What’s the future of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace can be a bit confusing for organisations and the stakes are high if they get it wrong. We take a look at the future of diversity and inclusion, how it’s likely to evolve in the coming years, and the potential benefits.
Did you know, the first openly gay pub opened in London in 1912? From the beginning of the 20th Century, immense progress has been made in the area of equality and diversity in society.
Things took a little longer in the workplace. But there was a key moment in 1920 when the Sex Discrimination Removal Act was passed. This opened up the legal and accountancy profession to women for the first time.
However, there’s more to consider than gender diversity alone. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is vital to an organisation in multiple ways and not just from a cultural perspective. Let’s take a closer look.
Diversity in the workplace
When it comes to defining diversity in the workplace, there are numerous forms to consider. These include:
Cultural diversity in the workplace is based on ethnicity and the characteristics instilled in us from the society that we’re brought up in.
Examples of racial diversity include African, Asian, and Caucasian.
Religious diversity relates to a workforce made up of those with differing religious beliefs, including those who have none.
A diverse workplace has a wide range of people of different ages. Think Millennials and Generation Z working side by side.
Gender and sexual orientation
A diverse work environment has a mix of different genders and sexual orientations. The evolution of our understandings of gender mean that companies must keep up to remain inclusive.
Disability encompasses both physical and mental disabilities. As part of improving diversity in the workplace, companies have to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate an employee with a disability.
Many of these forms of diversity are actually protected by law. This means that discrimination against any of the protected characteristics is illegal (as this article about discrimination by ACAS explains).
There are also additional types of diversity to consider such as:
Worldview and opinions
These characteristics are harder to identify, or even group. However, if your company intends to fully embrace diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace, then they should also form part of your inclusion strategy.
The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace
Whether you’re looking at the future of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, or at diversity in business right now, you’ll find that there are some key benefits.
The bottom line is that a diverse work environment leads to companies that perform better. If you’re not convinced, take a look at these figures:
Greater creativity as people bounce ideas off a wider range of people.
With these benefits in mind, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking that promoting diversity and inclusion in your workplace is a sound strategy. But how should you go about this?
How can you promote diversity and inclusion in your workplace?
One thing that promoting diversity and inclusion isn’t, is giving certain groups preferential treatment. Promoting diversity and inclusion is about offering equal opportunities to all. This will allow your company to find, hire, and work with the most talented individuals from all walks of life.
Companies that excel in diversity and inclusion
There are many companies that are doing a great job when it comes to managing diversity and inclusion. However, there are some companies that are totally killing it in this area. Here’s a look at just three companies featured in the Diversity Inc Top 50 Best Companies for Diversity:
This company is a giant in the financial services sector. Mastercard makes regular appearances in the Top 10 of Diversity Inc’s list. From a quick glance, the company’s stance on diversity in business is a positive indication that diversity is fundamental to the way they run their business. Here’s what Mastercard have to say about the topic:
As a business operating in the hospitality and tourism industry, Marriott International has reaped the rewards of its approach to diversity. This is a business that has previously won awards including the ‘World’s Best Multinational Workplace’.
Back in 2016, this business also won the ‘Best Place to Work for LGBT+ Equality’. This was on the back of the company achieving a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index. This is an accepted means of measuring diversity and inclusion. It was also one of the top-rated businesses in 2022 by The Human Rights Campaign.
Another top 10 business merited for it’s approach to diversity and inclusion is Accenture. This company breaks it down into three key areas:
Diversity awareness – ensuring that everyone understands the benefits of a diverse organisation.
Diversity management – equipping managers with the tools to lead a diverse team.
Professional development – assisting those from minority backgrounds to develop their skills for success.
The future of diversity and inclusionin the workplace
In recent years, companies around the world have made immensely positive steps forward in terms of improving diversity and inclusion. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. Both in terms of changing ingrained attitudes and positively managing diversity and inclusion.
So what changes does the future hold for diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
A more diverse work environment will evolve to create greater openness. This will allow more open discussions around sensitive subjects and help eliminate negative stereotypes.
Challenging unconscious bias
Operating according to bias, whether it’s conscious or not, can harm organisations. When looking at improving diversity in the workplace, it’ll become more important to challenge unconscious bias.
As companies increase their awareness of the benefits of diversity and inclusion, they’ll up their investment in these areas too. This could be in the form of a more widespread rollout of training for employees. Or recruitment drives that promote diversity more openly.
A data-driven approach
A more diverse workforce gives companies the opportunity to harness the power of data. Collecting this data, through people analytics, leads to greater insights and facilitates data-driven decisions.
Diversity in leadership
There are ongoing challenges around the number of women holding top positions in organisations. As further progress is made in the areas of diversity and inclusion, the focus of diversity in leadership will extend beyond gender.
The data surrounding the benefits to organisations of having a diverse and inclusive workplace speak for themselves. As the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace become more well-known, the curve of companies embracing diversity and inclusion will see a huge uptick.
But let’s not forget that diversity and inclusion isn’t simply a strategic aim. Every individual, irrespective of where they’re from, the colour of their skin, to the way they choose to live their lives, deserves equal opportunities in all aspects of life. Not just the workplace.
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