Everyone’s talking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but what does it really mean? Why does it matter? What should you do about it? If you feel like conversations around this topic have started to leave you behind, don’t worry, you’re not alone. And we’ve got your back. Here is your short and to-the-point briefing on the fundamentals you need to know.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion as a strategy, and indeed a movement, brings together two concepts:

Diversity describes a population (in this case, an organisation) that is made up of varied and different individuals.

Inclusion describes the process of making it possible for all those varied people to participate in and contribute to the organisation.

You’ll sometimes see the overall function referred to as Equality, Diveristy and Inclusion – see a previous blog post for why you might want to swap out “equality” for “equity”. We tend to use the term “diversity and inclusion”, partly to keep things simple (language around this topic is already complicated and confusing) and partly because those two words cover the clear progression – we need a diverse range of people, and we need to make sure that they are all included.

Towards belonging

However, inclusion isn’t the end.

A diverse team is a huge benefit to an organisation because it offers a variety of ideas, perspectives, points of view and opportunities – but you can only benefit from all of those if people are included so that they can be in the room in the first place and able to share their thoughts and knowledge.

But to take things to the next level, you need all these varied and different people to want to give the full benefit of all those ideas and understandings. You need them to feel able and willing to give the best of themselves. Their full selves.

You need them to feel that they belong.

When people feel a sense of belonging in an organisation, they feel that they’re part of a mission they believe in, and that they’re working together on this with a united team of people who share their values and who support each other in pursuit of their goal.

Diversity is the starting point – we already live in a fantastically diverse world. Inclusion is the journey. Belonging is the destination.

Why does diversity and inclusion matter at work?

When you have a varied group of people who all feel able (and willing) to share different ideas and perspectives, you end up with a far more successful organisation. Diverse and inclusive teams are:

  • 19% more innovative
  • 25% more productive
  • Better at decision-making 87% of the time
  • 33% more profitable

Diverse teams have also been proven to be better at spotting, managing and recovering from crises (quite a useful trait over the last few years!).

Not only does diversity and inclusion benefit your performance, but it’s hugely valuable to your reputation:

  • 58% of jobseekers look for diversity and inclusion in potential employers
  • 39% of jobseekers won’t even apply for a role if they don’t believe the organisation is inclusive
  • Inclusion and belonging reduce staff turnover rate by 50%
  • Consumers are four times more likely to buy from a brand with purpose
  • 82% of consumers choose brands who share their values

And, you know, it also makes everyone happier and is the right thing to do. So it’s a win-win!

What should you do about diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

You need a clear diversity and inclusion strategy, with a clear action plan, in order to make a meaningful impact.

If you’re confused about how to put those together… you’re in luck! Our upcoming webinar will help you get started:

What is inclusion and where do you start?

16th March 2023, 11am – 12pm

This session will help you get to grips with some more of the fundamental concepts involved in diversity, inclusion and belonging, and show you how to put your action plan together.

This webinar is part of our Getting Started with Diversity and Inclusion series. You can buy tickets for all three sessions, covering an introduction to diversity and inclusion at work, understanding unconscious bias, and cultivating an anti-racist approach, on our website to skip the Eventbrite fees!