Benefits of a strategic approach to diverse and included employees

09 October 2017

“If just 10 per cent more employees feel included, the company will increase work attendance by almost one day per year per employee.” –  Deloitte Australia’s Diversity, Inclusion and Business Performance survey.

The same survey also showed that when employees think their organisation is committed to diversity, and they feel highly included, they are 80 per cent more likely to agree they work in a high performing company.

The many proven benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace are now widely understood by employers who are beginning to take steps to ensure their workforces are made up of a broad range of diverse employees who all feel included.

The Deloitte Australia survey shows just how important it is to have an inclusive workplace that doesn’t discriminate against employees on any basis, be it race, gender or religious reasons. Feeling discriminated against, or excluded, can leave employees feeling disengaged and at increased risk of mental health issues.

But a workplace that accepts people of all orientations has been shown to be far more productive and innovative. After all, people with a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences naturally bring a whole host of different ideas to the table that a more homogenous group may not produce.

Diversity Council Australia research shows employees in inclusive environments have improved performance levels, a greater sense of psychological wellbeing and feel valued and respected.

Creating workplace tension, through non-inclusion such as racism, can damage an organisational image and hamper productivity. If managers understand different cultures they can much more effectively lead their diverse employees and teams.

A manager who is inclusive and has a highly flexible, rather than fixed, view of their and others’ identities, can create an environment of greater creativity, improved innovation and higher income and productivity returns.

An inclusive leader can also create greater team engagement, higher levels of commitment and satisfaction and promote better job opportunities and career advancement for their workers.

Inclusive workplace environments also lead to more effective and productive conflict resolution, where everyone is allowed to have their say in an open and honest manner, creating an acceptable integration of differing viewpoints.

After all, the Diversity Council Australia research shows workplaces that encourage employees to voice their opinions and be involved in decision making have, on average, 33 per cent less employee turnover. And, it goes without saying, inclusive environments lead to lower levels of harassment and discrimination.

Unconscious biases, such as effective heuristic bias, or “judging a book by its cover” or confirmation bias, can also play into a lack of diversity and inclusion as the mind can create a hypothesis where it rejects any information about someone to the contrary.

In one study, teachers looking to employ a Laboratory Manager were given the same resumes, with male and female names. The teachers generally considered the male applicants more competent and gave them $4000 higher salaries. This is a clear example of an unconscious bias leading to a less inclusive workplace.

However, managers who believe diversity can improve organisational performance can create teams that feel they belong and are valued, respected and more productive. Managers, and workplaces, like this are invaluable.

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