Diversity vs Inclusion: What Employers Need to Know


What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

What are the impacts of diversity on your business?

How can employers improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Diversity vs Inclusion: What Employers Need to Know

Issues around diversity and inclusion have never been more important, and these are two things organisations can no longer afford to ignore and simply pay lip service to.

In this article we’re going to look at the difference between diversity and inclusion, and why it’s important for organisations to embrace both.

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion might cross over in certain ways, but there are important differences that are important to understand.

What is diversity in the workplace?

Diversity refers to the demographics and identifiers of a group of people.

For an organisation to have a workplace that is considered diverse, it needs to recruit people with a variety of unique characteristics. These characteristics include:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Region
  • Economic background
  • Sexual orientation
  • Education
  • Disability

What is inclusion in the workplace?

Inclusion refers to the methods, policies and procedures that an organisation can use to hire and integrate a diverse workforce.

For example, are you taking steps to ensure the pool of candidates you are hiring from is diverse? A famous example of this at work is the ‘Rooney Rule’, which requires teams competing in the US’ National Football League to interview ethnic minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations roles.

Inclusion policies are also important post-hire. For example, are team building activities inclusive for disabled employees? These policies are designed to ensure everyone within the organisation is treated with respect and is able to thrive within the working environment.

What are the impacts of diversity on your business?

Ensuring your organisation is diverse and inclusive isn’t just about doing the right thing or generating positive PR. There are a number of tangible business benefits too.

Diversity boosts your bottom line

After analysing over 350 public companies operating in the UK, North America and Latin America, McKinsey’s report ‘Diversity Matters’ found a significant difference on financial returns.

Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians.

Increase your market share

If your workforce is more diverse and able to offer a varied worldview based on a broad range of experiences, your organisation is more likely to not only increase market share, but also capture a new market.

Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that employees working within diverse workplaces were 45% more likely to report a growth in market share, and 70% more likely to report capturing a new market.

Boost creativity and innovation

The most successful organisations are often the most creative, and facilitating innovation is one of the key benefits of diversity. After all, working alongside people with diverse backgrounds will introduce diverse ways of thinking.

Studies have backed this up too.

Research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, found diverse groups of people clearly outperform non-diverse groups.

Better decision making

It’s not just that diverse teams are more creative - they make better decisions too.

In fact, research found that diverse workforces are better at making decisions a massive 87% of the time compared to non-diverse teams. 

Improve talent acquisition

A Gallup report titled ‘How Millennials Want To Work and Live’ found that 87% of that cohort wanted to work somewhere that offered career and professional growth opportunities - and diversity is key to that.

So much so that one third of job seekers wouldn’t apply for a company that lacked diversity among its workforce.

How can employers improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Improving diversity and inclusion within the workplace requires education and a concerted effort on the part of the organisation, but there are a number of things you can do that will have a big impact.

Educate staff on the benefits of diversity

For diversity and inclusion to work it needs a cultural shift, and this requires the buy-in of everyone within the organisation. A good way to start is with education.

You can run training sessions for internal recruiters on the importance of hiring a diverse workforce and put in place seminars for all staff on the basic concepts of diversity. Also be prepared to answer questions, and in some cases handle objections and challenges from your workforce about why cultivating a more diverse workplace is so important.

Review recruitment practices

Built-in bias within the recruitment process is not always easy to spot, so review your recruitment processes carefully. Is there any language within job descriptions that could indicate a bias towards certain types of people?

Whether you use an external recruiter or handle it internally, make sure they’re not prioritising people who fit within the existing workforce. This requires more than simply emphasising the need to interview people from a range of backgrounds, and often needs to be formalised in your recruitment guidelines. For example, you can implement ‘blind’ recruitment, which removes any and all identifiable details from a candidate’s CV and application.

Offer more flexible working

Since the pandemic, workers are wanting much more flexibility from their employers. Over 80% of employees would stay in a job longer if they were offered flexible working arrangements, while 37% are willing to quit their job and move to a company that does.

However, work flexibility is also an important inclusion policy. Requiring employees to be in the office Monday to Friday, 9-to-5 every day can be discriminatory for a number of reasons, for example:

  • Childcare commitments, for example the school run, often falls to women more than men.
  • The layout or location of the workplace could make it difficult for disabled employees to get into the office.
  • The demands of social settings can negatively impact those with neural diversity or mental health issues.

Ensure you’re providing inclusive recognition and rewards

One of the big benefits for organisations of having a more diverse workforce is what it does to their bottom line, and recognition and rewards is also key to this. Research by Deloitte found that the presence of a recognition programme makes it 12x more likely your organisation has strong business outcomes. What’s more, recognition has been shown to be the number one driver of great work.

However, your rewards and recognition programme isn’t going to be successful unless it’s working for your entire workforce.

With this in mind, you need to think about the needs of all your staff, and whether or not they’re being catered for. For example, the stereotypical Christmas party involves a boozy night out, but this wouldn’t be enjoyed by all kinds of people for various reasons, such as:

  • People who don’t drink for religious, cultural or personal reasons
  • Neuro-diverse people who struggle in social situations
  • People who struggle with mobility
  • Remote workers who can’t get to an onsite event

The same can be true of team building exercises that require everyone to be in one place, or rewards packages that offer limited flexibility.

This is why the rewards and recognition platform we offer is built with flexibility in mind. Our range of eVouchers, gift cards and our prepaid recognition card is an easy way to reward employees instantly, while empowering them to spend their rewards on the things that matter to them.

Our range of employee gift cards offers unrivalled choice, while our recognition prepaid card can be used online or instore anywhere that accepts Visa.

What’s more, your dedicated and experienced account manager will work with you to identify the best selection of rewards for your organisation and staff. We’ve been working with organisations just like yours for over 60 years, and in that time we’ve gained expertise that is second-to-none in the employee rewards space.

Want to find out more about how we can help you deliver a diverse and inclusive rewards programme? Contact the team here at Sodexo Engage today.









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