Workplace Diversity: What it is and How to Achieve It

Chances are you’ve heard the phrase diversity in the workplace. In recent years, this phrase, and what it entails, has become increasingly important. However, though diversity has finally reached the forefront of workplace discussions, a truly inclusive workplace is still hard to come by. That’s because it’s no longer just about meeting quotas and adhering to compliance standards. Today, it’s about representation, respect and recognition. Workplace diversity means equality, not just in salaries and promotions: employees want to feel seen and heard through company culture.

Across all industries, there are just a handful of companies that truly emulate what it means to embrace and celebrate diversity in the workplace. Here are some examples.

  • Accenture
    At Accenture, which has long been known for embracing diversity as a source of creativity, innovation and competitive advantage, they believe that “no one should be discriminated against because of their differences.” Diversity training within the company is broken into three different categories: Diversity AwarenessDiversity Management and Professional Development.
  • Disney
    They say that Disney World is the happiest place on earth but is it one of the most diverse places to work? “As a company built on the magic of storytelling that entertains, enlightens and inspires families, Disney recognizes that diversity and inclusion are fundamental to its success.” Along with setting up the Global Workplace and Women’s Initiative program (which focuses on expanding opportunities for women), the organization also successfully achieved more promotions for Latinos.
  • Mastercard
    They believe that “diversity is what drives better insights, better decisions, and better products. It is the backbone of innovation.” A particularly unique project that Mastercard has executed over the past few years involves getting older employees in the company more active when it comes to social media.

Check the 2019 Diversity Inc Top 50 Companies for Diversity to find out which corporations, besides the ones above, better understand the business value of diversity-management initiatives.

Diversity gives access to a greater range of talent, making organizations more effective, more successful and more profitable. However, actually achieving it in practice has turned out to be far more difficult.

Here are four clear steps towards making workplace diversity a reality.

  • Clearly identify what you are trying to achieve
    Saying your company has workplace diversity is not good enough. Too many diversity initiatives simply miss their intended target. Only by understanding what the ultimate goal is can you have a chance of achieving it.
  • Do not copy and paste
    Every organization is unique, so every diversity initiative needs to be too. Every program needs to take into account the specific culture and context of its host organization if it is going to do the required job.
  • Don’t just design a great program, have a great implementation too!
    Simply handing over even the best designed program to individuals who may not have the tools, the capability or perhaps the motivation to implement it is likely to end up in failure. Or to put it another way, what looks good on paper too often falls apart in practice. Be sure to employ the right people who share the same commitment to diversity when deploying your program.
  • Win hearts and minds
    Successful initiatives answer this basic question, “Why should I do this?”. If individuals within the organization cannot see the benefits of a program (or even worse if they identify disadvantages) then it will ultimately fail.

However, the benefits of true workplace diversity are so obviously attractive that the challenges inherent in it simply have to be addressed.

To sum up, workplace diversity is not just a buzzword. It has tangible and direct benefits, and that is why many corporations are now implementing steps to better achieve it. Hopefully, the four steps outlined above will help you and your organization do that as well!

Header Image Courtesy of: hrtechnologist

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