Forward-thinking organizations committed to positive change are taking action-oriented steps toward better diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Over the last few years, increased awareness of individuals from marginalized backgrounds facing social exclusions has catapulted equity issues to the forefront of workplace conversations. In fact, many businesses have worked hard to identify diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals and better support workplace belonging. But are companies doing enough?
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Modern businesses are looking to broaden their definition of diversity and provide support to many different types and groups of workers. In addition to the focus on racial, gender, and LGBTQ equity, organizations are also supporting workplace belonging for varied age groups, neurodiverse individuals, workers with disabilities, caregivers, and different religious backgrounds. While not all forms of diversity are legally protected, it’s still important to create empowerment in different areas to build a truly transformative culture.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of supporting many types of diversity and equity in the workplace and why employees are demanding their employers make a strong commitment to DEI. We’ll also explore the various types of diversity that HR leaders should think about when designing employee experience and building company culture.
Employees are Highly Invested in Diversity
According to a recent Glassdoor Diversity hiring survey, “76% of job seekers and employees reported that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.” Additionally, nearly a third of employees and job seekers would not apply to a job at a company that does not have a diverse workforce.
More Reasons Employers Should Increase DEI Efforts
A study named “Why Diversity Matters” by McKinsey showed a strong correlation between diversity and financial performance: 1) Companies with greater ethnic and racial diversity performed 35% better than those companies with staff demographics matching the national average and 2) Companies with greater gender diversity performed 15% better than those less diverse. In McKinsey’s follow-up study three years later, findings revealed that gender diversity was even more relevant to performance (about 21% better) and ethnically and racially diverse companies had 43% higher profits compared to 35% in the previous study.
While these McKinsey studies did not examine other types of diversity, Gallup data revealed that there are benefits for organizations that “ensure all workers feel psychologically safe at work: there was a 27% reduction in turnover, 40% reduction in safety incidents, and 12% increase in productivity.”
There are several articles and studies that explore the power of workplace belonging. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines belonging as “the feeling of security and support” when there is a culture of acceptance, respect, and inclusion. In other words, the workplace must be diverse and inclusive for workers to feel like they belong.
Going Further with Diversity and Inclusion
As workers continue to struggle to find balance between “working to live and living to work,” businesses should focus their efforts on making the workplace a desired destination for all. The primary focus and objective of most DEI programs has been around race, gender, and sexual identity thus far. Let’s explore several additional types of diversity starting to gain attention that provide employers the opportunity to pursue even greater workforce diversity:
In this tight labor market, many employers are thinking about how to create a more inclusive environment for employees of all ages—particularly older workers. According to the CDC, 56% of Americans get pushed out of employment after the age of 50, and only 1 in 10 ever regains their former salary. Although age discrimination against employees over age 40 is illegal, about 1 in 5 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints involve age discrimination.
Older employees can offer vast experience, knowledge and bring a generational perspective that can be invaluable in sales, marketing, and customer relations. According to a study by AARP, “Sixty-five percent of employees aged 55 and up are ‘engaged’, compared to 58 to 60 percent of younger employees. They also offer employers lower turnover rates and greater levels of experience.” To create a more inclusive workplace for older workers, consider offering more training to update technology skillsets when needed. Additionally, some older workers might prefer a part-time job to a full-time position, if your organization is able to offer that flexibility.
The number of workers who are responsible for “triple-decker” care (individuals responsible for the caring of elderly relatives while also supporting children and/or grandchildren) has been on the rise in recent years. Add that to the feelings of stress and burnout that already exist as a result of the pandemic. That’s why it’s more important than ever for employers to identify those in the workforce who have these caring responsibilities and provide support.
According to law firm Husch Blackwell, “While the term ‘caregiver’ is not identified as a protected class under federal equal employment opportunity laws, workplace decisions that adversely impact job applicants and employees who are also caregivers can still lead to claims of discrimination.” In March 2022, the EEOC released new guidance that recognizes the challenges faced by those with caregiving responsibilities and warns employers against discrimination against caregivers.
Neurodiversity & Learning Styles
Historically, neurodivergent talent has been poorly understood. There has been a tendency to focus on the perceived challenges rather than the unique abilities and skills that neurodivergent workers can bring to a job. According to Harvard Health, neurodiversity “describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “
right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.” Dyslexia, ADHD, and autism are all examples of neurodiversity. Virgin’s Richard Branson says of his dyslexia: “I simply wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t dyslexic. In the real world, dyslexia can be a huge advantage. Many people with dyslexia have great imaginations, creativity and problem-solving skills.”
According to Bloomberg Law, some neurodiverse workers are considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act or under state and local laws and therefore may be entitled to reasonable accommodations. When hiring neurodiverse talent, it’s important to consider different ways you can help them succeed—whether it’s providing noise-cancelling headphones to minimize distractions or access to communication tools like Slack for people more comfortable interacting online.
According to the EEOC, 70% of people with severe disabilities are not employed, despite the fact that 50% of reasonable accommodations cost employers nothing at all. People with disabilities are often natural problem solvers and have strong empathy skills. They offer employers and coworkers a unique perspective and approach.
The disabled community is an incredibly diverse talent pool of untapped potential waiting for great companies to give them a chance. Employees with disabilities who are treated well in the workplace reward employers with exceptional loyalty and retention. In fact, being more inclusive of the disability community offers businesses an opportunity to gain distinct competitive advantage.
Recruiters need to update their application processes to remove any unintended bias. For example, do you routinely say people need to be able to lift 50 pounds even though in reality, employees rarely lift more than 10 or 20 pounds? Is your recruiting website coded properly to allow applicants to fill in the application form with their speech-to-text applications? Does your talent software automatically exclude people with employment gaps from consideration? If so, you could miss an exceptionally talented person who has a gap because they were injured or sick.
To better recognize diverse religious beliefs, some organizations are offering floating holidays, so they are not based solely on the Christian liturgical calendar. Additionally, they are sponsoring religious literacy training and hiring interfaith chaplains for in-office counseling. By supporting this diversity, they believe that it emboldens employees to feel more valued, develop better relationships, and ultimately be more productive.
Build and Support an Amazing Team
Growing businesses need great people. Asure can help you build connections, strengthen community, and nurture workplace belonging as well as maintain compliance. Asure provides HR consulting services to help recruit, hire, and train your diverse team and build a supportive culture of success.