What is Diversity and Inclusion?
In today's dynamic and interconnected world, the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace cannot be overstated. Forbes (1) defines Diversity in the workplace as ‘employing people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, and education levels.’ Embracing diverse teams of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives not only enriches organisational culture but also drives innovation and fosters a sense of belonging; and with 26% of employees at their current company feeling like they don’t belong (2), this seems like a prime focus. Not that you need any more encouragement to invest in your knowledge about diversity and inclusion, but Mckinsey’s research continues to ‘affirm the link between diversity… and company financial outperformance’ (3).
This article explores the significance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, emphasising the benefits of embracing cultural diversity and neurodiversity. It delves into the advantages organisations gain from fostering inclusive environments, such as attracting top talent, driving innovation, and expanding global reach. Additionally, it addresses the challenges associated with cultural diversity and highlights the untapped potential of neurodiverse individuals. By understanding and embracing these aspects, businesses can create a positive and inclusive work environment that promotes resilience, creativity, and productivity.
'26% of employees at their current company feeling like they don’t belong' - Survey Monkey
It's understandable that delving into the complexities of diversity and inclusion can feel overwhelming, but as we embark on this journey together, I am strive to create a safe and trustworthy space where we can explore these topics, gain valuable insights, and foster a deeper understanding. Please feel free to reach out at any point with your questions or insights.
The United Kingdom is experiencing an exponential increase in cultural diversity, shaped by globalisation, migration patterns, and evolving societal norms. The workplace is now a vibrant tapestry of various ethnicities, languages, and traditions. Embracing cultural diversity not only cultivates a rich and inclusive environment but also unlocks new perspectives and approaches to problem-solving having incorporated knowledge from around the world.
Organisations that value cultural diversity gain a competitive edge, attract top talent, and expand their global reach which Harvard Business Review reaffirms with companies being 70% more likely to capture new markets due to investing in diversity in leaderships and correlated market outcomes (4).
Challenges you may face:
Increased demand for mental health support as many Migrants suffer drastically with multiple stressors from ‘the loss of cultural norms, religious customs, and social support systems, adjustment to a new culture and changes in identity and concept of self.’ (5)
Misinterpreted professional communication can pose an issue even in an English speaking workplace as gestures around the world can be misconstrued for example the ‘thumbs up’ in the UK can be interpreted as the middle finger in Iran or Afghanistan (6). This may also extend to the professional expected etiquette of working hours, punctuality, confrontation and respect for senior staff.
When trying to integrate teams and individuals using a social event, there may be behavioural differences and cliques that form from unconscious biases due to a social drinking culture in the UK for example, and various religions which are opposed to drinking, and even indirect association with the substance.
Putting motions in place to conquer these challenges and generate a positive, inclusive work environment will allow teams to draw on a diverse range of local knowledge meaning that your product and service will become more adaptable and generate higher quality leads and markets accessible to you leading to a more profitable outcome and higher business performance. Furthermore, this sought out environment aligned with the increase in migration patterns to the UK will lead you to attracting the top talent to drive productivity, creativity and innovation enabling and empowering individuals and teams for their voices to be heard.
Neurodiversity refers to the natural variation in how human brains work, encompassing conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and more.
In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the diagnosis and recognition of neurodiverse individuals. However, it is important to note that neurodiversity is not a problem to be fixed but a valuable asset to be embraced. Neurodiverse individuals often possess unique strengths in areas such as pattern recognition, attention to detail, creativity, and problem-solving. By providing support, accommodations, and inclusive environments, organisations can tap into the untapped potential of neurodiverse individuals and foster a culture of acceptance and appreciation.
Flexible working hours are becoming the norm in most businesses allowing individuals to empower their day, find their routine and optimum work-life balance to protect their energy and increase productivity. However, client facing roles struggle with this due to certain opening hours, contactable hours and targets that expect high quality customer service and return time on client work. Some neurodivergent individuals need routine to thrive which makes working from home opportunities crucial and reduced stress in being exposed to unexpected social situations. Access to information is imperative too due to an increasingly uncertain economy and adaptable business strategy. Providing updates at meetings, communications from business leaders and even general market knowledge will help ease anxiety and panic, whilst engaging highly successful and productive individuals in creating successful solutions for your business.
Struggling to empower your workforce through flexible working hours.
Ways to accommodate:
- Opportunities to work from home to find routine & reduce stress.
- Increase your communication & information available
It’s interesting to note that ADHD and autism are harder to diagnose within women, however, patterns associated with ADHD and autism become more obvious as women experience menopause. Not only do women have to struggle with increased anxiety, lack of sleep, loss of confidence and sometimes to the extent of tinnitus, but throwing a diagnosis of being Neurodivergent, can lead to loss of self, mental health struggles such as increased nervousness, panic and lack of confidence.
In conclusion, embracing diversity and inclusion in the workplace is vital in today's interconnected world. By valuing cultural diversity, organisations can tap into new perspectives and approaches to problem-solving, gain a competitive edge, attract top talent, and expand their global reach.
As a leader or person of impact within a business, you are able to create a greater sense of awareness around these topics and supportive environment full of resources to create resilience, find confidence and feel empowered. Bruce Daisley (Ex-VP of Twitter) once said that ‘Resilience is the strength we draw from one another’ rather than the perceived loneliness to keep brushing it off and carrying on.
Ultimately, diversity and inclusion contributes to organisational success, innovation, and a sense of belonging for all employees.