneficial to all organizations as diversity offers a variety of skills and perspectives. But for diversity to work, as it is also an area of conflict, the management needs to cultivate an inclusive culture.
RESPECT is an Erasmus+ project that focuses on minority youth and their employment prospects. Firstly, this collaboration strengthens the professional development of a diverse group of young people. Secondly, it equips the partner organizations with the necessary skills to manage cultural diversity and create an inclusive culture.
To learn more about RESPECT, click here.