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April 21, 2023

What is Diversity and Inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion have undoubtedly become more than a politically correct social idea – they have become corporate buzzwords in recent years. Emerging technology has certainly played a role, with its ability to amplify diverse voices, break down barriers, and even provide advertisers a platform for commitment to diversity and inclusion. And while many of us agree that workplace diversity is important, many organizations still struggle with implementing policy and practices to achieve this goal. 


Importance of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion


Workplace diversity and inclusion are essential for creating a work environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and supported. So what is it?

Diversity refers to the practices or quality of involving people based on a broad range of qualities, such as their race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability status, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. An inclusive environment is one where all members feel welcome, supported, and included. Within the context of a workplace, this allows companies to identify strengths among their employees based on their varied life experiences, as well as prevent and eliminate discriminatory practices. Beyond policy, census data shows post-millenials are on track to be the most diverse generation. Whether or not employees identify as a member of a given population, their future peers will be.

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Benefits of Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

In addition to providing a sense of belonging for all employees, there are very real opportunities for companies to create, improve, and strengthen their diversity and inclusion programs. These benefits include:

Better decision-making

Varied experience among employees allows for more voices to be heard, which translates to a better understanding of business needs. Companies who prioritize trust have seen improvements in productivity, better-quality products, and increased profitability.

Improved creativity and innovation

Employees who feel safe at work have higher levels of oxytocin, which has a direct impact on whether we trust strangers, and has been shown to actually improve cognitive function

Enhanced employee engagement

A commitment to employee engagement can help companies thrive during uncertainty, and according to research by Gallup, employee engagement was directly linked to key performance indicators including: customer loyalty/engagement, profitability, productivity, turnover, safety incidents, compliance, absenteeism, and more. 

Increased profitability

Companies that promote diversity and inclusion have been shown to be more profitable, with reports showing diverse organizations being more likely to meet or exceed financial goals. 


Misconceptions About Diversity and Inclusion:

The negative perception of diversity and inclusion programs persists among some, likely due to a fundamental misunderstanding of how these initiatives can benefit an organization. Some of these misconceptions include: 

Misconception #1: Diversity and inclusion are only about race and gender

Race and gender remain essential components of diversity and inclusion, but initiatives should also consider factors like age, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and disability status. Eligibility for paid parental leave, which could apply to anyone who is a new parent, is starting to include secondary caregivers. Policies like the new parental leave benefit available to all members of the armed forces are an example of inclusion that can have numerous benefits to a workforce. 

Misconception #2: Diversity and inclusion are only about compliance

There are numerous legal protections in place to prevent harassment, discrimination, and unfair workplace practices, but compliance doesn’t always translate to equitable work environments.  Companies who adopt diversity and inclusion as a core value have fewer instances of compliance violations. 

Misconception #3: Diversity and inclusion is just about meeting quotas 

Another misconception is that diversity and inclusion is simply about meeting quotas or achieving a certain level of representation for different groups. While increasing representation is an important goal, it is only one aspect of promoting diversity and inclusion. True diversity and inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels included and valued, and where diverse perspectives are actively sought and valued. This means sourcing talent from different pipelines and seeking diverse talent starting with their process at the entry level. 

Misconception #4: Diversity and inclusion initiatives are only relevant to HR

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are often led by human resources, but they rely on the buy-in from multiple stakeholders to be effective. HR plays an important role in promoting diversity and inclusion, but the culture of inclusion is the shared responsibility of everyone from managers, leaders, and employees. Inclusive leadership is especially important for the long-term success of diversity and inclusion programs. 

Misconception #5: Diversity and inclusion has little impact on business results 

In reality, research has shown that organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more innovative, more productive, and have better financial performance. Additionally, a diverse and inclusive workforce can help organizations better understand and serve a diverse customer base. Popular brands know this – consumer habits are directly tied to successful marketing. 

Misconception #6: Diversity and inclusion is a one-time effort 

Promoting diversity and inclusion is an ongoing commitment that requires attention and investment.– not a single action.  Creating an inclusive workplace culture is a challenge that involves multiple moving parts, such as promoting diversity in recruitment and hiring, ensuring policies and practices are equitable, and providing training to employees. Lasting progress is challenging, but the benefits make a compelling case. 

What is the Business Impact of Diversity and Inclusion?


Increased innovation and creativity

A diverse workforce brings together individuals with different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, which leads to increased creativity and innovation. Promoting diversity and inclusion encourages employees to share their unique perspectives and ideas, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making. International cosmetics company L’Oreal has become a global leader in creating products for diverse buyers, leading to an increase in profits in their major global markets. 

Improved employee engagement and retention 

When employees feel included and valued, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. A diversity and inclusion program can help employees feel more connected to their colleagues and their work, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and retention. Conversely, lower rates of retention increase the diversity gap. 

Enhanced reputation and brand image

Buyers perception can make or break a brand. Businesses who prioritize diversity and inclusion can enhance their reputation and brand image as a socially responsible organization are more likely to  attract top talent, appeal to a diverse customer base, and increase customer loyalty.

Improved financial performance 

Research has shown that companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more likely to have better financial performance. When sales were in decline for Proctor & Gamble owned brand Pampers, they launched a campaign to appeal to the buyers – new moms. This campaign was responsive and empathetic, leading to increased sales.  

Reduced risk of legal action 

Discrimination and harassment claims are costly. In 2022, the combined cost for the top ten most expensive discrimination lawsuits was $597 million and damages from discrimination suits were granted more than 53% of the time, with an average of over 63,000 per settlement. Ensuring policies and practices are inclusive and equitable is good for the bottom line. 


Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Training 


Training and education are cost-effective ways for companies to show their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Training initiatives can take on many forms, and include everyone in an organization from HR professionals, leadership, to individuals and peers. 

Recruitment and hiring training


Recruitment and hiring are a foundational first step in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and training can include topics such as:


Unconscious bias training

Unconscious bias refers to the unintentional attitudes or stereotypes that influence our judgments and decisions without us even realizing it. This can include topics such as:

Diversity and inclusion training 

Diversity and inclusion cover all of the topics mentioned, but can also be taught through the lens of information such as:  

Leadership training

Organizations need leadership buy-in to make any meaningful culture changes, so of course managers and leaders play a critical role in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Leadership training can help managers:

Customer and supplier diversity training 

Companies can also benefit from training their employees on how to work with diverse customers and suppliers. This training can cover topics such as:

Human Resource Compliance Package


Diversity and inclusion programs are a necessary foundation for a successful organization. Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion programs are more innovative and productive leading to better financial performance. 

A diverse workforce allows for varied experiences and ideas to be heard, leading to:

Diversity, inclusion, and all other equity initiatives go beyond meeting quotas or simply complying with legal protections, and instead involve creating an environment where everyone feels included and valued. Ongoing commitment and investment are necessary to achieve lasting progress among all communities, but the benefits make it a compelling case for a thriving workplace. 

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