Diversity and inclusion have become vital parts of modern business as the benefits of having diverse team talent have become increasingly apparent. And while it’s easy to recognize the importance of a diversity-and-inclusion policy, it can be daunting to create and implement one that works.
We’ll examine the benefits of diversity and inclusion, share tips for becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, and highlight examples of companies successfully promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
To create a diverse and inclusive environment, entrepreneurs and business owners should clearly understand what diversity and inclusion mean in the workplace.
Diversity means having various abilities, skills, ages, genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, experiences and other identifiers present in your workplace. Diversity extends to anything that makes a person unique.
Within a work context, there are four types of diversity, also known as dimensions:
Inclusion is when diverse differences are valued and supported. In the workplace, it means removing barriers that would prevent anyone from reaching their full potential. A workplace culture of inclusion celebrates diversity factors and enables every employee to perform at their best in a safe, supportive environment.
As with any facet of company culture, businesses can proactively work toward becoming diverse and inclusive. Below are five ways you can increase diversity and inclusion within your business.
It’s one thing to desire a more diverse and inclusive workforce. It’s another thing entirely to actually include diverse employees in your plans. If you don’t get their involvement, you might end up speaking over them or making incorrect assumptions (and taking incorrect steps) on their behalf.
There’s an easy way to solve this problem: Get input from all your employees, then act on it. You can use employee surveys, informal talks and meetings to get everyone’s perspectives.
Once you’ve gleaned a variety of perspectives from employee feedback, you can make changes and introduce new programs that lead to true diversity and inclusion. These initiatives will be more meaningful for the people they seek to help.
Subconscious bias may affect hiring decisions. When hiring employees, indicators of internal diversity on a resume or job application can subconsciously — or consciously — influence decisions. To improve your hiring process, consider anonymous recruiting. Anonymous recruiting eliminates recruiting bias because hiring managers will only see the candidate’s qualifications. With this reduced bias comes a more diverse team.
You and your team may find it easiest to achieve diversity and inclusion if you enlist professional help. This is where diversity and inclusion training programs enter the picture. These programs — which all your employees should go through — combine cultural awareness training with education on more inclusive workplace behaviors. The lessons your team takes away from these programs can make for more harmonious, inclusive everyday interactions.
Technology reflects the biases of its creators, so auditing your artificial intelligence business tools and algorithms for bias is key to any meaningful diversity and inclusion strategy. This can be as simple as removing specific internal diversity indicators from your algorithms’ consideration. It can also mean getting several pairs of eyes on the conditions your recruiting algorithms or AI use. The more people who review your technology, the more potential bias sources might be uncovered.
Use tech tools for a more diverse talent pool. Some applications use skills-based tests and surveys to match people with jobs without looking at demographic info. Others enable blind resume reviews so hiring managers can’t make assumptions about candidates.
An inclusion council acts as a check on managers’ and leaders’ conscious and subconscious biases. It typically comprises diverse employees a level or two below the C-suite. These employees advocate to leadership and management for diversity on behalf of the entire team. With quarterly council meetings to review hiring, training, and management practices and diverse groups’ engagement, more inclusive policies become within reach.
While the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace cannot be understated, it isn’t easy to know where to start and how to implement practices or strategies that work. We’ve gathered a list of companies and what they’re doing to help you see what great diversity and inclusion initiatives look like.
Sodexo — a food and management services provider — has gender, age and sexual orientation explicitly outlined in its diversity hiring strategy. Historically, the company has placed the highest priority on gender equality, making gender balance a focus of its overall business strategy for 20 years.
This focus has paid off. Sodexo places among the top 20 of Equileap’s global gender equality rankings. Women comprise 29 percent of Sodexo’s executive committee and 60 percent of its board of directors. The company aims to have women representing at least 40 percent of its senior leadership staff.
Johnson & Johnson — a global medical devices, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods company — has a detailed diversity-and-inclusion vision that aims “for every person to use their unique experiences, abilities and backgrounds, together — to spark solutions that create a better, healthier world.” Johnson & Johnson is accomplishing this through employee resource groups, diverse hiring, and incorporating diversity and inclusion initiatives into the company’s everyday work.
For example, Johnson & Johnson makes a point to prioritize ability diversity with resource groups, hiring partnerships and supplier-based initiatives. The company is also a founding member of the Unstereotype Alliance, which works to tackle gender imbalance in advertising.
Mastercard has ranked in DiversityInc’s top 10 for diversity in nearly all recent years. This is due to Mastercard’s commitment to several initiatives. For example, Mastercard is dedicated to equal pay for equal work; uses technology for social good; and sponsors Girls4Tech, a STEM curriculum that provides mentorships and career support to girls ages 8 to 16.
Mastercard also offers work-life balance initiatives. Mastercard’s practical, direct employee benefits include transgender surgery coverage; same-sex domestic partner coverage; and fertility treatment, surrogacy and adoption assistance.
Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare provider, is unique among many corporations in that 69 percent of its staff are people of color. What’s more, 73 percent of employees are women. The company has attributed its success to leadership teams that model inclusive behavior, promoting a “speak up” culture and encouraging employees to “lead from where they stand,” which helps give everyone a voice and a platform to enact change.
L’Oréal is notable for its long-standing commitment to multicultural diversity, with a presence in over 150 countries on five continents. The company has stated its commitment to gender equity and the inclusion of LGBTQ+ employees.
Women comprise 68 percent of L’Oréal’s total workforce. Half of all L’Oréal board members are women, as are 32 percent of executive board members. Furthermore, the company has earned the EDGE (Economic Dividend for Gender Equality) certification in the U.S. This certification acts as confirmation of L’Oréal’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Lenovo, a global PC provider, has built its company on the concept that “different is better,” championing and weaving diversity into the fabric of its business. Lenovo has scored 100 percent on the Corporate Equality Index, a benchmarking report on corporate policies and practices regarding LGBTQ+ equality, as recently as 2022.
The report evaluates LGBTQ+ policies and practices, including non-discrimination, workplace protections, domestic partner benefits and transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits.
Lenovo demonstrates that including progressive and inclusive policies and benefits helps you attract and retain top talent and makes more employees feel supported at work.
Diversity and inclusion are vital to the success of your business. Here are some significant benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace:
Improve diversity and inclusion by adding floating holidays to your employee benefits package. This ensures employees can observe religious and cultural celebrations most organizations don’t recognize as paid holidays.
Rich diversity and inclusion policies and programs make for happier employees and stronger recruiting prospects. On top of that, they benefit your customers because a diverse, inclusive workplace promotes higher-quality work that improves your products and services. With the right initiatives in place, you can even operate on the same level as household-name brands. And that’s a surefire sign you’re doing something right.
Kiely Kuligowski contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.