A diverse workplace has many benefits. Not only does it include people from varying backgrounds, but it also gives them the opportunity to be more innovative, collaborate more effectively, improve team performance, and increase productivity. Find out more about what workplace diversity is, its benefits, and its key characteristics here.
Diversity in the workplace is when an organisation intentionally employs a range of individuals from various backgrounds. The individuals can have a variety of characteristics, such as gender, religion, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, and educational backgrounds. People who work for an organisation can also be neurodiverse. Neurodiverse people can have autism, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette syndrome, plus other kinds of neurodiversity. One organisation that consists of various neurodiverse staff is Exceptional Individuals – around 80% of their employees and volunteers are neurodiverse. Having a neurodiverse team is an advantage because they can help other neurodiverse individuals find work.
The key characteristics of a diverse workplace are the inclusion of people from various backgrounds, including neurodiverse ones, abilities and skills, ways of thinking and working practices. These key characteristics are just as worthy as the benefits of a diverse workplace.
The employees’ backgrounds are based on factors such as their race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, and neurodiversity. Most of these characteristics are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, including in the workplace. Employees who possess these characteristics are treated equally regardless of their backgrounds. Employers can ensure they hire individuals from various backgrounds by publishing job advertisements in newspapers rather than the internet.
To prevent themselves from discrimination, applicants must not include any personal information about their backgrounds on their CVs. Neurodiverse individuals who are looking for work can send their CVs to Exceptional Individuals and Exceptional Individuals can update them on any new job opportunities that are relevant to their CVs.
Some unique abilities and skills that neurodiverse individuals particularly bring to the workplace are problem-solving, spotting trends, creativity, and data analysis. Other unique abilities skills that diverse teams can bring are analysing ideas, finding flaws, coming up with big ideas for marketing campaigns, following through on the ideas, and making them come to fruition.
Employers who wish to create a more diverse workplace can undertake diversity training to improve their ability of dealing with a wide range of situations. They can also enhance cultural awareness, confront unconscious bias, mitigate microaggressions, and combat stereotypes.
Neurodiverse individuals can display various ways of thinking. These include imaginative thinking, critical thinking, analytical thinking, and creative thinking. A workplace where its employees think in diverse ways makes it possible for them to contribute to projects together.
Thought diversity is often the result of other types of diversity because the way employees think is shaped by the cultures and experiences they have lived.
An employer who implements processes that celebrate thought diversity means opening themselves to the idea that their ways of thinking are not the best ways. Re-ordering their day-to-day operations can improve thought diversity by making the workplace more accessible to a larger group of people. A diverse workplace enables employees to express their perspectives and needs in a way that makes them feel safe.
Employers should establish a sense of being for everyone to bring their best self forward. A working environment where employees feel that they can be themselves can result in them increasing their creativity and engagement.
The practice of inclusion is ongoing, not a one-off training exercise. Inclusion requires individuals to identify key moments where they can build new habits or “micro-behaviours.” Micro-behaviours are daily actions that individuals can practise and measure.
One way to deliver these practices is to change cohorts within the organisation outside the executive or management level. It also involves equipping individuals with the skills and information to help them champion change within their departments, teams, and working groups.