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

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 23 August 2021

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 (D&I) involve having different cultures, genders, ethnicities and viewpoints represented in your workplace, often at all employment levels. Dedicating efforts and resources to promote these elements can help you increase morale, attract qualified talent and even increase profits. You can gain professional capabilities to use in nearly any industry and position by knowing more about diversity and inclusion and how to employ it. In this article, we explore what is diversity and inclusion, how you show it in the workplace and what D&I consultants do to help you better understand this important business term.

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

What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Knowing what is diversity and inclusion can help you create a happier and healthier work environment, overcome biases and encourage colleagues to be their authentic selves. Diversity and inclusion often centres on making all employees feel equal, supported and involved in the workplace. Companies and organisations with inclusion and diversity in the workplace accept and employ those with differences, whether in:

  • Gender

  • Religion

  • Race

  • Age

  • Ethnicity

  • Political viewpoints

  • Cultural background

  • Sexual orientation

A company or organisation's reputation and social responsibility outlook can grow by consistently promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Efforts typically lead to these 10 benefits:

  • Increased productivity and revenue

  • More creativity

  • Better innovations

  • Quicker problem-solving

  • Improved decision-making

  • More employee engagement

  • Higher job satisfaction rates

  • Lowered turnover

  • More qualified talent recruits

  • Growing customer loyalty

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

How do you demonstrate diversity and inclusion?

Here are 11 ways to show a commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace:

1. Hire for diversity

Hiring candidates who increase a company's diversity is a good way to promote D&I efforts in the workplace, and there are ways to make the recruitment process inclusive and attractive to those with different backgrounds. Here are some ways to build diversity into your hiring process:

  • Post on diverse job boards: You can often reach a more diverse pool of applicants by using special job posting sites focused on diversity, like ones for military members, those with disabilities or specific cultural backgrounds, for example.

  • Offer internships for minority groups: Consider creating and offering job internships specific for those in underrepresented groups and aim to hire interns who perform well.

  • Showcase diversity on your website: You can share your company's commitment to diversity and inclusion on your website, often by a note from the chief executive officer (CEO) and within each specific job posting.

  • Include diversity in the interview process: Having diversity represented in the interview process helps applicants see themselves in the role, plus it can highlight unconscious biases to know about and help ensure the fairness and equality each candidate deserves.

  • Reward diverse job referrals: Many organisations offer referral bonuses to existing employees who refer qualified candidates. You might encourage additional rewards for recommending candidates who increase a company's diversity, too.

  • Train job recruiters on diversity: Have hiring managers undergo advanced training on unconscious bias and how to prevent it during the job recruitment process.

Hiring candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds and viewpoints is important, though it shouldn't be the only option and often works best when partnered with an entire diversity and inclusion plan and effort.

2. Include D&I training sessions

Diversity and inclusion training can help employees learn how to work alongside colleagues of different backgrounds, understand biases they may have and better develop relationships with peers and leaders. Managers and other leaders also can learn from D&I training, gaining insight into hiring decisions or how to improve verbal and non-verbal communications when interacting with a diverse workforce. The goal of most D&I training is to establish respectful, healthy work environments that are productive, tolerant and inclusive, which often foster creativity and collaboration. Here are some common topics of inclusion and diversity training:

  • Respectfulness in the workplace

  • Diversity awareness

  • Inclusive leadership

  • Psychological processes of bias

  • Talent recruitment focused on candidates from different backgrounds

Consider setting up a diversity and inclusion committee, especially when creating a training programme. You can invite employees who celebrate and encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace to share their ideas and strengthen your company's programme. Continued training, perhaps yearly, for example, is a great way to show commitment to the topic.

