Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

As many as 78% of employees say they work in places that lack diversity in leadership positions, and 67% consider workplace diversity to be important when deciding on employment opportunities

With the insurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is crucial to highlight racial disparities inherent in many institutional practices and actively work towards anti-racism. One way to do this is to take steps to ensure a more diverse and inclusive workplace is possible.

What Is Diversity in the Workplace?

Diversity means that your employees come from a variety of different backgrounds, and that their demographics will vary. This demographic data includes:

  • Age
  • Disability status
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Family status
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Socioeconomics status

What is inclusion?

Inclusion refers to the degree to which your employees have access to the same resources and opportunities as well as are treated fairly and equally. You may have a very demographically diverse workplace, but your employees might not necessarily feel welcomed, included, safe, accepted, or valued. 

While diversity is about differences between employees, inclusion is about how these differences interact to foster a welcoming environment for everyone.

Why Is Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Important? 

Organizations were shaped by seven main trends in 2019, including recruiting millennials, providing employees with  flexible hours, and having a diverse workplace. Having a variety of different perspectives also leads to other benefits such as:

  • Increased creativity
  • Higher innovation
  • Better decision-making
  • Increased profits
  • Higher employee engagement
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Better company reputation
  • Wider talent pool
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased creativity

Interested in learning more best practices for workplace diversity and inclusion?

How Can I Foster Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?

Collect data

Collecting data can help with a preliminary needs assessment. 

Here are some areas of interest to look at:

  • Which employees are paid more and which are paid less, and why? 
  • What are some differences in promotion time averages for specific demographics?
  • What do your workplace demographics look like? 

One way to collect data is to survey employees. Ask them for their perceptions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and anonymize the data collection.

Another thing to ask employees is the degree to which they feel included in the workplace. Ask if they feel like they can voice their opinions without being judged or being faced with negative consequences. 

This data can help you determine areas for improvement, which can lead to definable, measurable goals. You can set some data-driven key performance indicators (KPIs) and use this to take action.

Have a plan

Before doing anything, plan ahead. This doesn’t just mean do research–you should be thinking about how to tailor your plan to your specific workplace, industry, location, and so on. This may make your plan more effective.

Here are some questions to help you with your diversity and inclusion plan:

  • Who (consider demographics above) works at your company now? And who do you want to work at your company?
  • What methods will address the needs or pressing issues that are specific to your workplace?
  • What are some resources you can use to help you? (Consultants, workshop facilitators, books, podcasts, and more)
  • Which parts of your plan directly addresses the goals you have regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Implement in recruitment

Recruitment practices can foster increased diversity in the workplace. If one of your goals was to hire more people of colour, start by taking a look at your recruitment strategies. This can mean implementing a more unbiased screening and selection process, which will improve systemic barriers for people who are often discriminated against.

Here are some ideas for how you can improve your recruitment strategies:

  • Post gender neutral job descriptions
  • Emphasize your company is an equal opportunity employer
  • Instate a blind resume review system, so only skills are looked at instead of names
  • Ensure a diverse interview panel
  • Train interviewers regarding biases and what can or cannot be asked

Implement inclusive policies that reflect company values

Your policies should reflect company values, which should include diversity and inclusion. Perhaps some of your company values include having a welcoming, multilingual, and multigenerational workplace. 

Are your current policies inclusive? Doing a review of what could be improved in company policies is a step towards a more inclusive workplace.

After a policy update, it is crucial to ensure that details are clearly and properly communicated to make sure employees understand and comply with them. 

Celebrate different holidays

Celebrating different holidays in the workplace can foster inclusivity and openness among employees. Instead of just having Christmas, consider also celebrating Chinese New Year or Diwali. 

If you are unsure where to start, just ask! Listen with an open, non-judgmental mind to show that you are willing to learn and work towards a more inclusive workplace.

Normalize one-on-one meetings

One way to pinpoint areas for improvement is to hold one-on-one meetings with employees. Emphasize that you are open to discussions about ways to foster workplace diversity and inclusivity. 

Not only can your employees offer valuable insights, you can also help make them feel more valued in the workplace. Listening to their concerns can help foster a welcoming and inclusive environment that will help with employee retention.

Allow flexibility

A flexible work schedule is one way to help increase employee retention. Not only that, but it also helps make the workplace more inclusive for everyone.

For example, if an employee had severe period cramps and would prefer to work from home, allowing this flexibility would make their lives a lot easier and ensure that they are not being negatively impacted by having to come in to work. If another employee would like some time off during a non-statutory holiday to celebrate an important cultural holiday, granting this would help with not only workplace diversity, but also workplace inclusion.

As a plus, being flexible will also make your employees feel valued as individuals. If they know that you are understanding and open, they will also be more likely to talk about any concerns or areas for improvement.

Foster dialogue and open conversations

Microaggressions are statements, actions, or incidents that subtly discriminate against a specific and marginalized group. While they may be unintentional, they can still have harmful consequences.

An example of a microaggression would be asking a Black employee where they are really from. One way to acknowledge a microaggression properly would be to listen to the party that has been harmed, acknowledging their feelings as valid, apologizing, and learning from the mistake.

Fostering ongoing dialogue and open conversations about these subjects can normalize conversations about things like race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and so on. This provides employees with opportunities to learn and improve, leading to a more inclusive workplace for everyone.

Need expert advice from HR professionals? We’re in this together.

Host regular diversity workshops

Hosting regular workshops for the entire team can be a way to prevent discrimination in the workplace. Instead of a reactionary measure to deal with the aftermath of an incident, this preventative measure will continuously help foster inclusion in the workplace.

Some workshop topics can include anti-racism, anti-sexism, or accessibility in the workplace. 

Offer incentives to learn from others

In addition to workshops, another hands-on and engaging way to foster workplace inclusion is to offer incentives for learning opportunities. For example, employees could volunteer at a soup kitchen together, which will expose them to multiple perspectives from demographics other than their own. This not only leads to greater well-being in employees, but it also helps the community at large which can improve your company’s reputation.

Conduct exit interviews

Exit interviews can help you pinpoint areas for improvement. Talking to employees who are leaving your organization or company can provide insight on how to improve inclusion in the workplace. Enter the interview with an open mind ready to learn–the conversations that occur in exit interviews can be further analyzed and perhaps written into policy to improve the workplace.

Consult experts

If you’re unsure what to do in a situation or how to improve diversity and inclusion, consult an expert. It is important to do this regularly since workplace dynamics may change over time.

Consider also forming a diversity and inclusion committee. Tasks can be delegated to this committee, who can work towards an improved workplace.

Review and adjust

Working towards workplace diversity and inclusion is an ongoing process. You are never quite done–it’s important to review which initiatives or policies worked, and which ones did not. Making necessary adjustments after reviewing can ensure your company continually improves.

Let us help

In addition to advising best practices for workplace diversity and inclusion, Imagine Better Solutions also helps with recruitment, governance, and retention planning. As a company that strives to be a one-one-stop shop for ease of management, we have all of your HR needs covered. 

Feel free to contact us for more information at