The Importance of Diversity for Employee Engagement

Back in the day, fostering diversity in the workplace was mostly about complying with various laws that guarantee equal opportunity regardless of age, gender, race, physical ability, religious beliefs, and in some areas, sexual orientation.

Now, however, smart companies grasp that diversity — or inclusion — is both broader and more subtle. Inclusion allows for more comprehensive solutions to the problems facing your organization. Perhaps even more important, inclusion garners more comprehensive support for a solution… if the various constituencies within your organization feel they've been given a seat at the table. The end result? You guessed it: higher levels of engagement.

As you assess the level of diversity in your organization, ask yourself: Do the heads of your teams and divisions look like your company? Does your company look like your clients?

Diversity isn't just about age, gender, race, physical ability, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation, however. It's also about such things as communication style, thinking style, parental status, and education. Look at this figure.

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In this image, the inner ring represents the traditional areas of diversity and inclusion (age, gender, race, and so on) with which most businesses are already quite familiar. In contrast, the outer ring represents considerations that businesses often overlook. But often, these outer considerations are the unseen contributors to an individual's motivation and behavior on the job.

Now, the items in the inner ring are insignificant — just that in order to create a successful, engaged, inclusive culture, these considerations need to be broadened to include those in the outer ring.

Diversity is the future of business. Companies that focus on inclusion will have a distinct advantage. Today as never before, you can leverage diversity of all kinds to make sure your future has the broadest foundation… and the highest potential.

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