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How Diversity and Inclusion Can Change Your Workplace

Be a Game Changer in Business

Admin Nas Academy

30 Dec · 6m read

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are the best things you can do for your business, not only for your team, but also to create a better product or service.

Some have pushed back against diversity, and don’t even consider what inclusion could look like in their companies. But those that have embraced diversity and inclusion have proven again and again that it gives nothing but positive outcomes for the workplace – in ways that go far beyond the office. 

two person of different countries holding each other hands

As more diverse groups of people are given voices across industries, the act of simply hiring people for diversity has become a failed strategy. People are demanding more thoughtful hiring practices, where people from all walks of life are brought into meaningful roles – such as positions of leadership, or specialist roles.

McKinsey proved in their latest report surrounding diversity, Diversity Wins (2020), that having diversity on executive teams creates consistent outperformance.

While many companies have either regressed or slowed down in their diversity initiatives, Diversity Wins found that the companies who have increased their diversity and inclusion efforts have made significant financial gains. These winning companies are adopting systematic, business-led approaches to inclusion and diversity (I&D), and have been reaping the benefits. 

In particular, there has been evidence that diversity within executive teams and departments gives the most drastic benefits and results. Companies where women formed at least 30% of the top executives saw a 48% increase of outperformance compared to companies with the least gender diversified executive group. 

Intercultural diversity has been found to be even more successful, with top-quartile companies outperforming those in the fourth one by 36% in profitability.

two women talking

However, the transition towards more inclusive work environments has been slow. Rather than speeding up, diversity and inclusion initiatives have slowed down in recent years. Diversity Wins found that more than a third of companies in the UK don’t have women on their executive teams – a number which echoes across multiple industries and countries. 

The state of ethno-cultural minorities on executive teams is even more dire, with just 13% in 2019.

Diversifying your workforce, especially executive and leadership teams, has been proven to increase output and financial performance – yet it seems like businesses are stuck when it comes to implementing meaningful and practical changes. 

That’s why we’ve collected some of the best ways for businesses to diversify and become inclusive, so that you can outperform while being more accurate of the world we live in. 

Diversity Equals Innovation

Diverse workspaces means bringing in people with different backgrounds and life experiences. This creates an intersection of experiences and perspectives which, in turn, allows different and fresh ideas on a topic. 

Work team celebrating a success

Different perspectives also fosters creativity as discussions and new ideas are brought to the table. This is one of the most valuable consequences of diversifying the workplace, and means that your workforce will not only be more innovative, but have a better perspective when it comes to pitching ideas that may be controversial. 

If your team members all come from the same background, you miss out on having diverse skills that could compliment each other. That’s why it’s important to bring in new talent that would have otherwise been passed over for more of the same. 

You may think different skill sets and perspectives could mean clashes – but studies actually indicate the opposite. Diverse teams are more productive, and benefit from different kinds of methods when it comes to teamwork.

Diversifying means opening your pool of talent as you’re selecting workers from a wider range of candidates.

If you keep your doors closed to ethno-cultural and gender minorities, the talent that lies with these groups will go to competitors to your detriment

people of all colors and different nationalities portrait

In some industries, customers feel more comfortable dealing with someone who understands their background. This is because of unconscious bias and microaggressions — unintentional (but very real) actions privileged people do that minimize or dismiss another person’s experiences. 

Unconscious bias includes talking over women or dismissing their ideas in favor of the ideas of men. 

Examples of microaggressions are, “You speak such good English”, calling women slurs when they express confidence or take leadership roles, or the “Myth of Meritocracy” belief that men and women have equal opportunities for achievement. 

People who have been on the receiving end of such treatment are more aware of their language and are less likely to treat their customers in such a way, and your team will adapt to their teammates’ examples of what language is harmful and better left unsaid. 

Incorporate Inclusivity

Incorporating diversity while forgetting inclusivity means risking the alienation of your workforce. Diversity without inclusion has been criticized as being meaningless lip service – as workplaces don’t account for the unique needs of intersectional teams. For example, not accounting for mothers with babies who need nursing and changing rooms for their babies. 

