What is the difference between equality and diversity?
What is equality in the workplace? Equality aims to ensure that
all individuals have equal opportunities to succeed, and it
prevents individuals from being discriminated against or treated
differently due to certain personality or physical
characteristics. Diversity, on the other hand, is about
appreciating differences between individuals, and in context with
the workplace ensuring that each of these varying attributes and
characteristics are valued.
What is the importance of diversity in the workplace?
So why is workplace diversity important? Diversity and inclusion
are a vital part of workplace culture; not only are they important
for the well-being of a company's employees, but will also benefit
the business itself. Below are two lists, detailing the benefits
of workplace diversity for employees and employers. What are the
benefits of diversity in the workplace for employees?
Within a diverse workplace, employees can better understand each
other's differences. This will often help to reduce conflicts
between even the most different team members; and will often unite
people with a common purpose rather than divide them.
When employees' recognise that differences are embraced and
celebrated in an organisation, they are likely to also be more
confident in their own unique qualities. Encouraging diversity can
help to boost confidence and performance from individual team
members, who may be more easily able to express their ideas,
become closer to their colleagues and enjoy and take pride in
Boosting employee engagement
Employees are far more likely to perform well in an environment
where diversity and inclusion are top priority. The whole point of
diversity & inclusion that it is about everyone, not just
underrepresented groups - so encouraging everyone to be confident
in their ability will only help to boost morale and employee
engagement across the entire team.
Increased range of ideas
One of the key benefits of diversity in society is the vast range
of ideas that can be explored. Diversity in the workplace will
often result in a much broader spectrum of creativity, from people
with different backgrounds, skills and experiences. A wider range
of different perspectives will be highly beneficial across all
teams; from marketing to finance.
Increased employee engagement
Generally speaking, employees who feel included and wanted will be
more engaged and motivated to do well. In turn, a more engaged
team will often yield better team performance; making it a win-win
Boosts company reputation & simplifies recruitment processes
Diversity in the workplace will help to build a great reputation
for the company; especially important when you are looking to hire
and retain talent. Especially in terms of graduate recruitment,
D&I can play a huge role in attracting candidates to your
business; if done well, it can also help you stand out from the
Wider talent pool to choose from
Companies that only hire men, for example, are limiting themselves
to the skills of half the population, this is just one of the many
benefits of gender diversity in the workplace.
Helps you to understand your customers better
Having a more diverse team will help your company gain a broader
understanding of your customers, what they want and what they look
for. Who knows? Your company could be missing out on a huge group
of potential customers that could be explored by hiring more
Reduce employee turnover
Companies with a diverse workforce will tend to retain employees
for longer, because ultimately employees who feel accepted and
valued will be much less likely to leave. Likewise, companies who
clearly value career development, and really care about their
employees, will tend to have a much higher retention rate than
those who don't.
Benefits of diversity in the workplace statistics?
Still not convinced of the importance of diversity in the
workplace? Here are some key statistics that indicate the value
and benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
67% of job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important
factor when evaluating companies and job offers. Glassdoor
83% of millennials are more engaged when they think their
company fosters an inclusive culture. Deloitte
Companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more
likely to have financial returns that were above their national
industry median. Companies in the top quartile of racial/ ethnic
diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above
their national industry median. McKinsey
Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity
brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than
those with the lowest levels of racial diversity. Science Daily
Challenges of diversity in the workplace
Companies across a range of industries are embracing a more
diverse workforce; but with these benefits also come some key
obstacles to overcome, as there are many challenges of managing
diversity in the workplace. Below are the most common challenges
of diversity in the workplace which are important to consider.
Hiring employees from a range of cultures and backgrounds has
fantastic benefits for businesses; but can occasionally result in
communication or language barriers within a team. This can
sometimes lead to frustration amongst employees and productivity
Whether it's a VISA or specific cultural requirements, hiring
employees from different countries can be tricky; especially if
you are a relatively young company. As well as posing a logistical
challenge, it's important to remember that these accommodations
can also sometimes be an added business cost to factor into your
Gender equality issues
Salary inequality between men and women has been a huge topic of
discussion in recent years. Individuals that are treated unequally
can become demotivated and often choose to leave, causing
increases in staff turnover. The Equal Pay Act aims to prevent
gender equality issues by ensuring companies pay equally between
women and men for equal work. It is also important for employers
to ensure the same equality is practiced during the hiring process
as well as with career progression in terms of opportunities
offered and promotions.
