The Evolution of Diversity in The Workplace

Jeffrey Fermin
May 19, 2022

The world we live in is shaped by human connection and our unique experiences, breathing life into every aspect of the society we live in. Diversity in the workplace is an asset for both employees and the businesses they work for, as it fosters creativity, idea generation, and connectedness that propels success at every level. However, businesses need intentional and thoughtful synthetization in order to successfully establish a grounds of diversity, as well as inclusion, in their workplace. Organization leaders and business owners will need to adapt in order to remain or garner success in their industry. 

The Origin of Diversity Initiatives in The Workplace

Diversity is not just a moral issue, but also a business issue. Although a spotlight has been shone on diversity issues in the workplace in the past decade, workplace diversity calls-to-action had not started to emerge until the mid-1960s. Prior, many companies had deep histories of race and gender discrimination, as well as a lack of cultural diversity, with no protocols, training, or reprimands. 

 Some major milestones include:

  • President Truman signed an Executive Order in 1948 to desegregate the armed services. Many scholars cite this as the first diversity protocol put into place in the workplace. The Executive Order required equal treatment and opportunity be presented to all in the armed forces. 
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for any business to practice discrimination as part of their hiring practices. 
  • Secretary of Labor William Brock commissions Workforce 2000; a study of economic and demographic data carried out by the Hudson Institute. Workforce 2000 focused on how the United States would continue to get more diverse and businesses would need to diversify in order to remain competitive. 
  • San Jose Mercury News began their investigation of Silicon Valley tech companies in 2008. A Freedom of Information was filed in order to try and access the tech companies’ diversity data. Only three of the companies released their statistics willingly. 

While we have come a long way, diversity initiatives should be constantly changing and adapting. This is because diversity in the workplace expands further than gender, ethnicity, and race. There are employees that have differing religious beliefs, educational backgrounds, sexual orientations, and disabilities that deserve to feel heard. 

Diversity in The Workplace Drives Business Performance

Most of us inherently know that diversity is good for business. But, some business owners state that their success goes further than data or metrics could ever measure. Kathy Jeffery, Chief People Officer of Pear Therapeutics, states, “Your business will experience the benefits of diversity – improved employee performance and morale, greater innovation and increased profitability – first-hand, which proves that your life can only become richer when incorporating more diversity”. Employees that bring to the table diverse backgrounds have their own unique perspectives and ideas based on their experiences. 

In our Reimaging Company Culture series, we talked to D&I trailblazer, Deborah Levine, about how the diversity initiatives have improved in the past 30 years, and where she sees it going: 

The blending of different ethnicities and experiences is the key to driving innovation. Research has suggested that these experiences are the foundations to creating organizations that are more adept at problem-solving and creative thinking to outwit the competition. A report published by McKinsey stated that companies in the study in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity were 35% more likely to have above-average returns. A culturally diverse workplace environment promotes a corporate space that is flexible, as well as versatile. Businesses have the power to completely transform our social landscape. Organizations that focus on contributing to a diverse and inclusive society will be met with growth. 

The Modern Day Workforce

The modern day workforce will eventually be primarily made up of millennials. This group of individuals will not only just be employees, they will also be involved in leadership and management roles. Millennials believe that businesses need to take actionable steps to build and maintain a diverse work culture in order to make the company they work for more successful. According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials value an organization more when it has a culture based around inclusion. In order for a business to remain successful and profitable, they need to adopt these same ideologies surrounding diversity in the workplace to attract this modern day workforce. 

Increasing Diversity Training Alone will not Create The Inclusive Spaces Needed

True diversity and inclusivity is a continuous effort throughout the whole lifecycle of an employee's career. Training team members and even leadership roles on diversity, as well as inclusivity, best practices will not garner the necessary results needed for success alone. Instead, organization leaders will need to implement comprehensive protocols and initiatives that foster a psychologically safe environment for diversity to thrive.  

Inclusion will need to be purposeful. Simply throwing a mix of different people together will not guarantee better performance. Inclusive leadership is a necessity to help those team members feel a sense of belonging and inspiration. Cindu Thomas-George, founder of Shakti Diversity & Equity Training, explains that leaders in the business world need to invite underrepresented employees to actively contribute their insights. She goes on to say that, “An invitation to help choreograph the “dance” of our businesses is not only an act of empowerment, but it can also help ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion is being deliberately designed into the DNA of our organizations”. Diversity and inclusion need to be implemented side by side. 

How AllVoices is Reshaping The Future

Intentional inclusion and diversity initiatives in the workplace lead to the growth of a business. However, many business owners can feel overwhelmed at just how to start fostering a supportive and inclusive working environment. AllVoices, an employee intelligence platform, provides an innovative way to build a foundation of trust between team members and organization leaders. The encrypted platform enables anonymous feedback, including a Whistleblower Hotline, that protects the anonymity of the employee while also allowing them to safely express their concerns in a feedback loop that promotes a positive company culture. Transparent communication fosters an equitable workplace and allows company owners to maintain their diverse talent, by providing their employees with a means to feel safe speaking up. Employees will feel not only valued, but encouraged to express their unique opinions. AllVoices gives you the tools you need to make sure your employees are heard.    

Don’t get caught off guard by employee feedback. AllVoices can help.
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