Companies can establish and maintain productive teams enthusiastic about collaborating through workforce diversity. Various perspectives meld together to form a solid foundation that drives impactful change. Yet, diverse workplaces aren’t as common as you think. How does your business measure up? It’s time to find out.
Workforce diversity is a straightforward concept involving equity, inclusion, and the acceptance of various differences. Psychologists define it as having distinctive cultural, spiritual, racial, or socioeconomic characteristics. However, that vague definition describes virtually everyone since each person is a unique individual. What does it mean on the job, though?
People usually form groups with like-minded others. Yet they can’t always spot the similarities or take advantage of the variables. Meanwhile, appearances aren’t the only thing giving a false first impression. Folks often segregate based on seemingly insignificant factors like race, age, appearance, background, ethnicity, and religion. That can make conversations at the water cooler quite interesting.
Unfortunately, good people can fall through the cracks without intuitive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Workforce diversity means maintaining a mixed bag of personalities, values, and goals to discover and harness exclusive skillsets. You do your business a disservice when you neglect or reject points of view in any department. Imagine how much richer your industry approach would be if you drew support from a more diverse staff.
Variety is the spice of life. That means you must understand diversity in the workplace and find ways to implement equitable programs and methodologies. Learn about the different diversity types first. Then develop comprehensive DEI strategies to promote, support, and encourage your most valuable players.
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Look around you. How many diversity examples can you find in your general vicinity? You’ll likely spot half a dozen differences between everyday objects, natural features, and nearby coworkers. Various traits and behaviors create the human experience to drive innovation in business and beyond. Thus, variety is everywhere you look and ingrained into our very existence.
What are the seven key characteristics of workplace diversity, and why does each type require a different approach? Better yet, what does a diverse workforce look like? Sociologists separate the concept into seven separate categories, as follows:
A person’s race denotes their physical attributes related to dominant examples. For instance, Caucasian people typically share similar features such as light-colored skin and narrow noses. However, African and Latino people may show different characteristics such as melanized skin tones and darker hair colors. Race is a social construct with no biological definition, though. That means racial diversity can happen organically.
Generational diversity involves mixing people from different age groups and eras. Think of a room full of boomers or GenXers, then compare their ideas and behaviors with millennials and GenZers. You’ll uncover countless variables and influences which share who they are. However, intuitive DEI programs can help intergenerational staff coexist under the same roof.
Gender diversity consists of more than maintaining a balance between male and female employees. The modern understanding of gender is a social concept that includes people with alternative gender identities. As the term progresses, inclusive companies must provide a positive, professional, and productive atmosphere regardless of sex or gender.
This diversity type refers to the religious or spiritual background of your staff. The category includes followers from every sacred sect with no exclusions. Whether your crew worships Jesus, Allah, or something else, your duty is to their validation. Companies cannot exclude workers based solely on their personal beliefs, and that’s the law in every state.
Sexual orientation describes a person’s romantic preferences. Thus, it has little to nothing to do with their gender, race, or religion. The LGBTQ+ community represents nearly 3.5% of the United States population, with about 1.8% of those surveyed identifying as bisexual. Inclusive organizations don’t have to celebrate staff sexual orientation to offer a fair shake. However, they must respect their gay and lesbian employees.
Disabilities can range from acute to chronic, affecting a person’s mental, physical, or emotional health. Moreover, specific infirmities can impact an employee’s ability to complete certain tasks. Staff with limitations must receive equitable accommodations to help them go with the flow. DEI-compliant companies should therefore install accessibility features and provide mental health services to those who need them.
Cultural diversity means hiring people with different backgrounds and core values. You can compare it to staffing people from every inch of the globe. A person’s ethnicity and upbringing affect who they become and how they see the world. Yet, having conflicting worldviews in the workplace causes significant challenges. Simple diversity measures might help assuage those disputes, but the rest is up to you.
These seven categories represent the protected characteristics under U.S. law. Therefore, it’s essential to invite each category to your workplace while eliminating diversity biases and implementing affirmative action policies.
The law does not protect all unique traits, excluding some attributes that can shape a person’s worldview. Those unprotected diversity categories are as follows:
- Education and Training
- Personality and Demeanor
- Influences and Associates
- Life Experiences and Opportunities
These characteristics are relatively intangible but can still affect workforce diversity and staff interactions. You should include subtle concepts into your DEI plan to ensure optimal outcomes.
NOTE: Establishing a diverse workforce requires input from both the staff and executives.
Maintaining a varied payroll helps ensure your organization reaches its highest potential. Each team member feels recognized and appreciated, leading to better on-the-job morale and increased productivity. Moreover, workforce diversity brings multiple forms of creativity and unique problem-solving skills. Implementing DEI at every level also guarantees more innovation and more significant progress.
Diversified organizations can manage conflicts with greater compassion and empathy. Their relatable staff can offer care and develop solutions when outdated policies fail. Plus, job diversity reveal’s your organization’s commitment to social equity and inclusion – two hot topics that can make or break your brand.
The types of diversity in your workplace can vary depending on the team and industry. However, genuinely distinct organizations always employ people from each diversity category. Crews generally consist of workers from different generations, ethnic backgrounds, and gender conformities. Likewise, some companies might even hire various educational levels, socioeconomic histories, or personalities.
What does workforce diversity really look like when under the microscope? It goes beyond accounting for someone’s race, sex, gender, or age. Authentic inclusion on job sites always involves an integrated and innovative environment ripe for conflict-free collaboration. Diverse companies often refine their approach to DEI strategies, ensuring it aligns with current concerns.