Resistance to change
In most companies it is common to find certain individuals that
are resistant to change. "This is the way we've always done it"
doesn't mean that it's the right way to do it now; however
sometimes it can be difficult to convince these individuals that
change can be a good thing which can inhibit the progress of a
diversity and inclusion strategy.
In teams where there is a wide age range, especially if the
company is recruiting graduates, there many be some generational
differences or generation gaps. This could potentially hinder
discussions on certain subjects; millennials account for the
majority of UK workers, which is evolving today’s corporate
culture. This is something to consider when you start your
graduate recruitment plans, as individuals from other generations
might struggle to adjust to any changes that occur. To bridge the
gap between generations, promote an office culture where all views
are heard and sustain a collaborative environment.
Conflicts can arise in the workplace due to differences in
religious, political or cultural beliefs, and unfortunately
discrimination and prejudice still occurs in some corporate
The workplace can be tough for employees with a physical or mental
disability. In a recent study on disability and employment 12% of
employers are concerned that disabled employees will take more
time off work and 19% believe that it is expensive to hire
individuals with a disability due to costs involved in adapting
the workplace. With many offices not fully equipped with
wheelchair access or no allowances for dogs, disabled individuals
are still widely discriminated against today.
Sometimes employees can feel left out or isolated when groups of
other individuals with similar backgrounds and characteristics,
form 'cliques' or social circles.
Time consuming implementation process
When thinking about the disadvantages of diversity in the
workplace, one of the key issues is that implementing a diversity
in the workplace policy can be a lengthy process involving
research, time and resources. It can also work out quite costly,
if you decide to offer training to help bridge skills gaps for
example. This can make it difficult, particularly for small
businesses and startups to launch a diversity strategy. However,
there are always smaller, less costly positive changes that can be
made to ensure all employees feel included and have a voice.
How to promote diversity in the workplace?
We have established there are some workplace diversity challenges
employers face, but they are not impossible for companies of any
size to overcome. Now we explore some potential solutions to these
diversity challenges in the workplace:
Identify the problems
Make the challenges of diversity an urgent topic of
conversation; whether they are discussed in a weekly senior
management meeting or shared amongst the whole team for
feedback. Frequently assess and evaluate your diversity
processes and make improvements accordingly.
D&I strategy for success
Develop a clear D&I strategy. We recommend you seek advice and
feedback from a diverse range of people in the business when it
comes to your diversity and inclusion in the workplace strategy,
individuals from different departments are likely to have
Involve the whole team
When launching your diversity and inclusion strategy, it is a
good idea to get input elsewhere across the business wherever
possible. You could consider starting a diversity and inclusion
team internally to ensure you are meeting the standards, aims
and objectives you've set out. It might also be a good idea to
do a regular 'desk swap' whereby you move individuals around,
helping to prevent 'cliques' from being formed.
Initiate mentoring schemes
Initiating a mentoring scheme can help to increase employee
satisfaction and retain top talent and is one of the least
costly diversity strategies that can be implemented to ensure
all employees feel included and have a voice.
Offer training programmes
Offer a clear, professional development structure to all
employees. Bridge the digital skills gap between generations by
offering computer learning training or offer language training
for employees that are non-native English speakers. It might
also be a good idea to offer diversity training to certain team
members, particularly within management or the HR department,
helping to ensure they show compassion to colleagues in
Hire bilingual or multilingual employeess
Employing multilingual or bilingual staff can also help bridge
the gap between different cultures and resolve any language
barriers between English and non-English speaking employees.
Implement initiatives for gender equality
Businesses have a duty to demonstrate equality in the workplace
and prevent gender discrimination, particularly with regards to
hiring both men and women, paying equal salary and offering the
same opportunities and promotions to both men and women.
Encouraging more women to work in tech is another prime example
of encouraging gender equality in all job roles.
Support physically or mentally disabled individuals by providing
disabled access, allowing service dogs at work and offering
other initiatives to build a diverse workplace. Find out other
ways to manage mental health in the workplace.
Hold people accountable
It is important to hold people accountable if they are not
embracing workplace diversity and inclusion or if they are
discriminating against employees who have different
characteristics or different ethnic or religious backgrounds to
their own. Put rules in place and stick to them, if there are
individuals who do not accept a diverse office environment, then
prove that you will not tolerate this behaviour. Employees may
need to be regularly reminded to keep personal beliefs and
opinions separate to work, to help reduce the risk of disputes
in the office.
Factor in costs and time restraints
Ensure that you factor in all potential costs and time
restraints during the initial planning stages of your diversity
and inclusion strategy. This will ensure that all your plans go
ahead smoothly and prevent any costly, unwelcome surprises
further down the line.