Diversity means embracing and valuing differences in various people’s backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. Doing so creates an inclusive environment where everyone feels respected and valued.
What is diversity? Meaning and explanation
According to Dictionary.com, diversity can be defined as the inclusion of people who represent more than one national origin, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
In simple terms, it refers to the variety of people and their backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
The meaning of it is often discussed, for instance, in the context of workplace environments, where it is a critical factor in promoting creativity, productivity, and innovation. By embracing workplace diversity, companies can tap into their employees’ full range of skills and talents, creating a more inclusive workplace.
However, it is important to note that it is not limited to the workplace, as it is also a vital aspect of our daily lives.
It is a positive aspect of any community or organization, as it helps promote understanding and tolerance, leading to a more open and inclusive society.
The impact of D&I in society
Other than promoting understanding and tolerance, it can also have a significant impact on creating a more equitable society.
Here are a few examples of that:
- Social cohesion: When people from different backgrounds interact and work together, it can create greater social cohesion and a sense of community. In turn, this helps reduce prejudice and discrimination (e.g., ageism, ableism, etc.).
- Creativity: When people with different experiences and perspectives come together, they can bring fresh ideas and insights to the table, leading to innovations and solutions to societal problems.
- Cultural enrichment: Diversity can lead to a greater appreciation and understanding of different cultures, customs, and traditions. Besides enriching our lives and promoting a more dynamic society, this can lead to less stereotyping.
- Representation in positions of power: Having a varied representation in positions of power and influence means it is easier to ensure that the voices of all individuals are heard. In turn, policies can be designed to address the entire society, not just a select few who hold privilege.
Different forms of diversity
There are different forms of diversity, and each can be important in its own way. Broadly speaking, there are four types of it: internal, external, organizational, and worldview.
Learn more about each one below.
Internal diversity refers to individual differences that a person is born with, such as age, gender, nationality, and sexual orientation. This type of diversity encompasses traits that individuals are born with or acquire as they grow up.
For instance, companies that value internal diversity recognize that each employee brings a unique set of skills, perspectives, and experiences to the workplace, enhancing the overall performance and productivity of the organization.
External diversity refers to any attribute, experience or circumstance that helps shape individuals’ beliefs and values – so, unlike internal diversity, it’s not factors that individuals are born with.
This includes socioeconomic status, education, career path, marital status, religion, personal interests, and hobbies.
If a company values external diversity, they are often better equipped to meet the needs of their diverse customer base – and that often leads to increased customer loyalty and improved business performance.
Worldview diversity refers to differences in how individuals perceive the world around them, including their beliefs, values, and attitudes. In other words, anything that influences how we interpret and view the world is a part of worldwide diversity, as this type of diversity encompasses factors such as religion, political views, and culture.
In the case of the latter, it is often referred to as ethnic diversity. Ethnic diversity is more specific and relates to differences in ethnicity or cultural heritage, including language, customs, and traditions.
For example, if a company values worldview diversity, it recognizes that employees with differing perspectives and values can bring fresh insight to business challenges. This helps promote a more inclusive workplace culture where employees feel valued and respected for their unique viewpoints.
Organizational diversity refers to the degree to which a company’s workforce represents different groups. This is based on age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability status.
If a company prioritizes organizational diversity, it can create a more inclusive workplace culture and foster a sense of belonging among all employees.
Additionally, organizational diversity can help organizations recruit and retain top talent, improve employee engagement and job satisfaction, and increase innovation and creativity.
D&I in business
Diversity in business is the practice of promoting D&I within an organization for business success. This includes a range of practices and initiatives such as the following:
- Hiring diverse candidates
- Promoting D&I training
- Establishing employee resource groups
- Partnering with diverse suppliers
When companies prioritize it in business, they can be better equipped to meet the needs of their diverse customer base and build stronger teams.
Organizational assessment of D&I
To evaluate their current level of D&I, companies use organizational assessment to identify areas for improvement and develop a strategy for promoting D&I in the workplace.
This process is called organizational assessment of diversity, which involves reviewing hiring practices, evaluating employee demographics, assessing company policies and procedures, and conducting employee surveys.
The result of the diversity assessment can help companies identify and address barriers to diversity, with the aim to create a more inclusive workplace culture.
Metrics for diversity assessment
A great way for companies to properly track and assess their progress in promoting D&I is to use D&I metrics.
Metrics can include the following:
- Employee demographics
- Turnover rates
- Retention rates
Such metrics can help companies identify areas for improvement and track the effectiveness of their D&I initiatives over time.
Additionally, employer satisfaction surveys, the representation of diverse candidates in hiring pools, and the effectiveness of diversity training programs are also factors that can be included in diversity assessment.
By regularly tracking and assessing D&I metrics, companies can identify areas for improvement and take action.