What is workplace diversity?
Everyone wants to have their identity valued. Unfortunately, social constructs have allowed humans to erect walls between the differences that make each individual unique. These walls take the form of discrimination or harassment.
However, there is a way to break these walls down—by creating a diverse workplace.
Diversity has many benefits, including better communication, higher retention rates, and stronger bottom lines. But to fully grasp what it means to have a diverse team, you need to be familiar with the levels of diversity in the workplace. These include:
- Internal diversity – Internal diversity is characteristics a person carries with them as a part of their identity. This diversity can include age, country, gender, or racial diversity and is never a choice for the individual. Federal law protects individuals with a series of laws designed to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.
- External diversity – These are characteristics that come from outside influences, and an individual can make changes to this portion of their identity if they choose. External diversity characteristics include religion, personal experiences, and family status.
- Organizational Diversity – Organizations can benefit widely from DEI initiatives. Diversity in the organization should occur at all levels, from entry-level to senior management, for maximum impact.
- Worldview diversity – Everyone goes through life experiences that shape their worldview. For example, during the pandemic, there was a wide range of responses to the various mandates, recommendations, and new reports. Organizations with many individuals may find conflicting worldviews, which is why cultural competency training is vital.
Explore the different types of diversity these categories encompass and learn some quick tips on improving your organization’s diversity today. Of course, you can always find an expert partner with Coach Diversity Institute. The various diversity coach programs have ample learning opportunities for all levels in your organization, helping you craft the perfect workplace culture!
7 Types of Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity is more than ethnicity. There are different types of diversity, ranging from age diversity to LGBTQ diversity. Understanding the various types of diversity helps break stereotypes and prevent discrimination, especially when you know what to look out for!
1. Age diversity
The battle of the century seems to be which generation is the worst—the baby boomers or the millennials? That kind of thinking leads to age discrimination, a toxic phenomenon that sees a person judged based on their age. In reality, baby boomers and millennials, along with gen x, gen z, and soon the zoomers, are valuable assets to any organization.
Age discrimination comes in the form of not promoting an older worker over someone younger, despite the older worker’s qualifications. And the pressures on older workers when transitioning jobs can be financially devastating because of this discrimination. Workers of all kinds can provide value to other generations, such as younger generations helping with technology, while older generations can mentor and provide leadership guidance.
2. Gender diversity
Terms like “man-splaining,” “chairman,” or “manpower” show the systematic gender-bias nature of workplaces. Gender identity is a powerful source of confidence; whether you’re transgender, cisgender, or any of the various genders, you have the human right to experience respect. Gender diversity has protections under the law, but discrimination is still rampant.
You may witness gender discrimination in the form of verbal, physical, or behavioral slights about one’s gender. Not only are gender stereotypes categorically wrong, but they’re also harmful to company culture. You can help curb gender biases in your organization by installing gender-neutral bathrooms, establishing lactation rooms for mothers, or including pronouns on email signatures.
3. Cultural diversity
Technology is allowing more globalization, and companies are taking advantage. The increasing investment in remote employees means talent pools are free from geographic location restrictions. Unfortunately, unconscious biases could lead to discrimination based on an individual’s cultural background.
Building an inclusive workplace means eliminating cultural bias during the hiring process. Those with different cultural backgrounds provide a unique perspective leading to improved problem-solving and higher employee engagement. You can implement various practices to eliminate implicit bias, such as removing names and locations from applications or using skills-based assessments.
4. Sexual orientation
The LGBTQ community pays a heavy mental health price due to discrimination. More than 17% of adults that identify as LGBTQ have attempted suicide, which is a tragic number, and there’s more we can do in the workplace to prevent that number from rising. While Pride Month is an excellent way to get involved with celebrating LGBTQ, it shouldn’t wait until June.
Valuing those of all sexual orientations should extend to benefits like parental leave for same-sex couples and being an active ally for the LGBTQ community. You can achieve this by creating a workplace culture based on inclusive language, or like gender diversity, you can include pronouns in email signatures. Plus, the rainbow-clad design is ripe for company swag.
5. Physical and cognitive abilities and disabilities
Physical and neurodiversity employment numbers are another disheartening statistic, with millions of job seekers with a disability having a difficult time finding jobs. A diverse workforce includes differently abled physical and cognitive individuals and doesn’t use physical ability as a job function requirement.
Installing ramps for wheelchair access can help make the work environment more accessible and providing accessibility software or equipment to help those with other needs. Plus, if your office acts as a storefront, you can attract a broader customer base and build a loyal following.
6. Religious and spiritual beliefs
In 2012, a Pew Research study found that 5.8 billion people worldwide identified as religious. Although that number is decreasing, it still represents almost 84% of all human life and with more than 4,000 religions worldwide, celebrating religious and spiritual diversity impacts more people than many realize.
An excellent way to include diversity in spiritual and religious beliefs is by allowing employees to observe holidays outside the traditional Judeo-Christian calendar structure. Another positive way is to allow for a workplace prayer or meditation space. Those with different backgrounds will appreciate the religious tolerance, and you might even improve retention and profitability along the way!
7. Socioeconomic diversity
Working is a fact of life for the vast majority of us. And workers of all socioeconomic statuses provide valuable services for every industry. Unfortunately, socioeconomic background and political beliefs cause unmerited discrimination based on wealth or social class. This discrimination unfairly targets those with cultural, disability, and ethnic diversities and can cause toxic relationships if left unchecked.
Eliminating bias toward those from socioeconomic diversities also starts during the hiring process by removing location from job applications. An implicit bias would be selecting a candidate from a perceived better neighborhood over one from a poorer community without respecting the different perspective that person might have or the motivation for living where they do.
Learn about diversity with Coach Diversity Institute
Workplace diversity represents the collective identities of your entire team. Whether an employee has a disability or comes from a different culture, everyone deserves to find meaningful employment. By understanding the different types of diversity in the workplace, you can work toward leveraging that diversity to unlock benefits for your company and simultaneously build an inclusive workplace culture!
Contact Coach Diversity Institute today to see how the International Coaching Federation (ICF) accredited programs can help you improve your workplace diversity. By getting started today, you can become a certified diversity coach before you know it and can become an expert on diversity, equity, and inclusion!