The “business case for diversity” comes from the development of modern-day models of diversity in the workplace since the early 1960s. Authorizing diverse cultures and traditions, diversity becomes an important component of the workplace, which often serves as a touchstone to modern professionalism. The growing professional culture and equality at work are two major drivers behind this notion. However, these two developments also created new tensions between those who desired these changes and those who were affected by them.
Discussions about equality and diversity in the workplace are nothing new. Since the dawn of industrialism, companies have been struggling with issues of cultural diversity and exclusion. A sense of uniformity was considered desirable for both employees and employers, while employers did not want their employees to be stigmatized because of their own inability to fully integrate. In order to create a sense of equality in the workplace, companies developed recruitment methods that targeted employees based on ability and skill rather than their ethnicity, heritage, or gender.
While this process was initially successful, the notion of equality and diversity began to change. Employers began to realize that there was a distinction between the application of hiring practices and equality and hiring practices that discriminated against employees because of their background. As a result, biases and stereotyping began to permeate the workplace. This allowed for the rise of what would become the contemporary form of diversity and inclusion; the “quotas.”
Quotas represented a compromise between the equality of a merit-based system and the diversity of a multicultural society. By placing a quota on executive teams, businesses were able to say that they were taking steps in order to create a truly diverse workforce. Quotas were also flexible enough to accommodate almost any ethnicity, cultural background, and socioeconomic background. As a result, the idea of diversity and inclusion became very appealing to companies.
New Age of Inclusion
Though diversity and inclusion remain relatively contentious topics, many companies are practicing strategies that attempt to bridge the gap between equality and diversity. Some companies have taken the proactive approach of designing formal policies to define how they measure an employee’s level of diversity and inclusion. More importantly, though, many companies have taken the proactive step of implementing formal training programs that help employees understand and overcome workplace biases and stereotypes. These programs have been successful in creating a workplace environment that is both diverse and inclusive. Thus, companies that choose to implement these types of polices are beginning to reap the benefits that come from a truly equal and integrated workforce.
Companies that choose to embrace a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy will reap the benefits that come from a diverse and inclusive workforce. By taking the time to carefully review their own processes and those of their competitors, businesses can become far more successful in integrating diversity and inclusion into their work practices. Moreover, by creating a work environment that is supportive of a diverse workforce, employers can ensure that employees develop the skills and confidence needed to succeed at their jobs.
Enjoyed this blog and want to chat more about this important topic? Reach out to Eleanor Estes at TPI to discuss workplace diversity and inclusion further.
Eleanor Estes, CEO Tech Providers, Inc.