8 examples of diversity in the workplace that your company should be thinking about

Building a workplace that's truly diverse and inclusive is key to your company's success. In this article, we'll look at some of the different types of diversity you can find in the workplace and show you how they will benefit your people and your company.

min read

Celebrating and nurturing diversity creates inclusive cultures where people feel happy and safe, and know their unique identity and viewpoint will be valued. From ethnicity and gender to age and cultural background, diversity comes in many forms and brings many perspectives to the workplace.

At Fertifa, we know that diverse perspectives make us stronger and we hope other companies understand this about their workplaces too.

This article will look at the different types of workplace diversity, explore the benefits for your company, and share effective strategies for cultivating an inclusive and diverse workforce.

What do we mean when we say diversity

Diversity is a very broad term that encompasses many different meanings. To us, diversity in the workplace is about every individual having a unique set of characteristics and life experiences that contribute to a workforce that's made up of lots of different perspectives. We strongly encourage managers and HR Teams to remember this and to avoid oversimplifying and categorising people into the more basic or simplified types of diversity.

Here are some of the most used terms you may have come across when researching or thinking about diversity in the workplace. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but this is a good starting point for you to refer to and consider and to understand key terminology:

  • Gender diversity - Gender is a social construct that is different from a person's biological sex. You may find a range of gender identities at your company and it's important to remember what they are and to respect each person's gender identity, regardless of what it is.
  • Racial or ethnic diversity - This means providing equal rights and opportunities for all workers, including those from minorities and underrepresented groups.
  • Age diversity - This is the acceptance of employees of different ages in the workplace.
  • Sexual orientation and marital status - This involves fostering an environment where all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or relationship status, feel valued and respected.
  • Cultural diversity - Cultural diversity is the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a workplace.
  • Religious diversity - Religious diversity is people having differences in religious belief and practice.
  • Disability diversity - Disability diversity refers to people having different disabilities in terms of their physical appearance, cognitive and social emotional disabilities.
  • Parental status - Take a look at our parental leave and fertility policy guides for more on this specifically.
  • Physical ability - Physical ability refers to someone's physical capabilities and limitations and considers factors like mobility and health conditions.
  • Physical disability - A physical disability is a condition that limits someone's physical capabilities and potentially impacts their ability to perform certain tasks.
  • Socioeconomic status and educational background - Socioeconomic status (SES) refers to someone's social and economic circumstances. It has long determined individuals access to opportunity and maintained an inequality in our society, particularly in the workforce. We encourage employers to acknowledge the limitations someone's socioeconomic status can create, and incorporate diverse SESs into inclusion strategies to help make sure everyone is being afforded the same opportunities at work.
  • Organisational or functional diversity - Functional diversity refers to job function, work location or seniority.
  • External diversity - External diversity refers to visible or easily identifiable characteristics such as race and age.

8 examples of diversity you should be thinking about as an HR team

There’s so much more to promoting workplace diversity than just 'ticking the boxes'. At Fertifa, we believe a truly diverse and inclusive workplace culture exhibits those values through its practices and actions.

There are several different ways to incorporate diversity and inclusion into your company’s practices. Although most of these should be standard company practice, we’ve created a list of a few key areas that we know can have a considerable and positive impact in the workplace. If there are any others you'd like to highlight for us to add in, get in touch at enquiries@fertifa.com. We'd love to hear from you.

1. Use inclusive language

By using inclusive language in the workplace, you’re acknowledging and showing that you value people’s individuality, how they identify, and the ways they want to be seen. At the end of the day, people just want to be recognised for who they are, and language that excludes certain people will continue to prevent that from being the case.

We understand it can be hard to know exactly what to say and how to address colleagues even if you have good intentions at heart. That’s why we’ve put together a list of “do’s & don’ts” that you can refer to when you’re unsure.

Try to avoid language that:

  • Reinforces stereotypes
  • Patronises certain groups of people
  • Excludes certain groups – for example, by assuming heterosexuality is the “norm”
  • Causes offence or discomfort – for example, avoid words such as ‘elderly’, ‘aged’, and ‘senior’ and use more neutral language such as ‘older people’
  • Groups together minority groups – “the disabled,” “BAME people” and so on…

Do use language that:

  • Acknowledges diversity
  • Includes welcoming words, phrases and expressions
  • Avoids assumptions that may exclude people – for example, use carer, guardian, parent, or caregiver to avoid assumptions about biological parents
  • Respects people’s privacy to share information about themselves if and when they feel comfortable doing so
  • Recognises the individual lived experiences within groups

You can’t be expected to get everything 100% right straight away. So long as you are making a genuine effort to be respectful with the language you use and encourage others to adopt, with the help of guidelines like the one above, you’ll be well on your way to normalising inclusive language in your workplace, and helping make sure every employee feels recognised, valued, and included.

For more examples of what language is inclusive and what isn't, take a look at this article published by Work Human.

2. Accommodate cultural and religious practices

Religious and cultural diversity in the workplace is a wonderful thing. People from different backgrounds can learn from, educate, and even inspire one another by teaching others about their cultures, spiritual beliefs and ways of living.

