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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

rsz_gettyimages-143072164final Diversity is, “The collective mixture of differences and similarities that include, for example, individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviors.” “Diversity is understanding and respecting differences, acknowledging similarities, broadening our horizons, embracing and enhancing cultural literacy." However you chose to define it, diversity is essential to any 21st century workplace.  While diversity entails all the ways we differ, being able to incorporate and bring together these differences is a part of inclusion. According to T. Hudson Jordon from the Profiles of Diversity Journal, “inclusion puts the concept and practice of diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect, and connection—where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed to create business value.” [Tweet "However you chose to define it, diversity is essential to any 21st century workplace."] In order to fully understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it’s important to understand one way it has expanded over the past several years: technological advances. The amount of cutting-edge technology in the 21st century is no secret. In a way, it has managed to shrink the size of the world by making it possible for humans to interact even if they’re millions of miles apart. TECHi has pointed out four of the most renowned ways technology has connected our world and improved diversity. Those include:


  1. Conquering Language Barriers
Technology can unite diverse cultures through various outlets, and smart devices aid those connections by providing translation and options for various languages.
  1. Transforming Global Commerce
Typically, business entities try to satisfy a local market need. With the current global economy, the entire world becomes a potential market.
  1. Methods of Conducting Business
Say goodbye to traditional meeting rooms and hello to conducting business via Skye, email and other applications. Conducting business globally is no longer an issue for most corporations.
  1. Establishing Personal Connections
The advances in technology and simple idea of sending a message electronically have transformed interactions of people and allowed them to reach out to audiences they previously weren’t able to. The power and ability of technology to connect a business from one culture to another has increased the desire and need of diversity in the workplace.


Now that we’ve covered the advanced presence of diversity in today’s workplace, what’s the true importance of it all? According to The Freeman Institute, during the last decade major race and gender discrimination lawsuits cost U.S. corporations about $974 million in settlements. However, those lawsuits could have been avoided through diversity and inclusion. Let’s take a look at some important economic and social benefits driven from the inclusivity of diversity in the workforce:

Diversity in the meeting room is essential for a company to reach its full potential.

In an article by Sophia Kerby and Crosby Burns, it states, “by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States, and our nation’s boardrooms need to represent these changing demographics.” Women and minorities only represent about a combined 32.5 percent of corporate boards among senior management in Fortune 500 companies. In order to increase proficiency, recruiting board directors must entail a fair share of expertise and varied experiences. Close up of designers having a meeting in office

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace allow businesses to avoid employee turnover costs

Nextel established a training program in 2001 to increase diversity awareness among businesses. A ROI study determined that this program saved the organization approximately $3,204,000 in turnover costs. In the first year, the ROI was 163%.

Diversity and inclusion promote a more creative and original workplace.

In 2013, Boris Groysberg and Katherine Connolly of Harvard Business School conducted a survey of 24 companies that made a name for themselves by making diversity a priority. Paul Block, CEO of Mersant, told them, “People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more. Diversity creates dissent, and you need that. Without it, you’re not going to get any deep inquiry or breakthroughs.” Your business and employees will actually perform better if you encourage diversity. In addition, in a Forbes study conducted in 2011, 85 percent of 321 large global enterprises agreed or strongly agreed that diversity is critical to foster innovation in the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion allows businesses to stay competitive in the economic market.

According to census data, between 2000 and 2050 new immigrants their children will account for 83 percent of the growth in the working-age population. When businesses choose to adapt to meeting the needs of diverse communities, the overall economy will grow and benefit. However you chose to define it, diversity and inclusion are important forces that drive our 21st century businesses to become the most successful versions they can be. Fostering these factors in the workplace has proven time and time again to provide external and internal benefits for businesses. So the next time you’re considering making changes in your business management or structure, start with diversity and inclusion to improve your overall organization. How would your employees benefit from embracing diversity and inclusion training?