Diversity Vs. Inclusion: Understanding the Differences

Diversity and inclusion are two terms personnel worldwide use interchangeably, to an extent where one may be forgiven for assuming they mean the same thing. But as you’ll soon see, these are two distinct concepts that should in no way be seen to imply the same thing.

On the same breadth, companies should also investigate equity in the workplace to ensure that every employee gets treated right. Research shows that companies that prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) perform better than those that don’t.

Here’s a more detailed look into diversity and inclusion from professional HR consultants.

What’s the Meaning of Diversity?

Diversity in a workplace environment refers to a variation in social, physical, and personal characteristics, e.g., education, gender, age, and ethnicity.

What’s the Meaning of Inclusion? 

Inclusion in HR trends refers to the procedures that companies implement to integrate all their workers, ensuring they can coexist in the same space in a mutually beneficial manner.

The primary goal of having an inclusion strategy is to allow all the personnel to feel comfortable and accepted and be in a position to share their thoughts and opinions freely.

Put simply, diversity includes the ‘what’ while inclusion handles the ‘how.’

Understanding the Differences Between Diversity and Inclusion


Ever wonder how a workplace environment can appear diverse but fail to check the inclusion checkbox? Organizations interested in becoming diverse might find themselves making the mistake of hiring workers based on their surface characteristics.

In such a scenario, the employees in question may begin to feel tokenized, a factor that will impact their work ethics, making it impossible to deliver to their fullest capabilities. Such individuals will often end up leaving mid-contract, leaving a gap that HR must then fill.

Tokenism is when the HR authorities opt to include a single member from a minority community in a majority. A good example is when you have one Latino employee in a predominantly white group or a single female in an all-male group.

This practice doesn’t help make the company any more diverse than it was, and it may end up hurting its chances of becoming more inclusive. And this is not forgetting its impact on the mental health of your personnel.

While it takes time to build an inclusive environment, there’s a need to look out for tokenism, as this may lead to impostor syndrome, workplace anxiety, and a lack of a sense of belonging.

Benefits Offered by Diversity and Inclusion


Workplace diversity and inclusion strategies have many benefits, such as allowing for more effective problem-solving and boosting creativity. Below is a look at the benefits a company stands to gain when it’s more diverse and inclusive:

1. Improved All Round Performance

When employees feel safe and welcome at their places of work, they tend to become more engaged and open with those around them. It becomes easier for them to ask for help and take risks they believe can benefit the organization.

In the long term, this positively impacts their productivity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. Diversity of thought is another benefit linked to diversity and is a benefit that allows employees to become better, relate to each other differently, and learn more.

A study by BetterUp revealed that teams with a diverse group of leaders recorded 50% higher team performance, 90% higher team innovation, and 140% higher team engagement.

2. Improves Organizational Culture and Image

Organizations that have a largely homogenous environment fail the diversity test as they only feel comfortable with individuals who fit into it. The result is a workplace that only feels ‘inclusive’ to those who fit in and hostile to others.

On the other hand, organizations that practice global hiring tend to have a more inclusive, collaborative, and diverse workplace. Hiring and promoting personnel from diverse backgrounds can positively impact how a firm is perceived by its employees and even the public.

Furthermore, it’s commonplace for employees to feel rooted in their prejudices, more so when confronted by a cultural majority. Those in the minority are often left with little choice but to assimilate with the others, leading to increased workplace anxiety and a groupthink mentality.

3. Improves Company Profitability

Organizations that have mastered diversity and inclusion tactics experience higher revenue, enabling them to post better profits year in and year out. According to this 2015 McKinsey report, culturally diverse companies have a higher potential [35%] to surpass median earnings in their niche.

The report adds that those with stronger gender diversity have a 15% likelihood of recording exceptional profits!

4. Attracts and Retains Talent

Employees enjoy working in companies where they are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work daily. This kind of authenticity makes them more driven, adaptable, and resilient and helps minimize their risk of experiencing burnout or suffering from depression.

Moreover, organizations with a robust diversity and inclusion program are attractive to job seekers and usually attract and retain the best talent possible. The reality is that when employees feel welcome at their places of work, they stay put longer and perform to their full capabilities.


There’s an ever-increasing need for workplace diversity and inclusion, and the best way to ensure that companies implement the two is to start by understanding their differences. And rather than pick one over the other, companies need to look at their internal hiring and onboarding policies to identify where they’re going wrong.

For them to be able to successfully bridge the gap from diversity to promoting a sense of belonging, they must be ready to welcome, honour, and value all types of cultural differences. Accepting that all individuals are vulnerable and authentic in their unique ways can encourage others to do the same, leading to better diversity and inclusivity.

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HR suite

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