Diversity and Inclusion are more than just buzzwords, they are how top performing businesses attract top talent. You may have seen the terms Diversity and Inclusion used in newspapers, recruitment or been asked by your boss, but what do they mean?
What is diversity?
Diversity means understanding that each individual is unique. The diversity of individuals can include age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, beliefs, education, and disability or physical abilities.
The diversity of people should be celebrated and encouraged, especially in the workplace, however, acknowledging and planning for a diversity in the workplace has been an issue for a while in business. Improper planning and management of different work styles, personalities, cultures and the needs of those individuals can lead to cases of discrimination.
What is workplace diversity?
Diversity in the workplace is recognising that the individuals that make up the organisation have differences. This could extend to the differences mentioned before like age, race, gender, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, education but can also extend to various personalities, working styles and methods.
Workplace diversity is beneficial for businesses as it encourages different opinions, approaches to problems and ideas that all help push organisations forward by encouraging innovation in products and processes. The organisation will also benefit from the sharing of different experiences, knowledge, and skills amongst employees which can encourage learning, healthy competition and has shown to keep staff morale up.
Having an openly diverse workforce can make it easier to attract top differential talent to the company as it is seen as being inclusive and progressive which will attract various backgrounds, cultures, and demographics of people to the company.
What is inclusion?
Inclusion is the second part of diversity, where all employees feel they are being valued and their skills acknowledged and appreciated. In an inclusive workplace, all demographics of people feel like they are being heard and can share ideas and perspectives across levels. However, inclusion can have different meanings to different generations.
Studies have found that Millennials, ages 20-37, believe that inclusion is a collaborative working environment that encourages open participation with the sharing of ideas, opinions, and perspectives. They believe that leadership in this environment should be transparent, engaging and communicative, which all leads to a positive business impact.
Baby Boomer’s and gen-Xers believe that inclusion for the business environment is the integration of individuals of different demographics such as age, gender, sexuality, religion and ethnic minorities in the workplace. They believe that it is a moral and legal imperative, essentially the right thing to do to achieve compliance and legality.
Regardless of the interpretations of inclusion, having an inclusive workplace is beneficial for a company and its bottom line. When employees feel like they are being valued and listened to, they are happier, staff morale is high which leads to an increase in productivity.
Why is flexible working important for diversity and inclusion?
In short: flexible working breeds diversity and inclusion because it opens up different working hours for different demographics of people who cannot simply commit to the 9-5. Flexible working encourages employers to think differently about how they can accommodate their employees so they do not exclude someone who is a carer and may need to take a loved one to the hospital or a parent who has to do the school run.
Flexible working opens up the world of work to large demographic talent pools. Having this open to existing employees, who may need differing flexibilities, will help attract candidates to your organisation as you appear to value employee’s needs.