Want to build a resilient, collaborative, and robust team? Prioritize diversity.
Incorporating diversity and inclusion into the workplace is about more than contributing to a healthy work culture. Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion supports employee retention, team work, productivity, and innovation, to name a few. Plus, it also makes business sense: "companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially," according to findings from McKinsey & Company.
So, why is it important to have a diverse workforce, and what exactly does that look like? Ahead, we'll dive into some of the ways diversity manifests itself in the workplace, including cultural, generational, and gender diversity.
Why is diversity and inclusion important in the workforce?
For starters, let's define our terms.
Diversity, according to one definition, "encompasses the range of similarities and differences each individual brings to the workplace, including but not limited to national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures." With this definition in mind, workforce diversity can be summed up "as a collection of individual attributes that together help us pursue organizational objectives efficiently and effectively."
Inclusion "is a state of being valued, respected, and supported. It’s about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential."
Putting it altogether, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is about embracing and valuing differences. While this may sound intuitive, the lack of diversity and inclusion in today's workplaces—for instance, the severe lack of Black representation among Fortune 500 leadership—shows we need to be intentional about incorporating diversity and inclusion into our workspaces.
As previously reported by McKinsey & Company, organizations who do so will see the benefits, from strengthening their recruitment pipelines and retaining employees to overall stronger financial performance. Plus, workplace culture matters more than ever to the next generation, Gen Z, the most diverse generation in our nation's history. In fact, 83% of Gen Z individuals point to an employer's commitment to diversity and inclusion as a significant factor in job choice, according to Entrepreneur.com. In the long run, it's the organizations that prioritize a culture of diversity and inclusion that will come out on top.
Why is cultural diversity important in the workplace?
When picturing a diverse workforce, we often think about the cultural, racial, or ethnic components of diversity. Don't fall into the trap of seeing this facet of diversity as a quotas game. Cultural diversity in the workplace strengthens teams through soft skills like intercultural competence and even opens up business and partnership opportunities.
Cultural diversity in the workplace strengthens teams
According to researchers, "a positive effect of cultural diversity in the workplace is that employees belonging to different cultures usually have different ways of thinking and can thus analyze a matter at hand from a variety of perspectives." In other words, a culturally diverse work environment allows team members to engage in a type of collaboration, teamwork, and even analysis that would not be possible if everyone belonged to the same culture. Such shared perspectives can result in better, more inclusive decision making.
Cultural diversity in the workplace supports growth
Building a culturally diverse team can open up business and partnership opportunities as your organization expands, according to the Journal of Diversity Management. Whether growing locally or globally, the intercultural competence that comes from working on a diverse team means your workforce will be more prepared for cross-cultural deals and partnerships.
Why is gender diversity important?
Gender diversity in the workplace goes hand-in-hand with equity and inclusion. Currently, women are "significantly underrepresented in leadership," according to the 2022 Women in the Workplace report. Leadership pipelines are broken for women, and most workplace policies inhibit women's day-to-day work and responsibilities (think: flexible work arrangements for primary caretakers, mental health support, or emergency childcare benefits). This lack of inclusion and inequality ultimately leads to little to no gender diversity in the workplace, particularly when it comes to leadership roles in the boardroom and in the C-suite.
"Gender diversity doesn’t mean your company needs a 50/50 mix of males and females in every job in the company," according to Insperity. "It does mean, however, that all roles – at every level in the company – should have a fair representation of both sexes."
Representation matters. The next generation of female leaders is even more ambitious, and places a high priority on "an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace," per findings from Women in the Workplace. Without gender diversity in the workplace, we're missing out on crucial voices, perspectives, and representation, including women of color, women with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Why is generational diversity important?
Generational diversity in the workplace may be one of the most overlooked pieces of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that's likely because it's not one of the factors we can easily see, like gender or race. According to reporting from Entrepreneur.com, age is one of the most common implicit biases people hold. "Most people have more positive associations with younger people than older people and 93% of older Americans have experienced age bias."
Removing age biases and incorporating generational diversity in the workplace has several advantages, including:
- Relating to your audience. Today's virtual or in-person offices are increasingly becoming a collision point for five different generations of Americans. The same is true of your customer base. Having a workforce reflective of your population means you'll be better able to provide products and services that meet their needs (and wants).
- Integrating a wide range of viewpoints. Each generation enters the workplace with a specific context and worldview that informs how they engage with problems and find solutions. Generational diversity ensures you'll have a variety of perspectives to pull from, whether it's from prior experience with layoffs and economic downturns or managing a remote team.
- Building robust mentorship connections. Both younger and older generations have something to learn from one another. Generational diversity in the workplace can contribute to meaningful mentorship relationships that contribute to job satisfaction as well as professional and personal growth.
Advance diversity at your organization with AboveBoard
At AboveBoard, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is our singular focus. We're on a mission to see that today's boardrooms and C-suites are reflective of the population in terms of cultural, gender, and generational diversity. We believe that in doing so, we'll build up resilient businesses that incorporate more fair hiring practices and celebrate perspectives and collaboration, all while engaging in more inclusive decision making.
We're accomplishing this through our two-sided platform that disrupts the traditional structure of the executive hiring process. AboveBoard's inclusive platform enables members to expand their career opportunities and companies to diversify their leadership teams. Here, you'll find transparent, direct access to executive opportunities at today's leading organizations, as well as connectivity to more than 50,000 diverse candidates ready to take the next step in their career.