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  • Writer's pictureKate Bradshaw

Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter

At Quality Health Care we are committed to providing an inclusive workplace culture where all our staff are valued and recognised for their unique qualities, ideas and perspectives.

Diversity in the workplace has long been an important topic. There is already a broad body of research showing how diversity can bring tremendous benefits to the workplace.

While Diversity and Inclusion often are used interchangeably, the difference between the two concepts is vitally important. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), studies show that teams or organisations with diverse qualities, experiences and work styles bring more ideas, perspectives and approaches to the table. On top of efforts to diversify their employee base, businesses may want to take note of the organisational success associated with the move toward inclusion.

Diversity and Inclusiveness – What’s the Difference?

A diverse workplace is one that includes people from different types of gender identity, age, language, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion / belief system, family responsibilities, education, socio-economic background, and marital status. Inclusion, however, refers to the efforts used to embrace those differences. An inclusive workplace is one that sees a diverse range of people encouraged to provide their own individual skills, knowledge and background to the organisation. In order to see significant improvements in performance and well-being, workplaces need to work on improving both their diversity and inclusiveness. A quote attributed to diversity and inclusion expert Verna Myers explains this difference rather well;

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Inclusion stretches far beyond hiring employees with different backgrounds and ethnicity. It is a mindset in which employers actively provide each member of the workforce with equal access to opportunities. Organisations can begin to transition from diversity efforts to those of inclusion, to create an environment in which all employees can thrive and contribute their best work.

Diversity Drives Innovation

In today’s fast-changing economic environment, companies that can’t innovate quickly enough to keep up will struggle to find success. Having the best and brightest minds may sound like an ideal strategy, but if all those minds think and behave the same way, they’ll quickly fall into the same predictable patterns.

Culturally diverse workforces don’t bring differences for the sake of difference; instead, they introduce new ways of thinking that can cut through conformity and group-think. Research has demonstrated that diverse teams consistently outperform more homogeneous groups in terms of problem solving. It turns out that being like others leads people to assume that they share common experiences, ideas, and opinions, which closes off entire lines of discussion.

Australia’s workforce is one of the most diverse in the world. Employees come from a wide range of cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, gender identities, ages, sexual orientations, and different family responsibilities. If you feel your organisation could improve it's focus on diversity and inclusiveness, her are six ways you can make a start;

  1. Commit to individual diversity and inclusivity policies, led and endorsed by senior managers, and designed to lead to clear measurable, transparent outcomes.

  2. Explain the business case around why workforce diversity and inclusivity make good business sense

  3. Acknowledge your employees’ intersectionality; everyone has many dimensions to who they are, and many people will identify with multiple parts of their identity.

  4. Widen your gender diversity policy from a focus on gender binary to actively recruiting people from a wide range of gender identities, opening your business up to more opportunities in terms of talent pools.

  5. Look for ways to recognise and celebrate the strengths and talents of others who are different to you.

  6. Using inclusive language; a powerful tool to neutralise discrimination in the workplace.

The Business Case for Inclusion

In the disability sector we have long known the benefits of recruiting a diverse workforce but a report by Deloitte called Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? found a direct correlation between diversity, inclusion, and business performance. The study found more diverse and inclusive workplaces saw on average an 83% improvement on their ability to innovate, a 31% improvement in the ability to respond to changing customer needs, and a 42% improvement in team collaboration.

The study also found greater diversity and inclusion has a direct outcome in higher levels of employee engagement. Inclusive workplaces provide a range of benefits, including:

  • Improved conflict resolution and problem-solving skills

  • Increased empathy and understanding of customer needs

  • A larger, more diverse talent pool from which to recruit

  • A more attractive proposition for potential candidates from more diverse backgrounds.

  • A diverse workplace that actively seeks ways to be more inclusive is likely to see their staff experiencing less discriminatory behaviour, as well as a host of other well-being and productivity benefits.

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