Understanding What Diversity and Inclusion Is in a Workplace Environment

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It can generally go without saying that managers want to maximize the potential of their workplace teams and the environments that they are working in. There are countless ways that you can encourage good leadership and communication, as well as helping individual employees focus on their best skills and improve on their lesser skills, but all of these efforts will be muted if there are still fundamental problems within a workplace.

One area that you might want to focus on for your business is diversity and inclusion. Both diversity and inclusion are similar concepts, sometimes used interchangeably, but they are two separate ideas that you will want to make clear to a team who might be struggling with the idea. In order to maximize potential within a team, you will want to make sure that you understand what is diversity and inclusion in the workplace first.

What Does Diversity Mean?

Diversity is an important part of the idea of diversity and inclusion, and while the definition of the word might be similar, it is not interchangeable with inclusion. Typically, diversity focuses on the idea of representation of the people you have on your team in the workplace.

For the most part, diversity refers to having an equal and well-compromised makeup of different genders, races, nationalities, identities, and orientations in the workplace so that each and every one of the employees feels as if they aren’t the “odd one out” and will feel more compelled to work with everyone in the team.

What Does Inclusion Mean?

Inclusion is the second concept of the idea of diversity and inclusion, and it is just as important as having good diversity. If a workplace is adequately diverse but is not inclusive, then the efforts that you have gone to have been for nothing as the effects of increased diversity will be muted.

If diversity refers to the composition of your working team, then inclusion refers to how everyone in the team should be treating each other equally, with colleagues not holding any unnecessary authority over others based solely on their identities. An inclusive environment is one where everyone’s influence and authority over each other is equal and one party is not dominating another party for their identities.

How Do They Work Together?

A workplace environment can be diverse without it being inclusive. An example of this would be a diverse set of employees from different backgrounds and with different personal identities, but these people’s opinions may not be taken as seriously as other people’s opinions for reasons relating to who these people are, rather than competency and talent. Ideally, a team should have people whose experiences give them a wide range of capabilities.

With an inclusive and diverse set of employees, people will be far more willing to trust in each other and work alongside each other. When everyone is able to work without feeling hindered or shunned by a group of people in the workplace, it means that they will be more likely to solve problems together and tackle difficult projects without nearly as much internal conflict, drastically increasing the potential of the workplace team as well as their efficiency, as everyone’s opinions are heard and registered.

How Well Does It Work?

There are plenty of studies done that have shown an overall increase in performance, results, and decision-making skills in workplaces with a diverse and inclusive team, as everyone listens to each other and values their inputs. In a sense, having an inclusive and diverse workplace environment means that you will have more people being heard, compared to a workplace where only one group of people hold any power, leading to considerable conflict.

When people who you have paid money to hire and have work for you are being shunned in the workplace, you are not getting the full range of talent that you originally hired that person for, which essentially means that you are losing money. It also means that there is more likely to be conflict within a team as people feel as if they aren’t being listened to or problems may occur because statements were overlooked.

What Practices Should You Be Enforcing?

While there are employees who are going to be more open to the idea of being diverse and inclusive, encouraging such an environment comes from the practices that you put into place, meaning that it is up to you to make sure that this type of environment is being enforced. There are many practices out there that encourage diversity and inclusion.

In general, what you should be focusing on is going to be collaboration, teamwork, and equal access to opportunities. You should make sure that you have representation and inclusivity at all levels of your workplace environment, and you should make sure that you focus on resolving conflict in a collaborative way.

When everyone feels as if their input is welcomed, it will help your business in the long run, and it is something that you should never overlook when you are deciding who is going to be a good fit for your workplace.

How Can You Improve Diversity and Inclusion in Your Current Workplace?

You may notice that your current workplace environment is one that does not necessarily promote the idea of diversity and inclusion. It can take some time to get down to the root of everything to create an environment that is better suited to maximizing your business’s potential, but there are things that you can do to improve diversity and inclusion in your current environment.

There are models that you can follow that have been proven successful. You should also do what you can to make sure that all employees feel welcome, such as both acknowledging and honoring different religious and cultural practices that employees may follow.

You can make integrations to the workplace that can help people who speak other languages feel as if their voice can be heard if they are not confident in their ability to communicate in English. This is just the start of what you can do for your workplace, and even if it is just the start, it is a process that can go a long, long way in furthering your company’s potential when everyone is collaborating with each other.


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