Why is diversity and inclusion in the workplace important?

By Robert Half on 24 April 2023
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

We live in a diverse and increasingly globalised and connected world. It is therefore essential that our workplaces represent – if not celebrate or endorse – this diversity appropriately. In recent years, several studies on diversity have concluded that diversity improves performance, efficiency, and financial outcomes. In other words, diversity and inclusion in the workplace isn’t just important – it is an investment worth making.

Defining diversity and inclusion today

Before we look at why diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is important, let’s define what we mean by the term.

Diversity can include, but is not limited to, the following categories

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Orientation
  • Age
  • Disability

Each category or block of people have different lived and professional experiences, and therefore bring a new set of perspectives to the table. For an organisation to be truly diverse and inclusive, it must engage with as many of these categories as possible.

Related: Diversity in Hong Kong - 5 facts every employer should know

Why is it important to be diverse and inclusive in the workplace today?

Since each of these categories of people bring different experiences with them, they fundamentally change how an organisation functions – for the better. It’s for this reason, the benefits of DEI are manifold:

Improved productivity. Since diverse teams bring different skill sets and experiences to their work, diverse teams have the added advantage of learning from one another, improving long-term strategy, efficiency, and productivity.

Increased revenues. As a result of improved strategy, efficiency, productivity and the creativity diverse teams foster, increase revenues, too.

More millennial talent! When it comes to why it is important to be a diverse and inclusive workplace, one key factor to consider is the future of your organisation. Millennials will soon make up the majority of Hong Kong’s workforce, and they appreciate diversity. According to an extensive study by PwC on millennials and the workplace, millennial employees in Hong Kong hold different workplace values than their predecessors – 82% will choose employers whose corporate values matched their own, while 20% consider the company’s record when evaluating employers. To attract millennial talent, employers should assess their workplace values.

More empowered employees. Elaine Lam, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong notes that embracing gender equity is what makes an organisation “strive with diversity and [the] different talents we bring.”

“As a female leader with two kids, there are moments where I need to strike a balance between work and family,” says Lam. “There are times I question: Can we have it all? I am super fortunate to be working in a company that has been so supportive and I believe we can have it all – have confidence in yourself and believe the sky has no limit!”

Related: How can men be allies to women in the workplace?

How to bring diversity and inclusion into the spotlight in a business

Now that we’ve established why diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important, let’s discuss ways in which we can spotlight DEI within a business.

Assess where you are now. The old adage, “to know where you’re going, you must know where you came from” holds true. To start, collate all existing data you have on DEI at present and analyse where you stand. If you don’t have enough data or adequate data, consider sending out anonymous surveys for employees to respond to comfortably without fear of judgement.

Set DEI goals, and commit to them. Communicate with current employees to set DEI goals, and communicate these goals with them and future talent. A first step is including an open commitment to DEI on your company’s website or as specific as scouting female talent through women’s networking clubs or similar. Essentially, let diverse talent know you’re looking for them, and make it easier for them to find you.

Examine your recruitment practices. Apart from routinely re-examining your goals and existing DEI policies and practices, the most important factor employers can concentrate on is reducing their unconscious bias. This can be done through creating a diverse hiring team and routinely training them and your employees to identify any blindspots they might possess. Additionally, if you conduct tests, or ask candidates to submit online applications, consider using blind reviews. This means removing any personal information about the candidates such as their name or gender, before evaluating their applications.

Ultimately, equality, diversity and inclusion are essential elements of corporate culture. Striving to create a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and with respect, have equal access to opportunities and resources is key to attracting and retaining talent in today’s market and beyond.

Looking for diverse talent? Head here, or take a look at how DEI and corporate culture are affecting hiring in 2023 in Robert Half’s Salary Guide

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