12 Different Diversity Types You Can Find in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are essential because they can lead to stronger communication, collaboration and innovation. There are many types of diversity, encompassing themes ranging from gender to personality types. Understanding what these different varieties are can help you contribute to a positive work environment and interact with people from unfamiliar backgrounds. In this article, we define what diversity means, discuss diversity types and explore how you can promote it in the workplace.

Related: What Is Diversity and Inclusion and How Do You Show It?

What is diversity?

Diversity refers to the inclusion of people who come from varying ethnic and social backgrounds and who have different characteristics, such as their gender identity or sexual orientation. Workplace diversity relates not only to inclusion but also to the acceptance of individuals working for an organisation, regardless of their background. Fostering a work environment that's diverse and inclusive can be a valuable asset to any company because it builds on the strengths and potential that each individual brings to their work.

Related: Learning About Diversity And Inclusion: 10 Free Virtual Courses

12 important diversity types

Here are 12 different diversity types you might encounter in the workplace:

1. Organisational diversity

Organisational or functional diversity refers to the differences between people's characteristics assigned to them by the organisation they work for. It relates to how the company distinguishes its employees from each other. The type of employer in this case is irrelevant, whether it's a government agency or a private firm. All employers constitute some kind of organisation. Making everyone's position, efforts and work feel validated can help boost the company's organisational diversity. Employers can help make their employees feel welcome, regardless of their:

  • Management level

  • Salary

  • Seniority

  • Job function

Related: Functional Organisational Structure: When and Why to Use It

2. Age diversity

A company can improve its age diversity by employing people from a wide range of generations. This way, multiple employees of different ages can have the opportunity to work together. This is beneficial because it ensures that people with different upbringings and viewpoints can contribute to an organisation's success. This allows them to learn from each other.

For example, young employees might introduce more contemporary methods of conducting business and can also teach the older generations how to use modern technology. In return, older individuals can apply their more traditional business skills and use their level of experience to benefit the firm.

Related: How to Avoid Ageism During Your Job Search (With Resume Tips)

3. Gender diversity

An organisation can promote itself as a more inclusive space by supporting gender diversity in the workplace. This means employing people of different gender identities and implementing policies that make everyone feel validated. For example, respecting people's pronouns or educating staff on the correct terms for gender identity can help promote gender diversity in an organisation.

Doing so can encourage communication and collaboration because it exposes employees to people different from them, ideally fostering a workplace of mutual respect. The traditional, binary genders are men and women, but there exists a wide variety of genders. These include:

  • Non-binary: This refers to someone who doesn't define their gender within the traditional binary male or female.

  • Gender-fluid: Someone who's gender-fluid doesn't usually identify as having a fixed gender.

  • Transgender: If a person is transgender, it's because they don't identify with the gender assigned at birth. This is the opposite of someone who's cisgender and identifies with their assigned gender.

  • Agender: This relates to someone who doesn't identify with any specific gender.

Related: Learning About Diversity and Inclusion: 10 Free Virtual Courses

4. Disability

Another type of diversity, namely disability, involves people who have a condition that makes it more difficult for them to fulfil certain tasks or activities. By making the office accessible to people of different ability levels, a company can improve their reputation and create a positive work environment.

An employer might make the workplace more disability-friendly by installing a stairlift or implementing flexible work practices. For example, allowing employees to work non-standard hours so they can have more time to rest or receive medical treatment. Disability is a broad term and it can manifest in many ways, including:

  • Mental

  • Physical

  • Cognitive

  • Developmental

  • Sensory

5. Personality types

Usually, an organisation can include a multitude of personalities. An example of how an office can have greater diversity in the way it caters to personality types is by accommodating both introverted and extroverted employees. Introverted people might find open-plan workspaces or highly sociable training exercises uncomfortable. To address this, an organisation might offer remote and in-person training options to appeal to both introverts and extroverts. By catering to different types of people, the employer can help all employees fulfil their potential at work.

