Woman on computer with male colleagues in background

The many layers of diversity

And the importance of inclusion

Written by Professor Gary Martin FAIM
2 minute read
Woman on computer with male colleagues in background

More than ever before, we are focusing on getting the settings right for a workplace that is fit not just for today’s purpose, but accommodates societal expectations about an acceptable and accepting tomorrow.

It has become abundantly clear that truly diverse and wholly inclusive organisations perform better than those brushed with sameness.

Diverse and inclusive organisations are quick to innovate, and can better anticipate shifts in customer needs and consumption patterns to help them to gain a competitive edge.

They are also often recognised for making better and bolder decisions – particularly in times of crises.

If one such crisis, COVID-19, delivered any positive outcomes, then one of them was the forced shake-up of generations-old workplace structures.

The required introduction of flexibility both from a workplace location and working hours point of view delivered significant progress on the equity and inclusion front.

Flexible working has delivered a positive impact to part-time workers, working parents, workers with a disability and students – to name just a few groups – and enabled the retention and possibly even introduction into the workplace of this important category of workers.

Today’s diversity and inclusion conversation often does not advance past ensuring gender parity and equity in the workplace.

After all, it took us – as a society – too long to recognise that by ignoring the power and importance of women across all levels of the workforce we were ignoring the input of half the population.

The number of women in the workplace is rising but arguably not enough is being done on the equity and inclusion front.

At the same time, diversity goes beyond binary equality and inclusion.

Society is increasingly defining the population along broader lines of diversity and demanding full inclusion.

And why would any organisation jeopardise its future success by failing to represent today’s society – in its full, diverse spectrum – among its rank and file?

It is not only the right thing but also the smart thing to do.

More and more organisations are hearing the message loud and clear, which is why we are seeing significant advances in diversity in the modern workplace.

There is some way to go to truly reflect society in our workplaces but the momentum is encouraging.

It is vital for us to continue to harness the diverse human capital to drive better-informed, more relevant decision-making.

Diversity only works if it is accompanied by inclusion across all stations of the modern workplace – from doing the work to setting the strategy to leading to success.