What Is Diversity in the Workplace? (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Diversity within a workplace has numerous benefits, including ensuring people from different backgrounds have more opportunities to excel and advance their careers. Understanding diversity in the workplace can help you explore its numerous benefits and learn how companies can implement it. In this article, we discuss what diversity in the workplace is, outline its most notable benefits, outline ways to implement it, and provide samples of diversity interview questions and what to expect in a strong answer.

What is diversity in the workplace?

Diversity in the workplace typically occurs when an employer recruits people from different backgrounds. A company with diverse staff typically comprises people of different genders, ethnicities, races, religions, sexual orientations, and academic backgrounds. A diverse workplace commonly means that everyone has an equal opportunity and support to succeed in their professional setting. Diverse work environments can also result in better ideas and increased productivity.

Related: Job Search Guide: Finding Companies That Value Diversity and Inclusion

Benefits of workplace diversity

Workplace diversity is essential and provides companies with numerous benefits, some of which are as follows:

Increased cultural sensitivity

Companies can ensure they're culturally sensitive by having people from different backgrounds work on company projects. Listening to and understanding the opinions and thoughts of the people a company intends to represent is also essential. This is because it helps them develop more empathic and authentic offerings. For example, it may be vital to have a Hispanic person on the team give their input if an advertising team is targeting persons of Hispanic descent. This helps advertising teams ensure they're representing such persons realistically and appropriately.

More creativity

Projects commonly get more creative ideas when people from different backgrounds collaborate on them, as team members can exchange ideas that their unique perspectives and life experiences have influenced. In contrast, innovative thinking may reduce when people of similar backgrounds collaborate.

Talented candidates

Committing to diversity can help companies attract suitable candidates, especially if they desire excellent teams. Companies may attract such candidates to apply to them by demonstrating that they value and respect candidates from diverse backgrounds. This also typically gives more people the chance to work for the company, which can result in better and more talented teams.

Excellent reputation

A diverse work environment can improve a company's reputation, especially if they target persons from different backgrounds. Consumers who welcome diversity may also be more likely to support a company that reflects a diverse mentality during its hiring process. Companies can consequently express this mentality and demonstrate it to the public by putting efforts into hiring a diverse staff.

Related: How to Establish a Personal Brand

Better acceptance

People may become more accepting of others from different backgrounds as they spend more time with them. These regular interactions can give employees more insight into and understanding of different backgrounds and cultures in case of significant differences. Staff members can then learn from one another and become more accepting when they have a safe environment to celebrate their potential differences.

More skills to use

A diverse workforce typically results in a more diverse skill set. This broad range of skills can help a company develop excellent products and services. Likewise, employees can also collaborate and share more efficiently when they possess various essential skills. Companies may also develop a workforce with team members that help one another build their skills further, subsequently creating a more talented work environment.

Increased problem-solving

Assembling people of different backgrounds is also helpful for a company's problem-solving process. This is because each person can bring their distinct skills and experiences to project meetings, potentially helping the team identify better solutions they may not have otherwise considered. Each team member understands a challenge in unique ways, resulting in innovative thought processes.

More representation

Companies also gain the ability to perform work that has represents different kinds of people when they have a diverse team. For example, a diverse advertising team can brainstorm topics that different people may find appealing when developing a commercial or writing a blog post. Similarly, the team becomes able to determine the perspectives and opinions of people with diverse backgrounds. People commonly express excitement or interest when they see advertisements authentically representing them.

Reduced employee turnover

Progressive workplace policies can help companies reduce their turnover rates among employees. This is because demonstrating diverse attributes can help a company make people feel welcomed and accepted at their workplaces.

Related: Common Causes and How to Prevent High Employee Turnover

Improved productivity

Allowing people of unique backgrounds to have a chance to be impactful can increase employee morale, translating to improved productivity. Employees may grow loyal to the company and put more effort into their responsibilities if their companies make them feel important. A company may also discover a more productive approach to its operations if it has numerous unique ideas to employ.

Ways to ensure effective diversity implementation

Effectively implementing workforce diversity is necessary to enjoy its benefits, so here are some steps for implementing diversity:

Align diversity practices with distinct company goals

Implementing workplace diversity is a significant commitment, so it's essential to gather resources to aid it. Each company has a distinct set of goals, so they may align their diversity practices with them to ensure success. This means accounting for the particular culture the company has in place. The company can conduct a diversity-focused survey to determine its specific gaps. This can help the company learn where to focus its resources and ensure alignment with its goals and diversity practices.

Manage the transition

Companies require a team, support, and resources in place to help them transform their diversity initiatives from a mere concept to full implementation. It's essential for the company's executives to secure leadership buy-in to guarantee their future support. Ensuring that their team is on-board and ready is also vital. This necessitates a dedicated department such as a department of inclusion and diversity to keep the company accountable for results.

Provide specialized training to the management team

Workplace diversity requires the full cooperation of all the company's staff to be successful. Managers are especially influential in how a company manages these initiatives. The senior team can benefit from specialized management training to comprehend and appreciate the importance of the company's diversity goals. Companies sometimes recruit other professionals who specialize in such training to help them develop effective diversity training. It's also worth providing training opportunities to the whole organization. It's possible that some team members may have unconscious biases, so addressing common biases through company-wide training can help people develop their awareness.

Commitment

Enforcement is an essential aspect of implementing workplace diversity. Companies can set up committees that enforce the new diversity practices and review the diversity policy to include beneficial practices. The diversity committee can also review the enforcement strategy to ensure there are no lapses in enforcing workplace diversity.

Diversity questions to ask in an interview

Including some questions about diversity and inclusion can help you determine whether potential candidates are a good fit or an addition to the organizational culture within your workplace. Hiring more employees who value diversity can also make the team work more cohesively together. Here are some questions you can ask candidates in an interview ask regarding diversity, including what to look for in a sound answer:

What do equality, diversity, and inclusion mean to you?

As a hiring manager, you can ask this question to identify the candidate's perspective on important diversity and inclusion topics. The candidate can also use the opportunity to explain what their diversity values mean to them.

Related: 10 Types of Interview Questions You Can Expect

How do you approach understanding team members from different backgrounds?

This helps you measure the candidate's understanding of the values operating in a workplace. The candidate may demonstrate how they interacted with their previous coworkers from different backgrounds. An excellent answer may include valuing other perspectives, listening actively, and understanding the importance of diverse opinions.

What do you consider a challenge in a diverse workplace?

It's essential that a good answer discusses how the candidate addresses problem-solving within the workplace. This is because the question gives you an opportunity to confirm that the candidate is aware of the challenges with diversity and learn their plans to resolve them. A good answer can acknowledge a previous challenge related to diversity and inclusion, focusing on how they overcame it while remaining positive about their previous workplace.

What mistake do companies make when approaching diversity?

A good answer can employ this question to demonstrate the candidate's understanding of what it means for a company to implement diversity. For example, the actual organizational culture of some companies doesn't reflect their ideal diversity goals. The candidate can leverage this opportunity to discuss how to remedy this disparity in their answer. For example, some organizations don't recognize minority days of celebration and don't give such days off to relevant staff members. The candidate can use this question to propose steps in addressing the disparity.

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