Meanwhile, inclusive businesses typically evaluate job duties, salaries, and incentives based on diversity, equity, and inclusion standards. They also account for on-the-job experience, continued education or training, and outside influences. Instead of focusing on protected or unprotected characteristics, executives concentrate on each person’s professional performance.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical components of a compassionate organization. That’s why thousands of different scenarios could paint a clear picture of diversity at work. For our example, let’s assume we work for a company of people from every category. How would the daily operations look from an outside perspective?
Multinational companies might hire people from several countries. Their businesses could offer collaborative opportunities to combine views, talents, and cultural differences. Thus, they’d reap the benefits of workforce diversity tenfold while setting an example for their competitors. The advantage isn’t exclusive to global ventures, thankfully.
National businesses can create a special team to address international concerns, including people from different countries, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ethnicities. Additionally, DEI-favoring companies can elevate specific protected groups into leadership roles. This closes the gap between various sectors and drives change across numerous industries.
Workforce diversity also involves emphasizing staff with non-traditional histories. For example, inclusive and equitable organizations often design programs to serve undereducated employees or military veterans. Both programs provide outreach services and training resources to improve job performance. More importantly, they help underrepresented groups reach their full potential through your company’s compassionate approach.
Other examples could include:
- Conducting specific executive searches for protected peoples
- Hiring from different locations or offering work through remote access
- Holding focus groups with multigenerational staff for a broader perspective
- Creating an open forum for employee complaints and requests
- Seeking DEI-compliant vendors and partnerships with ethical investing
- Promoting trades and publications that align with equitable diversity standards
- Recruiting undersold individuals for internships and educational opportunities
When you prioritize workforce diversity, you can take advantage of vast life experience, on-the-job abilities, and critical thinking skills.
Public outcry for diversity, equity, and inclusion is getting louder. In the meantime, you must keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities to integrate comprehensive DEI policies. Employees who feel represented, respected, and relied upon tend to perform better than those who don’t.
It also wouldn’t hurt to incorporate these ten diversity trends for a more equitable environment:
- Cynicism – Many employees will doubt their company’s sincerity because of flawed or failed programs.
- Fatigue – Some staff could suffer burnout or compassion fatigue due to prolonged misrepresentation or conflict.
- Statistics – Expect more data about DEI effectiveness as the metrics pour in and analysts determine new trajectories.
- Frustration – Executives could become fearful of conflict or oblivious to social justice issues.
- Disruption – Companies may have to restructure their marketing strategies or redistribute duties and accountability.
- Training – Get ready to integrate skills-based training programs to foster more inclusive leadership and advocacy.
- Enhancements – Depending on your brand, existing DEI programs might require updating or erasure.
- Management – You’ll need staff to conduct performance reviews and examine the accountability standards.
- Resources – It’s time to revamp your staff resources and encourage diverse groups in the office.
- Time – Marginalized populations might require breaks to contemplate, address, or cope with workplace trauma.
Remember how quickly things can change in our society. You must monitor social justice reform to stay abreast of the latest developments. It’s the best way to reduce office conflicts and excavate the top brass in your team like a pro.
Creating a more diverse crew isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. We’re talking about a complete overhaul of your systems, policies, and operations. You should take this journey with your employees and executives to produce more intuitive interactions and practical solutions.
Reach out to your staff about their concerns and let them ask relevant questions. Offer honest answers and address their grievances seriously. Underrepresented groups aren’t looking for handouts or pretty words. They want significant change, and they’re willing to help.
Prevent burnout and compassion fatigue by delegating tasks based on skillset, schedules, and preferences. Then frequently check the progress of your DEI strategies to ensure maximum productivity in the office. Represent your brand through workforce diversity, leadership inclusion, and payscale equality to support progressive trends in the business world.
DID YOU KNOW: Recent gender pay gap studies show that women make about 16% less than their male counterparts for completing the same tasks.
Workforce diversity ensures a varied talent pool and equal advancement opportunities. Diverse agencies also encourage interactions between different cultures while promoting equity and inclusion during critical collaborations. How ready is your company for social justice trends?
Organizations can recruit and manage constructive crews enthusiastic about working together. Various points of view can join in building a more solid foundation that withstands impactful change. Yet, equitable offices still aren’t as typical as they should be. How does your business measure up? It’s time to find out.
About the Author
K. Edwin Bryant is a highly respected senior pastor, professor and academic, published author, and corporate strategist with a passion to advocate for underrepresented communities.
Dr. Bryant has a Ph.D. from Macquarie University, Sydney, AU in Ancient History: New Testament and Early Christianity. Currently, Bryant is the COO of Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, Senior Pastor and CEO of Dayton, Ohio’s Mount Pisgah Church, chairman of the Board for Tehillah Music Group, and an adjunct professor of the New Testament & Early Christianity.
He uses his leadership and influence to pry open spaces of white privilege and create pathways of equality and belonging for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
In Dr. Bryant’s book ChaRIOT: The New Cultural Conversation, he confronts difficult conversations to help non-blacks reinterpret public responses to oppression imposed on and experienced by the black community.
Dr. Bryant currently resides outside of Dayton Ohio with his wife and children. When he’s not working on a multitude of projects or catching up on trending events; you might find him watching Netflix (especially the Blacklist) or hitting the piano inspired by artists such as Robert Glasper, Moonchild, and Corey Henry.