More companies than ever are realizing that a diverse working environment is beneficial for society and for the business itself. Just imagine that 2020 saw a 64% increase in the hiring of workplace diversity experts. In particular, we have spotted for you 7 actions to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Why Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Pay Off
Until a few years ago, diversity in the workplace typically referred only to gender and race. However, nowadays, it covers much more life experiences and includes gender, race, ethnicity, diverse religious and political beliefs, education, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation, cultures, and disabilities.
Diversity and inclusion contribute to creating a great work culture in which people can be represented. Moreover, it gives plenty of opportunities for innovation. After all, what is innovation if not approaching problems from new perspectives?
Data support the business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Research published in the Harvard Business Review shows that companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues.
Furthermore, some of the most innovative cities in the world, like Dubai, Barcelona, New York, London, and Singapur, prove that a melting pot of cultural backgrounds is the underlying factor behind innovation. Research shows that high-skilled immigration is directly correlated to better economic performance and increasing levels of innovation in cities.
7 Actions to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
In the last years, several leading companies have developed programs to foster a company culture that reflects our plural society. 7 companies, in particular, have set up programs so innovative that we can only say: BRAVO!
Slack has diversity and inclusion as the core values of the company. They have a vast array of programs focusing on finding talents irrespective of their characteristics.
In the last year, the company has started several partnerships with leading organizations like Zoom and Dropbox to launch the apprenticeship program “The Next Chapter”. The program trains formerly incarcerated individuals to become highly skilled engineers.
Another innovative project is “Rising Tides”, which focuses on creating a supportive community for high performers and emerging leaders at Slack who have historically lacked access to this support. The people selected will have the opportunity to receive career development training and executive coaching for six months.
Every year, the career website Comparably publishes its annual ranking of the best companies for diversity according to employees. In 2020, Microsoft ranked first for diversity, and we understand why.
Microsoft takes diversity very seriously. In 2020 the company launched Microsoft’s 2020 Diversity & Inclusion report in which they explained how they are addressing problems as inequalities during the pandemic and racial injustice. On the one hand, they instituted the caregiver leave program to gave all employees flexible time off to help manage remote learning transitions and balance care for loved ones.
On the other hand, Microsoft has increased career opportunities for minorities within the company, and provides training programmes. In particular, it is expanding internal programs for mid-level and director-level employees, and with the program Allyship in Microsoft, they are training employees to understand how they can adopt a culture of inclusion in the workplace.
Accenture has committed to achieving inclusion to foster innovation. In particular, it focuses on five pillars: achieving gender equality, including people with disabilities, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, fostering ethnic and racial diversity in the workplace, prioritizing mental health and wellness.
Accenture puts a lot of effort into ensuring each pillar can make a real impact. For example, it supports the LGBTQ+ community by visibilizing the economic benefits of inclusion in the workplace. Furthermore, it shows the unique challenges LGBTQ+ people face during their careers.
Getting to equal 2020: pride analyses the advancements made in the business world, while in other reports, they have shown the connection between LGBT+ inclusion and economic competitiveness in cities around the world. The Open For Business City Ratings 2020 shows how cities perform on inclusion and its economic benefits. For example, Barcelona ranked as an inclusive and competitive city, but it could do much better than this and achieve the global beacon status cities like Amsterdam hold.
For Citi, the multinational investment bank and financial services corporation, diversity and inclusion don’t have only one form.
They have programs to tackle issues like pay equity, cultural diversity in the workplace, LGBT+ Equality & Rights, career opportunities for everyone, and disability inclusion.
The last point is probably the one deserving more attention.
In October 2019, they launched a massive campaign to invite the business world to take action to include people with disabilities in the workforce. The campaign encompassed different activities, like empathy labs to experience digital tools used by people with disabilities.
HubSpot develops a vast array of programs to ensure everyone can feel accepted in the company. They put special emphasis on transparency. On their career page, HubSpot shows the results of their annual Diversity Report to hold themselves accountable.
Over the years, the company has distinguished itself for being a welcoming place for women. In 2019, Hubspot ranked as one of the top 10 best workplaces in the Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE annual list of the Best Workplaces for Women. The ranking is based on what women report in the Trust Index© survey about their workplace, and how fairly those experiences compare to men’s reports of the same workplaces.
One of the most appreciated programs is Women@HubSpot, which implements initiatives that empower women in tech and support women’s professional development through training, workshops, networking events, and discussions with female leaders.
As with other companies listed in “7 actions to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace”, WeWork is deeply committed to foster a workplace in which everyone has an opportunity to shine. They have different Employee Community Groups to support and encourage representations of diverse life experiences.
Furthermore, they have demonstrated that fostering diversity and inclusion in the business world pays off. In 2017, WeWork started a collaboration with the International Rescue Committee to employ refugees resettled in the USA.
The initiative was a total success for the company. The retention rate was more than 80 percent — much higher than the overall retention rate for employees in similar jobs. Therefore, they decided it was time to invest more in hiring people displaced by war. From this experience, the WeWork Refugee Initiative was born, a commitment made in 2018 to hire 1,500 refugees over the next five years.
Rihanna x Fenty
The fashion industry has always been at the forefront of inclusion. Despite this, it has often lacked diversity, and Rihanna is making an enormous step in that direction. She first gained attention for her make-up line Fenty Beauty which was the first to provide 40 different shades of foundation (now expanded to 50), adapt to all skin types.
In 2020, she went a step further with Savage x Fenty, the fashion show that premiered on Amazon Prime, in which she cast models of every gender, skin color, and body shape. The fashion show was an enormous success and was highly praised by the critic for its capacity to highlight and normalize diversity. By giving a platform to different types of models she is promoting diversity in the fashion industry.
Going Through a More Diverse Workplace
Diversity and inclusion represent an incredible benefit from an ethical and economic point of view.
Businesses thrive when they have a diverse workforce because diverse life-experiences led to more innovation. Here we have shown you 7 actions to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. However, many more companies are increasingly understanding the benefit of hiring people from all walks of life. Through the development of specific programs, organizations can hire and retain the best talent in the world.
Diversity and inclusion are at the core of how we do business at BEBS Barcelona Executive Business School. We include extra sessions on the topic in all our Master’s and Postgraduate programs. For example, this year we are teaching multicultural management.
In our professional experience, a more inclusive workplace is the first step to create a happier workplace. One in which we can feel valued and motivated.
You can read more in 3 Secrets to Foster Happiness in the Workplace.