Diversity in the Workplace

By Nicola Mullineux
12 Jun 2019

At the heart of every successful business is a respected workforce. These employees work hard to help reach company aims.

When you respect your teams, they become more driven towards hitting goals. That’s where diversity plays a part. A diverse workforce produces results in ways you wouldn’t normally think.

Don't underestimate the importance of workplace diversity. If you do, you could face brand damage, higher turnover, and even tribunal claims.

In this guide, we'll look at what diversity is, what the laws say, and how to build an inclusive workplace.

What is diversity?

Diversity in the workplace is all about hiring people from different backgrounds and protected characteristics.

But it's not only used to represent culture or gender differences. It's about employing people who are unique and offer different viewpoints.

When it comes to diversity, there are so many factors to think about. But in the end, it's all about individualism.

All companies should promote diversity; but sometimes, people face discrimination because of it. It’s important to show your staff that it's their 'differences' that makes them valuable.

A worker wearing clothing related to their culture or religious beliefs.

What are examples of diversity in the workplace?

If you hire the same type of employee, you run the risk of limiting your output. It also reflects badly on customers and clients who view your company.

When asked about diversity, some people think of gender, age, or other protected characteristics. But it doesn't stop there; here are examples of diversity in the workplace:

  • Cultural diversity: This relates to a person's religion, traditions, and beliefs.
  • Socio-economic diversity: This relates to a person's income, community, or educational background.
  • National origin diversity: This relates to where a person was born or raised in the world.

Is diversity the same as inclusion?

No, diversity is not the same as inclusion. But it's very common to talk about the two together.

Inclusion is about having a sense of belonging. In a workplace definition, it's about making teams feel welcome and valued. For example, some employees have religious practices they follow every day. It’s up to the business to respect and normalise them.

With inclusion, your workforce can do their job with comfort. And this grows mutual respect and loyalty. In the end, employers gain higher staff retention and profitability.

Most companies have a diversity and inclusion-led approach. And understand that each term has its own definition and legal needs.

Remember, a diverse company isn't automatically inclusive. And an inclusive company isn't always diverse.

What is the law on workplace diversity?

In the UK, employers have a legal duty when it comes to diversity in the workplace. Your business needs to promote it, along with equality and inclusion.

Every employee - no matter what their background is - should be treated fair. There are certain diversity groups stated in UK law.

Under the Equality Act 2010, there are nine protected characteristics mentioned:

You can utilise the benefits of diversity, as it can help employees thrive at work. It helps grow their individual skills and opens their minds to new experiences and perspectives.

Employees should never face bullying, harassment, and victimisation because of their ‘differences’. (For example, because of factors relating to social or cultural diversity).

a diverse workplacea diverse and collaborative workplace

How to promote diversity in the workplace

Employers can hugely benefit from building diverse companies. You'll be able to utilise unique talents, skills, and experiences.

In the end, these employees feel valued as respected members of the team. Meaning, they're motivated to work for you.

Let's look at ways to promote diversity in the workplace:

Create an inclusive workspace

It's important to remember that employees are not 'only' employees. They have their own personal life and commitments outside of work.

Every employee has their own values and differences. And these don't stop the second they walk through the office door.

So, create an inclusive workspace where employees can be themselves. This can help create a sense of belonging. Diversity and inclusion should allow them to express themselves openly, without any worries.

For example, you can provide women with paid leave during their menstrual cycles. Employers can add these rules to their menstruation policy.

Widen your recruitment process

Recruitment is another area where you can improve diversity. The more inclusive your process is, the more talented candidates you'll find.

It's not just about hiring applicants of different genders (i.e., men and women). It's about attracting a diverse range of candidates. A bigger talent-pool means you’ll be able to find applicants with unique experiences and culture differences.

Introduce this during your initial interview processes. And make sure your interview panel is diverse. That way, you can cover a wide spectrum of characteristics. (Like religion, sexual orientation, age, and gender diversity).

You should also avoid narrowing down your searches. Like only hiring people who studied at a certain school. This will limit your access to greater talent and create a homogenous world.

Openly talk about being more diverse

You can't suddenly grow diversity and inclusion overnight. These things take time and effort.

So, have open and honest talks about being more diverse. Ask employees about changes your plan on making to achieve this.

Hold meetings where employees can openly share their thoughts. Or give them anonymous forms to do this instead. Just make sure you're transparent about your diversity data.

Once they've shared their opinions, make sure you address each one. And if lots of people have the same idea, try and incorporate it positively.

Become an ally business

When it comes to social justice, companies cannot afford to keep quiet. All employers should act as an ally to promote diversity and inclusion.

There are so many ways you can do this. From collecting data on business equality, to joining social groups and marches. Make sure you protect your employees’ rights in and out of the workplace. In the end, they’ll respect your efforts towards diversity.

What are the benefits of diversity?

There are so many benefits that diverse companies gain as leverage, compared to other companies.

Let’s look at the benefits of diversity in the workplace:

Grows brand-name

Diversity helps promote your brand-name in a crowded business space.

These environments make your workplace look like a desirable place to work. It also attracts candidates with better talent and skills.

Quality point of views

A diverse workforce means you get to see things from a unique point of view.

You'll be able to utilise quality insights that you'd never considered before. This method of productivity helps companies work more collaboratively and efficiently.

Access to better creativity

One of the best benefits is the possibility of more creative solutions.

That's not to say, only people from ethnic minorities are creative. It's about tapping into a group which presents new examples or ways of working.

Different people have different life experiences. Meaning that these experiences can present unique and innovative working practices.

Reduces staff turnover

When employees feel valued and comfortable, they are less likely to want to leave your company.

Diverse teams are more likely to feel secure in their roles compared to other workplaces. They'll understand their value and what diversity brings to the business.

This attitude leads to a higher commitment and motivation at work. In the end, it helps reduce the number of employees leaving the business (or staff turnover).

Better problem-solving skills

A diverse group brings about focused perspectives. And this is especially useful in workplaces that need high problem-solving skills.

As mentioned, the definition of diversity is linked to unique experience and knowledge. And this is transferable to any kind of business.

Evidence of higher engagement

Mutual respect means employees are more engaged at work. They're motivated to reach goals in the best way possible.

All companies, like all employees, are unique. Each one has their own needs. So, employers should aim to improve this.

Diversity and inclusion not only build revenue; it helps to grow personal careers.

Workplace diversity through ethnicity, age, and gender backgrounds.

Get expert support on diversity with Croner

Sexual orientation, age, gender - you shouldn't ignore the importance of diversity at work.

It helps companies promote individuality and progression. You'll see, it’ll help employees develop their careers.

If you ignore diversity, you could indirectly end up facing discriminationWorkplace diversity through ethnicity, age, and gender backgrounds. claims. Which means, paying compensation, losing valuable teams, and suffering from brand damage.

But you don’t need to deal with this alone. From building your policy to fixing your hiring practices, our HR advisors are here to help.

Have questions about diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Speak to a Croner expert in regard to any HR or employment law issue on 0800 470 2755.


About the Author

Nicola Mullineux

Nicola Mullineux, as Group Content Manager, leads a team of employment law content writers who produce guidance and commentary on employment law, case law and key HR developments. She has written articles for national publications for over 10 years and regularly helps to shape employment of the future by taking part in Government consultations on employment law change.


Nicola Mullineux

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