- Diversity means having a variety of skills, abilities, genders, races, ethnicities and more in the workplace; inclusion is the creation of a safe and supportive environment for all.
- Diversity and inclusion in the workplace can boost innovation by as much as 20%.
- Your company should seek to support and celebrate differences, as well as to promote positive change in the communities around you.
- This article is for small business owners who want to learn from real-life companies with strong diversity-and-inclusion practices.
Diversity and inclusion have become vital parts of modern business, as the benefits of having diverse talent on a team have become increasingly apparent. And while it's easy to recognize the importance of having a diversity-and-inclusion policy, it can be daunting to actually create and implement one that works. When you're creating your own diverse and inclusive working environment, it can be helpful to see how other companies are successfully promoting diversity and inclusion.
6 examples of diverse and inclusive companies
While the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace cannot be understated, it is difficult to know where to start and how to implement practices or strategies that work. To help you see what great diversity and inclusion initiatives look like, we've gathered a list of companies and their strategies and outlined what they're doing and why it works.
While Sodexo – a food and management services provider – has gender, age and sexual orientation explicitly outlined in its diversity hiring strategy, it places the highest priority on gender equality. The company has made gender balance a focus of its overall business strategy for 20 years, and it's paid off – Sodexo was included in the 2020 Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, which tracks the financial performance of companies committed to gender equality. Women make up 37% of Sodexo's executive committee and 60% of its board of directors. The company's goal is to have women representing at least 40% of its senior leadership staff.
2. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson – a global medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer goods company – has a detailed diversity-and-inclusion vision that aims "to maximize the global power of diversity and inclusion, to drive superior business results and sustainable competitive advantage." Johnson & Johnson is accomplishing this through employee resource groups, mentoring programs and the incorporation of diversity and inclusion initiatives into the company's everyday work.
For example, Johnson & Johnson makes a point to incorporate diverse voices into its marketing concept meetings. The company is also a founding member of the Unstereotype Alliance, which works to tackle gender imbalance in advertising.
Mastercard has ranked in the top 10 for diversity for four consecutive years by DiversityInc, as a result of its 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 12.
Mastercard also offers practical, direct employee benefits, such as sex reassignment surgery coverage; same-sex domestic partner coverage; and fertility treatment, surrogacy and adoption assistance.
4. Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare provider, is unique among many corporations in that 60% of its staff are people of color. What's more, 75% of employees, and half of the executive team, are female.
In 2020, Kaiser Permanente was named to the DiversityInc Top 50 Hall of Fame for its diversity-and-inclusion practices in hiring, retaining and promoting women; Black, Indigenous and people of color; veterans; people with disabilities; and members of the LBTQIA+ community. The company attributes its success to having leadership teams model inclusive behavior, promoting a "speak up" culture and encouraging employees to "lead from where they stand," thereby giving 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 130 countries on five continents. The company hosts a bevy of global initiatives aimed at bettering its communities, such as disability awareness workshops, multicultural mentorship programs and job training to vulnerable young populations.
L'Oréal also has a commitment to gender equality, with 69% of its workforce made up of women. L'Oréal achieves this by having a detailed diversity-and-inclusion strategy that the company implements at locations around the world, resulting in positive changes in its communities and elevating women into leadership positions across the company.
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% on the Corporate Equality Index, a benchmarking report on corporate policies and practices regarding LGBTQIA equality, in both 2017 and 2019.
The report evaluates LGBTQIA-related policies and practices, such as nondiscrimination, workplace protections, domestic partner benefits and transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits.
The lesson to take from Lenovo is that the inclusion of progressive and inclusive policies and benefits helps you attract talent and makes more employees feel supported at work.
Key takeaway: Companies that make a point to include women in leadership positions, have inclusive benefits policies and make positive changes in their communities are great examples to follow.
What are diversity and inclusion?
To create a diverse and inclusive environment, it is important to have a clear understanding of what diversity and inclusion mean in the context of the workplace.
Diversity means having a variety of abilities, skills, ages, genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, experiences and more identifiers present in your workplace. Diversity extends to anything that makes a person unique. [Read related: Why Inclusive Communication and Involvement Matter]
Within a work context, there are four types of diversity, called "dimensions":
- Internal. These are things a person is born with and cannot change, such as race, ethnicity or age.
- External. External diversity includes things that a person is not born with but can be heavily controlled or influenced by them, such as interests, education, appearance or citizenship.
- Organizational. This is related to your place of work and includes job function, work location or seniority status.
- World view. This relates to anything that a person experiences or observes that changes how they see the world around them, such as politics, world events or pop culture.
Inclusion is when those differences are valued and supported and barriers are removed that would prevent any person from reaching their full potential in the workplace. True inclusion celebrates all factors of diversity and enables every employee to perform at their best in a safe, supportive environment. [When launching a business, it is important to consider the role diversity and inclusion will play. Here's how to develop a diversity-and-inclusion strategy.]
Key takeaway: Workplace diversity means having people with a variety of skills, races, genders and more present in your workforce, while inclusion means providing a safe and supportive environment for all.
The importance of diversity and inclusion at work
Diversity and inclusion are vital to the success of your business. Organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion are 35% more likely to have better financial returns than companies that don't, according to a 2020 study by McKinsey & Co. Additionally, a study by Deloitte found that diversity and inclusion in the workplace can boost innovation by as much as 20%.
"Creating a diverse company culture gives you a unique advantage in the marketplace to create products that appeal to a diverse community," said Jonathan Bass, owner and CEO of Whom Home. "Brainstorming, idea generation and creativity are always enhanced with diverse input. If everybody in the room only likes gray and white, all your products will be reflective of a gray and white motif. Diversity brings color to product development and innovation. Ultimately, the benefit of a diverse workplace is not just doing the right thing but bringing a differentiation of thought."
It's also an important factor for many of today's job seekers, 70% of whom say they are looking to work for a company with a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Here are some other major benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace:
Connection to a wider range of customers
By having a diverse workforce, you increase your ability to connect with and understand a wider audience, which can help boost your revenue and marketing reach.
Employees want to stay at a company where they feel valued and supported, and a strong diversity-and-inclusion strategy can ensure that happens. Employees will be more engaged and likely to be committed to staying at the company and performing well.
The McKinsey study also found that diversifying your team can help boost productivity by 35% by encouraging your employees to innovate and think outside the box. Additionally, employees are more engaged with their work and more committed to the company's overall mission.
Larger talent pool
When you commit to diversifying your workforce, you open yourself up to a wider talent pool with candidates you may not have considered, and these workers can bring fresh perspectives and new skills to your business.
Key takeaway: Diversity and inclusion can help increase your business's productivity, reduce turnover rates and help you connect with more customers.