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No longer just a buzzword, diversity and inclusion is now one of the hottest topics for businesses everywhere. While you’ll typically see these two terms tightly intertwined, they have different, but complementary meanings, and together are making a positive impact on the work environment.
Diversity: A group of people with different traits and characteristics.
Inclusion: The behaviors and social norms to ensure people are empowered and have a sense of belonging.
Simply put, diversity and inclusion are about showing appreciation and respect for what makes your employees unique. It’s about empowering them regardless of things like their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristics, such as organizational tenure, training, experience, or even personality.
“Inclusion and fairness in the workplace… is not simply the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.”
— Alexis Herman
The Benefits Of Diversity & Inclusion
Why are so many companies embracing diversity and inclusion? When your employees feel valued, included, and are treated equally, they strive to make a difference.
In fact, Forbes and McKinsey & Company agree, businesses that have diversity and inclusion strategies and practices in place are reaping its rewards:
- Businesses that strive for gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform industry peers.
- Companies that are ethnically diverse are 33% more likely to outperform their competitors.
- Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time.
While achieving a competitive advantage is what keeps your business profitable, diversity and inclusion are about so much more. It’s about people, regardless of their differences. It’s about improving your ability to recruit and retain top talent. It’s about providing employees a safe environment for them to voice their views.
Think about it – if you employ homogenous people, there’s a good chance that their contributions, problem-solving, etc. will be similar. But when your teams consist of heterogeneous employees that feel accepted and valued, they will feel comfortable in sharing their unique perspectives. Perspectives that nearly always lead to innovation.
Bridging The Gap Between Diversity & Inclusion
When you shift the culture of your company to one that promotes diversity and inclusion, you open yourself up to a wider talent pool of motivated, high performers. And of course, that’s good for business. On the opposite side of the coin are the repercussions felt by companies that do not have diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs in place. Consequences that include high employee turnover. In fact, a Deloitte study found that 72% of respondents would leave a company in favor of a more inclusive culture. And, what’s more concerning, is that nearly one-quarter of those surveyed had already changed companies for this reason.
Not to be underestimated, creating a diverse and inclusive work environment can be a challenge. You may need to modify your mission, strategies, and practices. You may even need to recruit or allocate resources to this initiative. However, the benefits of creating a work environment that fosters growth and acceptance far outweigh the consequences felt by companies that remain the status quo.
Millie Seijo, CPA – Partner