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Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the Workplace: Benefits and Roadblocks

June 6, 2019


Workplace diversity has been gaining momentum as a vital initiative that leads to increased productivity, higher business reputation, and enhanced financial performance. Recently, numerous organizations have started to make clear strides towards nurturing a more diverse workforce to achieve their strategic business goals or promote social justice. In spite of their considerable efforts, however, the progress has been slow-paced.

Many companies are already hiring talent regardless of differences in race, age, gender, political beliefs, or ethnic backgrounds, but most of them have yet to reap the benefits of these perspectives. This disconnect isn’t coming from inadequate diversity initiatives, as some might think; it’s just the result of an incomplete activity. On its own, diversity is not likely to enrich business growth or fuel a corporate social responsibility program. For example, a company just hired its first disabled worker; but if that employee feels unwelcome, earning a spot in this very workplace will not do this person—or that business—any favors. What’s missing from this picture, then?

An inclusive working environment—where all viewpoints are valued, treated equitably, and invited to be a part of a company’s journey—and a genuine sense of belonging—in other words, a culture of trust that allows employees to bring their authentic selves at work without the fear of being judged—make all the difference in the organization that plans to increase the depth of its diverse talent pool.

Before you take full advantage of the diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIBs) trifecta, let’s go over the key benefits and bottlenecks that might spring up along the way first.

Support the Future of Work Through Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

When you make DIBs a central component of your organizational strategy, you do much more than simply check off a box. This initiative has been tied to various tangible, real, and direct business outcomes:

1. Every enterprise needs a differentiator to survive in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. Embracing DIBs as a core value will help you build stronger, long-term, and strategic communities. When people are able to express broader aspects of their self-identity in a diverse environment and the psychological threat to being deprived of a sense of belonging is removed, their stress levels are also significantly minimized. This way, you’ll be armed with the right tool to outperform your competitors: a connected diverse workforce ready to drive performance and meet any potential business chokepoint with greater confidence.

2. DIBs promotes employee loyalty, motivation, and resilience. If an organization is open towards accepting, valuing, and recognizing diverse perspectives, workers are also more likely to commit to the company and engage to make a bigger business impact—as a group. Consequently, they are empowered to perform at their best, think creatively, improve their emotional well-being, and solve a complex problem faster. All these positive work behaviors automatically translate into reduced staff turnover.

3. A mix of ages, genders, expertise, and cultural insights in the workplace is a gateway to innovation—DIBs is a surefire way to advance this goal. Belonging needs to triumph over ideas in a very direct sense: when you take a risk because you’re confident that someone has your back, you’ll feel more encouraged to develop new original business plans in the future. Therefore, the spirit of innovation is being continuously amplified.

4. In an uncertain economy, business leaders have to look for efficient ways to cut costs and increase profits. As business professionals take a stand on DIBs and start crafting trusting environments where everyone finds success, they also propel their enterprise forward and maximize their earnings. The indicators of financial health are multiple, including market value, sales growth, and investment performance. At the same time, a strong positive culture is powerful enough to help you earn up to 1.2–1.7% more than peer firms.

5. Give everyone a seat at the table and you’ll enhance decision-making. Competitive companies know that incorporating diverse perspectives into their daily operations is no longer optional. New research reveals that:

⇨ Highly diverse teams are twice as likely to make better choices and meet or exceed expectations—up to 87% of the time

⇨ Inclusive business teams drive decision-making twice as fast with half the meetings

A business decision has a long-term impact on your organization and is 95% correlated with financial performance.

The Opportunity Is ThereStill, Organizations Struggle to Put DIBs into Action

In what follows, you’ll discover just a few of the most common barriers to a rewarding DIBs strategy:

1. Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are independent concepts. However, as you design a DIBs strategy, it’s important to remember that these three notions are interconnected and should go hand-in-hand. When they are separated, it’s difficult to achieve your desired results.

2. Enterprises don’t effectively align DIBs initiatives with their organizational goals. In order to successfully close the DIBs gap, these efforts should be carefully planned, nurtured, and measured—or else, such activities will inevitably come second to other daily business operations.

3. The human brain has a tendency to create shortcuts, develop connections, and group things together for easy access; as a result, everyone has unconscious biases. Even when business leaders are visibly trying to avoid this type of behavior, unconscious bias plays into as much as 40% of their decisions.

Change Starts From Within…

Break through the roadblocks, promote a thoughtfully planned DIBs strategy, and cultivate a thriving workforce.