In any given workplace, you’ll encounter a variety of personalities, talents and skill sets. The strongest teams tend to be the most diverse, as diversity enables employers to balance out their team and harness each person’s unique strengths.
One of the first steps towards building a diverse and inclusive workforce is investing in diversity and inclusion training programs to promote awareness, understanding and acceptance.
Want to know more about the importance of diversity and inclusion training in the workplace? We’ve lined up the most important types of diversity to look out for, and the different characteristics of each one.
The importance of diversity in the workplace
Diversity refers to the qualities and characteristics that distinguish individuals from one another. A diverse workplace is one that employs individuals with a range of different abilities, traits and characteristics, both observable and unobservable.
Why is this important? In addition to creating happier employees, research shows that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more successful.
One study by McKinsey showed that diverse boards perform better. It found that companies with more women and foreign nationals on their executive boards generated more returns on equity as well as higher earnings on average.
Another study by Credit Suisse showed that large businesses with at least one woman on the board outperformed their peer group with no women on the board by 26%.
Clearly, diversity and inclusion can benefit both employers and employees, and investing in cultural diversity training is one way to achieve this in your own organization. But what does it actually mean to build a diverse workforce? Let’s take a look.
Types of diversity
Diversity comes in many different forms, from age and gender to cultural and racial diversity. Although this list is by no means comprehensive, we’ve lined up the most important types of diversity to be aware of when building a strong and inclusive team.
Age diversity is important because people of different ages bring with them different life experiences, work styles and points of view, depending on the generation they were born into. Embracing these differences and accepting employees of all ages can boost productivity and engagement, and even improve employee retention.
Building a diverse and inclusive work environment means taking into account that people may have physical limitations or mental health issues. Putting initiatives in place to support your employees will ensure that everyone is able to perform at their best, whether this means building accessible toilets and ramps for wheelchairs or checking in with employees and providing mental health support when necessary.
Skill diversity is one of the most important things an organization should consider when building a strong team. Hiring individuals with a range of complementary talents, knowledge, education and soft skills will ultimately boost your team’s productivity and foster a more positive work environment.
4. Religious diversity
Another part of building a tolerant and inclusive workplace culture is ensuring that everyone feels safe and comfortable to practice their religious beliefs. Education and awareness are important when it comes to supporting religious diversity, and can help employees be respectful of different belief systems.
5. Ethnic diversity
Ethnic diversity is important because it brings people from diverse cultural backgrounds together. Some of the benefits of building an ethnically diverse team include more creativity and innovation, increased employee engagement and connection to a wider client base. Providing language-learning classes is one example of how your organization might support ethnic diversity.
6. Racial diversity
Although the terms ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ are often used interchangeably, the concept of race is more of a social construct. This is because individuals who look similar may be different in ethnicity, and vice versa. Inclusion and diversity training can help to counter any unconscious biases people may hold and create a more inclusive work environment for people of all races.
7. Sexual orientation
Although a person’s sexual orientation isn’t usually something that’s visible, building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture means ensuring that everyone will feel safe and respected regardless of their sexual orientation. Investing in DEI training is a good way to build awareness and foster empathy and respect in the workplace.
8. Gender diversity
Gender diversity in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean there must be an equal number of males and females, but there should be representation of both sexes at every level. It should also be a safe environment for transgender and non-binary individuals. Evaluating your company culture and removing gender biases from job descriptions are good places to start when it comes to supporting gender diversity in the workplace.
Supporting neurodiversity in the workplace means recognising that neurodivergent employees can add a lot of value to the team, but may need additional support or resources in order to perform optimally. The term “neurodivergent” includes a range of conditions including ADHD, autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia.
Now that you’re aware of the different types of diversity and how each one can contribute towards building a strong team, it’s worth looking into how diversity training in the workplace can benefit your organization.
Some of the key benefits of DEI training include developing inclusive hiring practices, creating a positive and supportive work environment, and ultimately, boosting your organization’s bottom line.