3. Invite guest speakers

Guest speakers are an engaging way to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace and they can share insight into their experiences that might resonate with employees more than other training methods. Hearing about someone else's professional story, accomplishments and impact of diversity and inclusion (or lack of it) can often help employees understand the importance of D&I and how to achieve it. Consider seeking experienced speakers or those who're comfortable leading a session. Here are some suggested topics for guest speakers:

  • Women trailblazers in male-dominant industries, like science, technology, engineering and math fields

  • Disability awareness, empowerment and recognition

  • Gender pay gap issues and solutions

  • Ways to express and embrace authenticity

4. Create employee resource groups

Consider developing employee-led community resource groups that focus on diversity, inclusion and shared experiences. For example, you might have groups like:

  • Heritage-based groups

  • Women in business

  • Singapore Armed Forces veterans

  • LGBTQ professionals

Allowing employees to take part in groups they relate to can foster a healthy working environment, increased morale and potentially higher job satisfaction and retention rates. You can encourage groups to hold events that increase awareness and education and support camaraderie.

5. Have diversity in executive roles

Whether promoting internally or hiring externally, consider ensuring you have diversity across all levels of management. Employees and customers often value seeing a diverse executive leadership team that reflects inclusion or even their own background. Ensuring diversity in leadership also allows a company to connect with clients, competitors and future talent recruits, which often leads to more opportunities. Diversity within a leadership team can also give you more perspective and experience, which often leads to creative problem-solving, decision-making and innovation.

6. Celebrate and hold events

Consider acknowledging, celebrating and holding events for cultural holidays and other diversity connections. It can help foster respect, understanding and open-mindedness for cultures, regions and backgrounds. Cultural events also educate and unite groups of people through commonalities and differences. Here are some ideas of how to celebrate cultural and diversity events at work:

  • Decorate the workspace appropriately for various cultural days, like Christmas or Chinese New Year

  • Acknowledge events, like The Purple Parade, for example, in employee newsletters and on company websites

  • Establish a multicultural calendar for employees

  • Encourage small team gatherings to celebrate cultural events

Consider volunteer activities focusing on serving underrepresented populations, too. They can be effective team-building and education opportunities, too.

7. Survey employees

Ask employees what interests them, what they want to learn more about and ways they want to see noticeable diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Not only does it engage workgroups, but sometimes unique and intriguing ideas you wouldn't think of come from asking employees directly. Consider setting up an anonymous survey option to get a forthcoming and honest insight into how your D&I programme can improve.

8. Develop a mentorship programme

Mentoring is an effective initiative to promote diversity and inclusion. It can help boost women and minorities in business and also encourage job satisfaction and retention rates. Mentorships encourage skill and awareness development, which can carry throughout the organisation, business or team.

9. Use inclusive language daily

Corporate or company language is an important piece of inclusion at the workplace and can directly affect the culture and environment. Consider creating an inclusive language chart or guide for employees, managers and communication team members. You can even build a training session around affirmative language to use and phrases to avoid, further educating people about workplace diversity and inclusion.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definition and Examples

10. Offer diverse employee benefits

Many companies and organisations offer full compensation packages with benefits, like healthcare, wellness and financial services and offerings. Consider reviewing your benefits packages consistently with diversity in mind. This can help you identify if benefits are inclusive and fair to as many employees as possible, or if there are additional benefits you can add to increase your D&I efforts.

11. Hire a third-party professional

You can hire dedicated consultants specialising in D&I training to help build your programme or conduct the training itself. Consultants often work with a variety of teams and individuals, giving them specific experience to apply to your group. Sometimes, employees are also more receptive to training by a third-party consultant than that of a human resource team member, for example.

Related: 9 Consulting Skills To Be a Successful Consultant

What do diversity and inclusion consultants do?

Diversity consultants partner with groups, businesses and organisations to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They assess current levels of D&I, strategically plan how and where to increase it and establish change management policies and procedures to reach your goals. D&I consultants often:

  • Assess company demographics

  • Forecast diversity metrics

  • Provide recommendations

  • Develop training programmes for employees

  • Train human resource staff on how to choose and keep employees

  • Lead communication D&I strategies

  • Update job descriptions to use inclusive language

  • Recommend compensation and benefits packages that work for all employees

  • Ensure D&I compliance with national regulations, guidelines or laws

You might hire D&I consultants for project-based work, like creating a programme or doing a company culture assessment.

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