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Workplace Diversity and Inclusion 


Employee Management

Workplace Diversity and Inclusion 

One of HR managers' most important jobs is promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. HR managers must encourage respect for every employee's unique beliefs, needs, opinions, potential, and perspective.

August 15, 2022
min read
August 15, 2022
8 min read
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Workplace Diversity and Inclusion 

One of HR managers' most important jobs is promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They're responsible for hiring a team of diverse employees. HR managers must encourage respect for every employee's unique beliefs, needs, opinions, potential, and perspective.

When most people hear about diversity and inclusion today, they only think about race and gender. However, diversity and inclusion encompass more group differences that every employer and HR management should know.

As an employer, you must broaden your view of diversity and inclusion to access the talent and value of employees who have been overlooked and stigmatized. It is the smart and right thing to do for your business. 

Here is what you need to know about workplace diversity and inclusion. 

What Is the Meaning of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?

Diversity and inclusion are terms used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Diversity refers to understanding, accepting, and recognizing the different characteristics, qualities, and experiences that differentiate one employee from another. 

These characteristics include race, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical ability and disability, ethnicity, marital status, citizenship status, cultural background, religion, language, income and education. They help people in society evolve, connect and learn from one another. 

On the other hand, inclusion is all the policies, programs, and procedures a company puts in place to ensure that every employee's unique characteristics, qualities, and experiences are accepted and valued. An inclusive culture starts from management to the subordinate staff. 

Employers are responsible for ensuring that every employee in the company feels appreciated and comfortable sharing their opinions. Formulating the right policies to promote inclusion in the workplace will help eradicate discrimination and foster a happier working environment. 

Pillars of Inclusion 

The following are the main elements that build inclusive workplaces that reflect the society we live in:

  • Access
  • Attitude 
  • Choice 
  • Partnerships 
  • Policies 
  • Communication 
  • Opportunities 

Elements of Diversity in the Workplace 

Diversity in the workplace improves a company's operations by bringing different perspectives and opinions together to make sound decisions. A company keen on promoting diversity and inclusion is more likely to succeed. The following are some of the elements of diversity in the workplace:

1. Age diversity 

Age diversity involves recruiting employees of different ages in different production areas. A workplace comprising experienced, middle-aged, and young staff is likely to do well since each has unique perspectives and qualities. 

2. Racial diversity 

Racial diversity involves recruiting people of different races. Racial diversity is undoubtedly the quickest way for outsiders and new hires to determine whether it is a diverse company. 

3. Gender diversity 

It's important to promote diversity of gender identities in the workplace where all genders, including male, female, and non-binary, feel respected. 

4. Diversity of abilities 

People with disabilities have difficulty finding jobs. Therefore, company should prioritize diversity of abilities during the hiring process. This makes the workplace more accessible to people with different abilities and disabilities. 

5. Sexual orientation  

It involves welcoming people with different sexual orientations to the workplace, including heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, anthrosexual, demi sexual, auto sexual, etc. 

Examples of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace 

1. Employee resource groups 

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are by employees for employees. They are a great way to connect different perspectives, ideas, opinions, and experiences. Even though company management may advocate for these groups, they are never part of them.

ERGs form around common social identities such as race, sex, gender, marital status, etc. Employees use these groups to build connections with their colleagues and advance in their respective career paths. 

2. Diversity calendar 

A good way to show workers that as an employer you champion diversity and inclusion is by recognizing different cultural events, holidays, and celebrations in a calendar. Employers can give employees paid day-offs during these holidays or celebrate in the office. Acknowledging these holidays will make employees feel respected and appreciated in the workspace. 

3. Hiring for diversity  

To foster diversity and inclusion, start from the beginning. Highlight diversity in job adverts to appeal to people with different personal, physical and social characteristics. When recruiting new team members, reach different underrepresented groups with the necessary qualifications.  

Diverse hiring also involves blind screening applications to alleviate unconscious biases. Remove any information that may provoke unconscious bias, such as name, photos, gender, age, religion, and social-economic background. 

This method will help employers hire the best candidates and is an excellent step toward creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. Most online recruitment firms have a diversity and inclusion policy in their hiring processes.

4. Inclusive language 

Using inclusive language in the workplace can create a progressive company culture. Employers should create an inclusive and mandatory language guide. They can also discuss offensive phrases and negative words that may threaten workplace diversity and inclusion. 

Barriers to Inclusion in the Workplace 

Many employers still operate with an exclusivity mindset without knowing it. This mindset hinders workplace inclusion and makes it difficult for employees to develop a sense of belonging. The following are the main barriers to inclusion in the workplace:

  • Lack of relatable role models in most senior management positions. 
  • Lack of proper training on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 
  • Inconsistent response to mistakes in the workspace. 
  • Lack of adequate support from the company's leadership and management. 
  • Lack of awareness regarding inclusion and the profits it brings to the workplace. 
  • Workplace bullying includes abusive emails, character assassination, and yelling.
  • Selective mentoring due to the differences between senior and junior colleagues 

Ways to Include People with Disabilities in the Workplace 

Most societal systems that exist are ideally created for people without disabilities. For instance, most companies assume that all employees can use the stairs, listen to instructions and even see clearly.

People living with disabilities should feel valued and well-represented in the workplace too. 

The following are the various ways to include people with disabilities in the workplace:

  • Conduct regular workplace safety audits and make adjustments to areas that are not disability-friendly 
  • Purchase furniture and hardware that accommodates people with disabilities
  • Offer soft skills training to people with disabilities to help them succeed at their job 
  • Use blind hiring techniques to avoid unconscious bias against people with disabilities 
  • Train the rest of the team on interactions and collaboration with people with disabilities in the workplace  

Diversity and inclusion policies allow all employees to feel accepted. They feel valued in the workplace regardless of their physical characteristics and employee experiences. This helps improve employee satisfaction and performance. So, promoting diversity and inclusion is good for employee retention and attracting top, diverse talent. 

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Workpay is a HR and Payroll software company that offers time & attendance, payroll, human resource, leave, expenses and remote teams solutions to businesses across Africa.

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