Ideas of what qualifies as acceptable levels of diversity, inclusion, and accommodations in the workplace have come a long way over the past 100 years. Though we have made profound strides as a society, there is no doubt that there is still much to be done.
Even today, significant issues are preventing complete equality in most workplaces.
Numerous businesses still struggle with developing diverse and inclusive spaces that encourage differing backgrounds to share and feel comfortable.
Business owners have a lot to gain by making strides in improving diversity in the workplace, and many are willing to listen to concrete ways to make lasting changes.
Fortunately, as an employee or manager, there is a lot that can be done to start to change this in your place of employment.
Becoming an advocate and sharing knowledge will lead to positive workplace improvements over time.
Benefits of Diversity
The benefits of diversity can be somewhat subtle and difficult to see, but plenty of research indicates that they are there and apparent for those who look. As early as elementary school, diversity plays a role in helping students feel as though they fit in and are understood by their peers and teachers.
A lack of diversity in school systems has been linked to lower student achievement and greater social struggles in the future.
In the workplace, greater diversity has frequently been linked to a more productive working environment.
Multitudes of studies have pointed to the idea that a higher number of people of different ages, races, genders, and backgrounds will contribute a variety of different suggestions and project ideas.
As these people collaborate and work on projects, these viewpoints will meld together to create some of the best strategies to solve workplace problems and become highly successful.
Ultimately, this diverse, collaborative effort can really give companies an edge over each other.
In the long run, diverse workplaces can also greatly help our society in general. Collaborative approaches and new ideas can solve all sorts of global problems. Likewise, it can help achieve a more equitable world where every person truly can make their dreams come true.
All in all, diversity has far more benefits than many of us think about.
Becoming an Advocate
Being the person who advocates for greater workplace diversity can certainly seem like a daunting task in this day and age.
But it can also start simply, with a few small steps that work to get others thinking about it.
Starting by sharing knowledge with workplace peers about diversity facts and statistics can help build a movement that everyone will willingly get behind and support.
These facts and bits of knowledge are great if they are related to the type of work you are doing, but they can also come from other industries.
For example, the beauty industry is known for having a body image problem that has leached out and impacted numerous young women and girls across the country. However, the industry has taken steps to address this; more and more often, models are of all shapes and sizes, and many are extremely body positive.
Another great step in calling attention to the need for greater workplace diversity and inclusion is to examine the potential for issues in your workplace. Begin by asking how these things could be improved in your job. Are there employees or customers who are likely to feel marginalized by the way the company does business? Are there employees who may be left behind because they are of a different generation, race, or somehow demographically different from most other employees?
Making it Happen in Any Workplace
As you start to impact your workplace, you may quickly realize some tools work to help spread your message. Collaborative knowledge-sharing platforms can work to spread your ideas of the importance of diversity.
This is especially true in today’s world, where many people are trying to connect and work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These internal communication platforms can also do a great deal to level the playing field for those who are collaborating. From a platform such as this, the vast majority of employees who may have been excluded because of difficulties with accommodations can interact equally in ways they may not have been able to before.
Of course, for those with technical difficulties, the same benefits may actually be hindrances; it is important to recognize and take steps to address this phenomenon.
Making some of these adaptations in the workplace will take a bit of time and certainly won’t happen overnight. Many employees and supervisors will have unconscious biases or fail to see an actual problem with the status quo.
Getting feedback and working through bottlenecks will be a critical part of long-term success with your peers.
Eventually, the goal will be to have a lasting impact on company policies that increase diversity in the workplace and that most employees think are worthwhile to have in place.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are powerful and just causes to advocate for. There are numerous benefits for everyone involved, even if some people don’t initially see them for what they are.
Advocating for a diverse workplace and making real changes will take time. Still, things such as educating peers with facts and statistics, capitalizing on social collaboration platforms, and eventually spearheading company policy shifts are just the places to start.