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    Modern workplaces are focusing on diversity and inclusion with heightened scrutiny. However, this long-overdue change doesn’t simply mean hiring more women or people of color, and it also isn’t just about virtue signaling. 

    Diversity in the workforce is the heart of an organization. It exemplifies how a company can work together to increase morale and productivity while creating a sense of connection and belonging. 

    Defining Workplace Diversity 

    No two humans are alike. In its most basic form, the word diversity signifies a state that incorporates many different varieties or types. Diversity takes on a heightened meaning that many organizations overlook in the workforce. It also demands action that some companies have a hard time achieving. 

    Workplaces that exhibit diversity consist of employees and leaders from a wide range of backgrounds. Diversity concerns the similarities and differences among employees regarding age, culture background, physical abilities/disabilities, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. By accepting, including, and empowering diverse individuals, enterprises challenge the status quo and optimize organizational objectives, positively impacting productivity. 

    Why Workplace Diversity is a Challenge 

    According to a 2021 Affirmity study, two-fifths of organizations lack mature DEI initiatives. In addition, many organizations suffer from diversity deficiencies in their leadership ranks, with women and ethnic minorities underrepresented in executive positions – even when they might make up significant percentages of the greater workforce. 

    The same research found that some companies don’t spend enough time on DEI. Other companies have initiatives in place but lack an understanding of efficacy measurement. 

    Historically, societies and people have drawn distinctions between themselves and their neighbors. For instance, hundreds of cultures have been lumped into vague, biologically unfounded definitions of race. To this day, many of us make rote assumptions about how others act or might act based on their sexual orientation, gender identification, ethnicity, physical attributes, disability status, and a host of similar factors. Such trends remain problematic because leaders, HR professionals, and executives subsequently make career-changing decisions based on these preconceptions – impacting their employees whether they realize it or not. 

    Moving Forward 

    Building a diverse workforce means giving all voices more equitable opportunities to take part and share a seat at the table. For instance, an employer might work to overcome their gender biases by questioning whether behaviors like sexually charged jokes are conducive to a welcoming workplace. Or they might redirect their hiring and community reinvestment efforts to focus on nearby neighborhoods with more diverse compositions, particularly those that have been underserved. 

    The Value of a DEI-centric Outlook 

    Cultural awareness and empowering differences foster innovation and productivity and help your business to outperform the competition.  

    If your company strategy includes expanding globally, DEI will support this initiative by improving customer service in a global market.  

    Creativity also flourishes under a DEI culture. It reduces “group think” and promotes better problem-solving that builds on multiple perspectives, helping solve those complex issues. 

    Empowering different voices to be heard is vital for the employee and the organization. When an employee feels confident and comfortable sharing their perspective, they develop a sense of value and satisfaction. As for leaders who make decisions, they are better equipped with possibilities that might not have otherwise been considered. 

    Members of diverse workforces work together to realize quality results. By recognizing and compensating for their colleagues’ blind spots, they drive stronger organizational narratives that appeal to consumers, investors, and stakeholders. 

    It Starts with Leadership 

    Leaders must realize that the onus for changing their workplace cultures rests squarely with them. Unfortunately, many HR Leaders focus on the employee pipeline and hiring new people to the exclusion of DEI. In the process, they often lose focus on the total employee experience. 

    Executives must come together and identify how they can enable inclusion daily. When leaders set the tone for their people, others follow – so it’s up to CEOs, managers, and decision-makers to create a culture they can take pride in. 

    What Human Resources Can Do to Get DEI Initiatives Rolling: 

    • Educate employees and organizational stakeholders on common, inoffensive, and inclusive language, 
    • Host various motivational and mentorship programs, 
    • Create a DEI-focused committee to help move the needle beyond the basics, 
    • Encourage employee participation and feedback in a non-threatening setting, 
    • Keep channels of communication open among management and employees, as well as cross-functional departments, and 
    • Ensure hiring and onboarding processes are geared towards accessibility. 

    Diversity is critical to creating a healthy workplace and staying competitive, but it’s just the beginning. From providing services to maintaining a steady work-life balance and an employee’s healthy mind, there are many ways to improve and promote company values– and support its people. Take a more holistic approach to comprehensive employee wellbeing by visiting Espyr today. 


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