Everyone works in the same market, but cultural backgrounds, upbringings, and perspectives can be very different. At first glance, it might not seem that way. Work starts and ends, for most people, between 9-5 on weekdays. Starbucks charges $2.10 for a Grande Coffee no matter where you come from and the only seating assignments enforced on public transportation are for the medically impaired, pregnant or elderly. Race and cultures are not regulating factors in today’s world.
At least, it seems that way until you peel back the layers and look into the minds of Americans. There are polarizing viewpoints widespread within the workplace or any community for that matter. Companies that understand this and embrace it are not only statistically outperforming the competition, but helping people grow in a diverse workplace.
A survey done by the Pew Research Center has uncovered profound differences in how white and African American adults view racial issues today:
- 88% of African Americans believe the country needs to proactively make changes to bring about equal rights with whites. A much lower portion of whites, 53%, believe the country needs to work on creating equal rights with African Americans.
- 84% of African Americans feel they are treated less fairly by the police than whites. While only 50% of whites believe African Americans are treated less fairly.
- 66% of African Americans think that banks or credit unions judge them less fairly than whites when applying for loans, mortgages or credit. 25% of whites share this viewpoint while 75% of whites think financial institutions treat everyone the same.
- 41% of whites believe there is too much attention put on racial issues. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 58% of African Americans think there is too little attention dedicated to resolving racial issues today.
- Racial gaps in household income continue to persist. In 2014, the average white household made $71,300 annually while the average black household made $43,400.
- 70% of African Americans point to racial discrimination as the main barrier to being able to get ahead economically in today’s economy. Only 36% of whites share this viewpoint.
These statistics empirically show that Americans have very different views on race and the role it plays in their lives. Many believed these contrasting viewpoints to have died out years ago, but recent social conflicts such as racially motivated shootings and controversial interaction with law enforcement have brought these issues back into the spotlight.
All these contrasting viewpoints and diverse opinions don’t disappear when people show up for work. They are inherent to being an individual. HR departments are taking this into account within their own companies and are taking action to achieve workplace equality. Workplace equality is evolving from an ideology to a business strategy.
Salesforce recently pledged to achieve workplace equality and to show they were serious about it, appointed their first Chief Equality Officer. Diversity initiatives are being implemented at more than 75% of Fortune 1000 companies.
It is obvious there is diversity in our country when it comes to political or social views. But what exactly is workplace diversity?
Workplace diversity is understanding, embracing and valuing differences between people. These differences include but are not limited to, race, gender, age, religion, disabilities, education, skill sets, personalities, etc.
Deloitte spearheaded research into this area and found that diversity is perceived differently by generations. Millennials think diversity is the combination of backgrounds and perspectives. They believe that these differences interacting within the workplace can bring about innovation.
While Gen Xers and Baby Boomers define diversity along the lines of equal and fair representation regardless of cultural or racial background. They don’t seem to consider that diversity plays a role in business results, but recognize it as something to be conscious of in order to make sure everything is equal.
What is inclusion?
Inclusion is the creation of an environment where people can feel comfortable working, innovating and supporting each other. An inclusive environment isn’t created overnight and takes constant attention to achieve.
What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
“Diversity and inclusion,” is the company’s aim to support a diverse workplace and to leverage this diversity to achieve business success. It is not an attempt to shift or change people’s minds, but a proactive effort to utilize the diverse viewpoints of all to innovate and grow. When done successfully, the business grows and so do the people within its workplace.
Diversity and inclusion priorities
Forbes Insight conducted a survey of more than 300 senior executives (32% of which worked in HR or talent management). The survey showed their companies diversity and inclusion priorities:
- 65% said the recruitment of diverse employees
- 44% said retention of diverse talent
- 35% said ensuring diversity in the workplace
- 29% said developing a strong pipeline of new diverse talent
- 28% said managing cross-generational issues
56% of the companies surveyed believed that diversity helps drive innovation.
Diversity and inclusion best practices
Professor Roberson, Cornell University, conducted a survey of 330 HR executives. These are some of the best practices HR exes are using when it comes to diversity and inclusion:
- Equal and fair treatment
- Equal access to opportunity
- Focusing on innovation and creativity
- Conflict resolution processes that are collaborative
- Prominent display of commitment to achieve workplace equality such as appointing a Chief of Diversity or Equality Officer.
- Representing diversity at all levels of the organization
- Diversity education and training
Many employees feel their respective company is diverse and inclusive because of actions that aren’t obviously connected to diversity. For example, a focus on innovation and creativity. These are practices that are desired by everyone at every level of the workplace.
Key Diversity and Inclusion Strategies
- Ensuring that diversity and inclusion are part of how the CEO handles his or her affairs.
- Assigning responsibility for diversity and inclusion to a top exec.
- Training all levels on subjects like unconscious bias.
- Integrating diversity and inclusion strategies in recruitment, performance, management, leadership assessment, and training.
- Building employee networks like community outreach groups.
The Forbes Insight survey referenced early found that 60% of companies implement metrics to measure the success of their diversity and inclusion endeavors. Here are some impressive metrics:
- 77% of companies reported increased employee productivity.
- 67% reported improved workplace morale.
- 58% reported that it helped with employee turnover.
Why do organizations fail to create a diverse and inclusive work environment?
How Mentor Resources, Inc. can help.
Most organizations approach diversity through numbers and statistics. How many females are in high positions? What is the number of new hires from minority groups? What is the retention rate of veterans? These numbers might show you on a pie chart how “diverse” your company is but they aren’t enough to create an inclusive environment. Most companies push metrics like these and they are baffled when things don’t improve.
The answer is to shift focus away from metrics. Metrics should be considered, but they will always be secondary to humanizing strategies and inclusion programs.
Mentoring programs help employees feel a greater sense of belonging. Employees feel most included in a company when they feel they have a personal connection at all levels of the corporate ladder. Our mentor program connects compatible people together that would otherwise never interact. The workplace is humanized and inclusion becomes part of the workplace culture. Mentoring becomes the key tool that drives exposure to diverse views, increased retention rates and increased productivity as a result of an inclusive environment.
The most diverse and active organizations have a strong mentor program that constantly increases morale. Programs such as career mentoring, reverse mentoring and group mentoring can support your workforce and create an inclusive environment where everyone not only works with each other but is also constantly learning.
- Cultural and racial diversity is a reality. It’s a statistical fact. But companies today can embrace it to help their employees thrive in the workplace and boost business results through diversity and inclusion strategies.
- The top diversity and inclusion priority of most companies is the recruitment of diverse employees.
- Roughly half of the diversity and inclusion best practices are not directly related to diversity. They are practices that are wanted by everyone such as fair treatment and focusing on creativity.
- Diversity and inclusion can’t just be an HR program. It has to be embraced from the CEO all the way down to the lowest levels of the company.
- The success of diversity and inclusion programs are measured with hard facts and metrics such as employee productivity and turnover.
- To level the playing field in your organization, make mentoring a priority to engage all employees and to promote knowledge sharing between all employees.
Workplace diversity and inclusion are proven business practices that not only help your business grow but also the people that work within it. Successfully implementing proven diversity and inclusion strategies will give any business a huge competitive edge.