If you’re a business owner or manager, listen up. You’ve probably heard the terms diversity & inclusion before. However, the message behind these terms has gotten lost in office politics.
Diversification and inclusion isn’t about hiring an employee to meet a quota based on ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, disability, sexuality, education or religion.
They are about hiring an employee because their differences provide them a unique perspective. It is about valuing them as an employee regardless of these factors.
While these may hardly seem like issues we’re still facing in the 21st century, let’s consider these facts:
- Men are 30% more likely than women to be promoted from entry- level positions to manager (Women in the Workplace).
- Only 5 out of all Fortune 500 companies have African American CEOs (CDC, Diversity Inc.).
- 40% of people think there’s a double-standard against hiring women—both men and women are more likely to hire men over women (Pew).
- 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers (Glassdoor).
- 57% of employees think their companies should be more diverse (Glassdoor).
- 41% of managers say that they are “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives (SHRM).
Despite this, a report from the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, found that, non-white individuals made up 33% of the workforce in 2012. Women made up nearly 50% of the workforce. To increase these numbers, CEOs will have to initiate diversity and inclusion practices.
“We’re getting better year over year at understanding the importance of valuing diverse inputs and respecting our differences in ways that foster trust and collaboration”, says Erika Hopkins, head of inclusion and diversity at Staples Inc.
In fact, a recent study conducted by Stephanie N. Downey (University of Georgia), Lisa van derWerff (Dublin City University), Kecia M. Thomas (University of Georgia) and Victoria C. Plaut (School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, found a correlation between feelings of inclusion among employees whom had diverse backgrounds and their overall workplace engagement.
The study surveyed over 4,000 health sector employees and concluded that when diversity practices were effective and fostered high levels of inclusion workplace engagement was high.
The effectiveness of these diversity practices, according to the study, were largely dependent upon the “trust climate” of the workplace. If an employee of a diverse background felt that the diversity practices of the organization fostered inclusion then they were likely to act in service of the organization.
Dr. Duperval Brownlee of Ascension, a faith-based healthcare organization, spoke to this fact in Equal Opportunity magazine and suggested the key to breaking the barriers within an organization:
“It’s [Ascension] one of the nation’s largest non-profit healthcare systems, but I’ve found that ours is a culture where people come to work mission-led, whatever their position. […] Because of it, we’re more collaborative and inclusive and respectful of each other. We’re connected to a purpose bigger than us.”
Burns, C., Barton, K. & Kerby, S. (12 July 2012). The state of diversity in today’s workforce. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2012/07/12/11938/the-state-of-diversity-in-todays-workforce/
Downey, van derWerff, Thomas and Plaut as qtd. in Deloitte. (May 2015). The role of diversity practices and inclusion in promoting trust and employee engagement. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/human-capital/articles/role-diversity-practices-inclusion-trust-employee-engagement.html
Equal Opportunity: The Career Magazine. (Spring 2017, Ascension’s Duperval-Brownlee delivers purposeful patient care. Equal Opportunity: The Career Magazine, 50, 22.
Equal Opportunity: The Career Magazine. (Spring 2017, Managers speak out!: Valuing diversity & inclusion fosters trust & collaboration at staples. Equal Opportunity: The Career Magazine, 50, 9.
Stutes, B. (1 December 2016). The state of US workplace diversity in 14 statistics. Retrieved from http://archpointgroup.com/the-state-of-us-workplace-diversity-in-14-statistics/