Diversity and Inclusion at Work: More Than Just Buzzwords

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November 30, 2021
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4 min read

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) shouldn’t just be buzzwords to companies or employees. On the contrary: research proves that the more diverse and inclusive your company is, the happier your employees will be, boosting employee retention and satisfaction levels overall.

If you believe that your company might be falling short on its diversity and inclusion goals, let’s review what these terms mean, examine the business case for investing in D&I programs, and how to draft a successful strategy to accomplish it.

What's the difference between diversity and inclusion?

The concepts of diversity and inclusion are often used interchangeably. That doesn't mean, however, that they’re the same. Diversity is about representation. Inclusion, on the other hand, is about integrating and empowering the contribution, presence, and perspective of different groups of people. 

If you have a diverse company, you might have employees from different genders, races, nationalities, and sexual orientations and identities. However, if your company only values the opinions or interests of certain groups – i.e., only one group has authority and/or influence in the company's decisions – then your company is not inclusive. 

Only with inclusion can we achieve representative diversity. Otherwise, your organization will be stuck in the buzzword game, with a relevant diverse percentage but no real meaning behind it.

The proven importance of D&I

It’s an indisputable fact that companies should respect the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of all their team members. Sadly, there’s a common tendency for D&I to be used as a device for external communication and public relations, while internal dynamics reveal a different picture. To counter this hollow approach, let’s examine why diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords – they’re key elements to drive a healthy culture, high productivity and low turnover. 

A McKinsey 2019 analysis has shown that companies which dedicate more resources and time to gender diversity on executive teams are 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability. And that’s just statistics for gender diversity.

As for inclusion, it has been identified as one of the most important contributors to employee retention. Likewise, when you have an inclusive workplace culture, it will help you attract more diverse talent. Inclusion has also been shown to drive:

  • More revenue growth
  • Innovation and creativity across the company
  • Job satisfaction
  • A boost in well-being
  • Career opportunities

According to a Great Place to Work research, when D&I are a priority, employees are:

  • 9.8 times more likely to look forward to going to work
  • 6.3 times more likely to have pride in their work
  • 5.4 times more likely to want to stay a long time at their company

These numbers are clear in their message – only when taking diversity and inclusion into consideration, can organizations offer true support and empowerment to their people, regardless of their background. This will create a strong sense of trust and commitment from employees.

“D&I needs to be something that every single employee at the company has a stake in.”
Bo Young Lee
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Uber

How to foster D&I in your organization

If the first step to successfully foster and grow D&I in your organization is to understand exactly what these terms mean and how impactful they actually are, the second is to decide how to go about it. More importantly, how to go about it in an effective and successful way. 

The truth is that even when there’s a clear awareness that diversity and inclusion programs are crucial to helping employees feel happy, and an honest effort to make it work is in place, many of these programs fail because there's no real sense of belonging amongst employees. The result is that 40 percent of the workforce still feels isolated.

While crucial for business success, meaningful work is not always easy to achieve. Read our guide to better understand the concept and learn the steps to foster meaningful work in your team.

An effective way to promote D&I, and therefore belonging, in your organization is through digital coaching. Coaching supports the D&I process in many ways, reverting the isolating feeling. Here are four ways digital coaching can reduce the feeling of work isolation and nurture a strong D&I culture:

1. Digital Coaching Supports Employee Well-being

Once digital coaching helps individuals understand their unique perspectives, it gives them a solution toolkit to many of their challenges. They’re also more prepared to support themselves in finding their place and can build the feeling that their uniqueness can empower them.

2. Digital Coaching Cultivates Inclusive Culture

Once employees are feeling confident with their new toolkit, digital coaching creates a positive ripple effect: empowered employees help raise awareness and hold space for other team members. This way, the overall impact is priceless, creating a workplace culture based on inclusiveness, empathy, and mutual support.

3. Digital Coaching Accelerates Employee Development

If employees feel represented, their motivation and performance improves – not to mention their well-being. Then, they can develop more – both personally and professionally. The main barriers stopping employees from this desired development are: 

  • Old-fashioned workplace cultures (e.g., misogynist hierarchies, non-diverse)
  • Biases (unconscious or not)
  • Lack of representation
4. Digital Coaching Enables Healthy Leadership

A company is made of people – and people are the agents of change. Digital coaching goes far and beyond the individuals who have been coached. When it comes to leaders, digital coaching helps them:

  • Become more aware of unconscious bias
  • Define their responsibilities supporting D&I
  • And focus on integration and empathy

D&I programs have to be lived to work, and digital coaching eases the transformation and change of attitude necessary. Digital coaching, when combined with diversity and inclusion programs, supports each employee's personal identity development and learning. Not only does it enhance their well-being but also strengthens their personal and professional development, giving them the tailored tools they need for success.

Sharpist drives the growth of organizations and their people through 1:1 digital coaching and personalized learning.
Diversity and Inclusion at Work: More Than Just Buzzwords
Sofia Alves
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