What is Deep-Level Diversity? Definition and Examples

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What is deep-level diversity?

Diversity is a blanket term applied to the personality traits and social identities of subgroups in the overall population. Often, people associate the term with cultural diversity or gender diversity, but these definitions only serve to highlight the effects of surface-level diversity. 

But what is surface-level diversity? Surface-level diversity describes the individual differences that are visible. These include age, race, sex, gender identity, visible disabilities, and body size. 

On the other hand, deep-level diversity evaluates individual differences that are not visible. These characteristics describe attitudes, values, beliefs, and opinions. But they can also include sexual orientation, health status, neurodiversity, socioeconomic background, or invisible disabilities. 

In short, diversity is more than skin deep, and valuing the unique aspects of an individual and the way diversity interacts within individuals is to value intersectionality. Intersectionality is the result of robust diversity research and hypotheses, but the studies all point to the benefits of diversity on a deep level. 

All that research shows that deep-level diversity provides an environment where individuals feel comfortable, happy, and healthy. That leads to better retention and team performance, something top management constantly seeks. 

Let’s examine why deep-level diversity is essential, the benefits of implementing deep-level diversity strategies, and some tips on promoting deep-level diversity in your organization! 

Why Deep-Level Diversity is Important

Examinations published in the Journal of Management Studies and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology show that deep-level diversity, when utilized with a moderator, facilitates more team-level success, problem-solving, and decision-making capabilities. 

These same studies suggest that demographic characteristics, like ethnicity, alone did little to boost any performance metrics. That means surface-level diversity won’t bring the kind of business wins you’re looking for. 

Instead, when you focus on deep-level diversity, several positives begin to emerge. Many businesses report many of the following benefits after implementing a deeper diversity strategy.

  • Improved engagement – Employees who feel like they belong in the workgroup are more confident in sharing their thoughts or providing feedback. Likewise, team members who feel comfortable within their work teams are more likely to engage with others, including leadership. 
  • Greater innovation – Does it feel like no one can think outside the box? It could be a lack of deep-level diversity. Deep-level diversity fosters unique ideas and methods, allowing you to innovate like never before. 
  • Competitive standing – What do the most successful businesses have in common? They value workplace diversity. Phillips, for example, is one of the most competitive companies on Earth, and it also has one of the most diverse senior management teams. Coincidence? Not in the slightest, as deep-level diversity helped make them more competitive. 
  • Improved productivity – Psychological stressors, like those caused by discrimination or harassment, keep individuals from doing their best. Deep-level diversity as an organizational behavior creates safe spaces for everyone to feel valued.   

How to Promote Deep-Level Diversity in the Workplace

Now that we’ve explored the types of diversity and the benefits associated with deep-level diversity, let’s discuss how you can create safe spaces and celebrate interpersonal differences. 

1. Review your hiring practices.

A diverse workforce starts with your organization’s human decision process. To promote the most effective deep-level diversity, encourage your human resource team to evaluate the hiring process. This step should include a recommitment to an organizational culture of inclusive hiring and team diversity. 

The most impactful strategies for hiring a deep-diverse workforce are to evaluate core competencies to evaluate if they align with expectations. If not, rewrite job descriptions, loosen requirements, and implement hiring strategies that reinforce diverse and inclusive hiring. 

2. Highlight diverse leadership.

Company culture, including DEI values, starts with the leadership team. Inclusive and diverse leaders model, recognize, and celebrate diverse groups. They share their personal intersectionality to create safe spaces, so group members feel comfortable sharing their own personality traits.  

Operationalized leaders and human resource management teams often fail to recognize that diverse leadership and inclusive leaders make it easy for others to share feedback and new ideas. Perform a comprehensive management review to see if there are ways you can improve diversity among your leadership teams. 

Need some help with inclusive leadership? CoachDiversity Institute has executive coaching programs that help senior leaders become more inclusive. These one-on-one programs help unlock the inclusive potential in every leader. Apply today to see how executive coaching can help you become a more effective leader! 

3. Connect with others through storytelling.

Storytelling is a key aspect of the human condition. Allowing people to express themselves through stories gives them an opportunity for their authenticity to blossom. Encourage others to share stories, especially struggles, to increase awareness, empathy, and understanding in others. 

By providing an opportunity to connect with others through storytelling, you signal a willingness to learn, listen, and be open. Plus, you can help bridge the gap between cultures by hearing and feeling how others experience life. These experiences will go a long way to understanding the beliefs and opinions of others without judgment. 

4. Raise your voice about social justice issues.

The philosopher John Stuart Mill presented the idea that “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” That saying remains true as ever, and organizations will never achieve deep-level diversity if individuals stand by and do nothing about biases, harassment, and discrimination. 

Furthermore, teams won’t feel comfortable with leaders who don’t stand up for social struggles. There should be a strict no-tolerance policy and a hardline approach to discrimination. You can be a vital component of diversity management by establishing a small group committed to eliminating biased categorization, performing vital mediating, and evaluating overall diversity and inclusion.  

5. Hire a coach.

Shifting workplace culture takes time, patience, and guidance. No one can go it alone, and expert guidance can help confront implicit biases, prejudices, and discrimination. Diversity initiatives are especially challenging to implement in traditionally homogeneous environments, and if objections arise, hiring a coach can be an excellent method of improving reception to changes. 

A diversity coach can work with individuals or facilitate training in groups to help bring awareness, guidance, and resources to your organization’s culture. Plus, you can even become a diversity coach yourself and help guide the next generation of the workforce to a brighter, more inclusive future. 

Looking to become a diversity coach? CoachDiversity Institute has programs designed to certify you as a diversity coach at various levels. And every certification has ICF accreditation, giving you extra confidence in your new abilities. Apply today to get started with your diversity coach journey. 

Build a Truly Diverse Workplace with CoachDiversity Institute

Deep-level diversity stands opposite of surface-level diversity in that understanding the depth of an individual adds more value to inclusion than demographic factors alone. Businesses that place a priority on deep-level diversity experience more benefits than those that focus on checking off physical characteristics. 

You don’t have to be content with the surface-level diversity show. Instead, you can support deep-level diversity with several strategies, including evaluating your hiring process, connecting with others through stories from other cultures, and raising your voice on social issues. By being an example, you can inspire those around you to make the changes necessary to become deep-level diverse. 

You don’t have to make changes on your own. CoachDiversity Institute is here to help you establish effective diversity training practices with our robust library of corporate training programs. Apply today and get started with your own culture shift!