Related: 18 Types of Personality Tests With Professional Applications

6. Cultural background

Having a high level of cultural diversity can be particularly beneficial for companies that work with international clients or partners. Understanding how to respect others and working with different cultures in the workplace can be highly valuable. For example, it can help employees when they conduct business meetings or negotiations with someone who's from a different cultural background.

Cultural diversity generally refers to the factors that make up an individual's ethnic background. For example, some cultures have different ways of greeting someone in a business setting. One culture might find it appropriate to shake hands, while another might find any kind of physical touch unprofessional.

7. Religious diversity

Many people have their own religious beliefs and practices, while others choose not to. Regardless, a workplace can encourage diversity by welcoming people from all religious backgrounds. By having people with different religions present at the office, a company can create a work environment that's open and respectful towards everyone. This can promote a positive reputation, thereby attracting new talent. Companies can accommodate religion by providing prayer rooms, allowing religious attire and acknowledging different religious holidays.

8. Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation refers to the group of people an individual finds attractive. This is usually related to gender. For example, someone who's heterosexual is usually attracted to people of the opposite gender, whereas a gay or lesbian usually prefers partners of the same gender. Other examples can include bisexuality and pansexuality.

Having a workplace culture that's LGBTQIA+ friendly can create an environment in which everyone feels comfortable. This can enable them to perform their work as effectively as possible without the hindrance of certain social barriers. Companies can promote LGBT rights by participating in Pride events or announcing their solidarity on online platforms.

Related: Job Search Guide: Finding Companies that Value Diversity & Inclusion

9. Racial diversity

A person's race is usually determined by their ancestry and physical characteristics. Employing people of different races is an effective way for a company to show visitors and potential job candidates that they offer a diverse workplace. It's important to have representation in the office because this can introduce new perspectives, backgrounds and cultures. Exposure to new information can activate the staff's thought processes and lead to higher levels of productivity and innovation. It can also grant the company access to a greater number of new and diverse customer markets.

10. Neurodiversity

The term neurodiversity refers to people who are neurodivergent. This means they typically have a divergence in their neurological or mental function. Because of this, they might experience and perceive the world around them differently than the mainstream. While this was once regarded as a disability, it's now simply acknowledged as a different way of thinking. Having neurodiversity can boost the office's innovation by introducing new ways of thinking, different skill sets and creative methods of problem-solving. Examples of neurodivergence can include:

  • Autism

  • Tourette's syndrome

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Dyslexia

  • Epilepsy

11. Political beliefs

To have a thriving workplace, it's important to respect people's diverse political backgrounds and beliefs. Having a variety of political viewpoints represented in the office can create an environment that promotes respect for different perspectives. It may also help individuals learn more about different ideologies and how to effectively communicate with people who have controversial beliefs. Additionally, when the office has a variety of political ideologies represented, it can lead to more productive and innovative problem-solving.

Related: What Is a Good Work Environment? (Plus Other FAQs)

12. Ethnic diversity

Companies can celebrate and support ethnic diversity by having a diverse team of employees. Ethnicity refers to a person's identity in relation to their cultural or national traditions. A person's ethnicity might affect their value systems, religious beliefs or cultural upbringing. By bringing people together from different ethnic backgrounds, a company can boost morale and encourage positive professional relationships. It's also valuable for employees with less diverse ethnic backgrounds because it exposes them to other cultures on a regular basis.

Related: 15 Benefits of Diversity in the Workforce (Plus Definition)

Tips to promote diversity in the workplace

Fostering diversity in the office can improve employee satisfaction, encourage creativity and increase productivity levels. By implementing policies and practices that support inclusion, it can help the company attract top talent and boost its reputation. These tips can help create a safe working environment that's welcoming to everyone:

  • Understand what diversity means.

  • Promote an inclusive and tolerant environment.

  • Educate yourself on the various diversity issues.

  • Evaluate the company's recruitment process to avoid unconscious biases.

  • Get involved in diversity initiatives and encourage others to do so.

Related: The Halo Effect: Definition and Examples in the Workplace

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