Signs that your team is diverse but not inclusive mainly involve your team being uncomfortable while at your workplace – such as Muslim workers being made to feel uncomfortable for praying. 

girls on their laptops

Diverse workplaces cannot be effective without inclusion. So how do you ensure you’re building an inclusive space?

Speak to your teammates about how you can improve their work environment or, if you feel it’s necessary, hold anonymous questionnaires to see how you can improve your work culture to be more inclusive. 

Check Your Executive Team

Diversity alone is also criticized for often leaving out executive and leadership positions, which are essential for an effectively diverse and inclusive workplace. Having diverse roles in positions lower down on the chain doesn’t matter if the entire executive team looks the same, and comes from similar backgrounds. 

hands from all around the world

For your business to move towards the future, your leadership needs to represent people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Doing so will make your company that much more effective as you benefit from the talents and perspectives of people from different cultures and genders. 

Accept Other Religious and Cultural Practices

One of the best and easiest ways to practice inclusion is to be respectful of the cultural and religious practices of different groups. This means knowing their holy days and how they’re celebrated. 

For example, honoring Ramadan for your Muslim workers, being considerate about their fasting, and giving them time off on the holiest days of their calendars. Extend the same courtesy to your religious minority teammates that you do for Christian holidays. 

Also be aware of cultural practices, such as Muslim prayer. Give your Muslim workers time off to go to the mosque, or dedicate a room to be open to them when they pray. 

There are all kinds of examples from across cultural and religious groups, and accommodating them does not take much effort or time for what that consideration means to your team members. 

Make Sure Every Voice is Heard 

Sometimes your minority workers are going to bring up points that are upsetting – especially if you believe you’re not doing anything wrong. These can include the microaggressions, mentioned above, which to you may seem like a normal, and inoffensive comment. 

equality and diversity event

It’s essential that people are given spaces to share their thoughts on these matters, where they can be heard, and issues can be addressed. 

Otherwise, keep mindful that every voice is heard, and that unconscious bias does not play a role in how you listen to the ideas of your team. 

Be Open About Pay

At the current rate, it’s going to take 135 years to close the gap in gender pay inequality. This can be attributed to the perceived value of the jobs with majority women, such as childcare. These jobs are paid less than jobs such as managers and business roles, which are traditionally dominated by men and paid far more. 

This isn’t the sole reason, however, and excludes the socio-economic reasoning behind why these jobs differ in value, and why men and women gravitate towards specific industries. Women’s work is viewed by society as lesser, and therefore is of less value, and so their work is worth less

Gender pay inequality

Keeping an open policy about pay is one strategy to close this gap. Women will be more aware of what they are being paid compared to their male counterparts, and there will be less shame when bringing up any disparities. Facilitating open dialogue about pay is an act that will show your team that you support equal pay. 

Encourage Multilingualism

Multilingualism in your workplace encourages forward thinking and opens your business to a world outside of your native language. This is especially important in multilingual countries, where a single workplace language means excluding swathes of the market you could otherwise be reaching. 

Be Officially Anti-Discriminatory

Support your teammates by making anti-discrimination policies official. This will ferret out bigots in your business who will turn your company culture into an unsafe work environment for your diverse team of winners. Let your team know you have their back when discrimination does occur, and give them a voice to raise when discrimination does happen. 

people from all around the world

Eliminate Bias When Promoting 

Be aware of unconscious bias when promoting your team. Minorities are often passed over for those seen as more “typical”. Be fair in your evaluations, and compare achievements in the workplace rather than an individual’s likeability. 

Be Accessible

Diversity also means making your physical workspaces accessible to everyone – including people with disabilities. This means ensuring you have accessible technology available to give your entire team equal opportunity to perform at their best. 

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Bozoma Course CardCMO of Netflix, Bozoma Saint John has put in immense efforts to support education and uplift others to become trailblazers. And now, she’s just launched her own Academy and course: The Badass Business Bootcamp. 

As a part of her initiative to uplift those like her, crush barriers, and bring diversity into the workplace, she’s using her Academy to share all the lessons she’s learned as a corporate badass.

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Bozoma’s already reached the top despite all of the barriers she’s encountered – and she shows no sign of stopping. Her success is a bright, guiding star to all those who have been othered, those who are different, and those who face barriers simply because of who they are. 

Join the Badass Business Bootcamp, and become a badass today.

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