3 reasons why diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is key to employee engagement and business success

3 reasons why diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is key to employee engagement and business success

With employers under more pressure than ever to stay competitive to retain talent and new research from AON showing the positive correlation between DE&I and employee engagement, delivering DE&I initiatives in your workplace is now a non-negotiable aspect of good people management – both from a moral standpoint and also in terms of bottom line.

Before we dive into why a diverse workplace is so important, let’s recap on what a diverse and inclusive workplace looks like. Diversity refers to all the dimensions that make each person who they are. This includes ethnicity, race, age, gender identity, physical ability, sexual orientation and many more. It’s important to remember that diversity in the workplace isn’t a tick-box exercise and most certainly doesn’t start and end with your hiring processes. To make a positive lasting change to employee engagement, DE&I needs to be owned by everyone and embedded into your culture in the form of specific policies and metrics. It’s less about getting it right the first time around and more about understanding the impact your DE&I strategy can have on your business and implementing different initiatives accordingly.

In terms of the link between a diverse workforce and a happy and engaged one, this boils down to a number of key reasons. This includes an improved sense of belonging, different viewpoints and strengths optimising innovation and efficiency, and an increase in employee retention and advocacy. Ultimately, building a workplace where the nuances of every individual are celebrated and every voice is welcomed and respected is a fantastic foundation for improving employee engagement and business success. Here are three reasons why:

A diverse and inclusive team will boost innovation

When a group of people from a variety of different backgrounds and with a variety of different abilities are brought together in a workplace setting, you’ll see an influx of diverse ideas and innovation. This is because each individual will bring a different viewpoint and opinion based on their background, culture and personal experiences. Having diversity weaved throughout different areas of your business will ensure that you’re also attracting a variety of different customers and are able to adapt more fluidly to meet their unique needs in new and exciting ways. You’ll also likely be able to find solutions to problems more efficiently with a diverse team. 

From an employee’s point of view, this is beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’ll feel like their voice has been heard, respected and added value, and this contribution to business success will give them a boost. In fact, according to research from Salesforce, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. Plus, exposure to different opinions and perspectives is crucial to their personal and professional development. And, finally, when problems are solved more efficiently as a team, there will be a sense of camaraderie and joint success which will improve engagement, workplace culture and their sense of belonging.

A diverse and inclusive team will boost a sense of belonging

That brings us nicely to our second point. How your employees feel about the business they work for will have a huge impact on their day-to-day engagement. Working somewhere that not only allows but encourages them to show up each day being their true, authentic selves, will enhance their sense of belonging and fulfilment. Being a part of a diverse and inclusive workplace culture will help to ensure they build meaningful relationships with their colleagues, have a deeper connection to the business’s purpose and mission and understand how their unique strengths can help to achieve common goals. All of these things will boost their social wellbeing – which is a key pillar of overall health and wellbeing – and create a happy, motivated team of employees.

From a business’s perspective, when employees feel as though they belong at work, we often see significant inflation in the business’s bottom line. In fact, according to HBR, high belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days. On the other hand, if you fail to create an inclusive and diverse environment for your team, you risk significantly impacting engagement and even alienating employees.

A diverse and inclusive team will boost business reputation

When a business is seen to be implementing initiatives and policies to make its working environment as diverse and inclusive as it can be, employee advocacy is likely to be higher. This, in turn, will strengthen the overall reputation of the business. 

When a company has a good reputation, this has a knock-on effect on both employee retention and attraction. Ultimately, people want to work for a reputable company that will treat them right. In fact, A study by Glassdoor found that two-thirds of active and passive job seekers believe a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. On top of this, Deloitte’s inclusion pulse survey found that 39% of respondents said they would leave their current employer for a more inclusive business. When your business has a good reputation, your current employees will remain engaged and satisfied with your business for longer and you’ll attract top talent by having a competitive edge over other companies. All of this will create a positive cycle whereby your current diverse team and inclusive working environment will boost employee advocacy and your reputation as a business, which will widen your network and attract more diverse talent.

To summarise, in the current climate, a business ED&I strategy and inclusive culture are key to boosting employee engagement, helping your people thrive, setting you apart from competitors and ultimately, helping your business succeed. From a moral point of view, building a community in which your people can celebrate their differences and be their authentic selves is a brilliant way to boost their wellbeing and help them look forward to work each day – which, ultimately, is what every business should strive for.


Read next: The importance of inclusivity in the workplace

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