It’s important that cultural or religious beliefs and practices are viewed equally and that some do not get overlooked. To help ensure this is the case, you’ll need to make accommodations for employees’ different practices. This list offers some useful and effective tips on how you can do that.

  • Allow leave for religious holidays that do not come out of employees’ annual leave allowance
  • Allocate a safe and quiet space in the office for those who pray during the day
  • Be tough on religious or cultural bias as well as discrimination
  • Understand how current affairs can cause discomfort in the workplace. Unfortunately, things can happen outside your company’s control that can create issues in your workforce. It's important to be prepared if this does happen.
  • Allow your employees to educate each other! This can be particularly valuable for employees from minority cultural backgrounds that may be unknown or unfamiliar to others. Providing a platform for people who want to share (perhaps in the lead-up to an important holiday) is a great way to bridge gaps, cultivate an understanding of different ways of living or spiritual beliefs, and help individuals feel that they and their cultures are appreciated and understood.
  • Celebrate holidays as a team. We know celebrating every religious or cultural holiday as a team is probably unrealistic (and expensive), but doing so occasionally can enhance employee morale, strengthen relationships, expose employees to exciting new cultures, and celebrate with those for whom the holidays are important.

3. Implement practices that support racial diversity in the workplace

There are many effective and proven options for anyone looking to promote racial and ethnic diversity in the workplace. Here are some examples of changes to consider and diversity initiatives you can put in place to do so:

Anonymous hiring: The hiring process should always allow for a level playing field that judges people on merit and character. Putting in place an anonymous hiring process is a useful way of ensuring racial biases don’t affect a candidate’s chances of being hired. By removing photos, names, gender and any information that might provoke bias from applications, you can make sure candidates are assessed fairly.

Diversity training and education: EW group, Equality and Diversity UK and The Diversity Trust all offer excellent diversity training for managers.

Diverse representation in leadership: Diversity among your management team should also be part of your inclusion strategy. Promoting people and women from ethnic backgrounds and ensuring that they are in key leadership positions within your organisation will have a huge knock-on effect on your wider workforce and your hiring strategy too.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Employee Resource Groups are employee-led and designed to bring together people who share common characteristics, interests, or backgrounds such as ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. ERGs for employees of different racial backgrounds can be a great way to allow them to connect, share life experiences, and provide support to one another. Please take a look at this guide published by Together for more detail on the benefits of ERGs and advice on how to go about setting one up.

Open communication: We believe that creating a culture of open and transparent communication where employees feel comfortable sharing is important for so many reasons. Among the many positive impacts open communication can have is enabling people from certain groups to share their concerns, particular needs, and views on how they are being represented at work.

Addressing discrimination: Sadly, racial discrimination continues to feature in some workplaces. Encourage employees to speak up and report upsetting or offensive incidents and reassure them that any complaints will be taken with the utmost seriousness. Make it easy for an employee to report discrimination by clearly highlighting how they can do this and the process to follow.

4. Offering flexible or hybrid working

Many of us are enjoying the perks of flexible work setups these days. Flexible arrangements aren't just about striking a better work-life balance; they also play a crucial role in upholding diversity in the workplace. By catering to diverse employee needs, flexibility keeps our workforce vibrant and inclusive. Let's explore a couple of examples to illustrate this point:

  • Someone has a particular disability that makes commuting to the office challenging and a health risk. Without flexible working arrangements, they’ll feel pressured to make that journey daily, putting their physical and mental health at risk. Safe to say, they’re unlikely to feel genuinely happy in their role or produce their best work.
  • Another employee’s religion means they pray at various points throughout the day. Without either the option to work from home or a designated space to pray in, they won’t be able to accommodate their religious practices into their working schedule.

5. Make use of your policies

A Harvard Business Review survey found that 75% of respondents found that superficial policies and language were insufficient to truly institute real change.

At Fertifa, we believe in the power of policies to affect positive change and maintain standards. They can also be a great tool when promoting and championing diversity in the workplace. Remember, putting policies in place aren't just a tick-box exercise, and need to be see as part of a wider strategy to support employees and create an inclusive workplace.

Here are some policies you may want to consider drafting that help create and maintain a diverse and inclusive environment in the workplace (we've also added some links to our policy writing guides in case you need some guidance!):

  • Diversity and inclusion policy: A diversity and inclusion policy is a direct but effective way of outlining an organisation's commitment to diversity and creating an inclusive culture. Ensure that the policy addresses various aspects of diversity including race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, disability, educational background, and more.
  • Fertility policy
  • Menopause policy
  • Sickness leave policy: We recommend this covers physical and mental health-related absence
  • Parental leave policy
  • Recruitment and hiring policies: Review recruitment and hiring policies to make sure they promote diversity and mitigate unconscious racial, cultural, and gender bias. If you're looking to increase the representation of marginalised groups in the hiring process, you can implement strategies such as diverse candidate sourcing, structured interviews, and blind CV screening.

6. Diversity and cultural sensitivity training programmes for managers

The way managers deal with diversity and inclusion in the workplace sets an example for their teams to follow. With this in mind, we believe it’s important they take a positive and proactive approach to promote diversity in the workplace. Manager training is a great way to help ensure this happens.

There are lots of great training programmes out there that managers can benefit from. Here are some we recommend at Fertifa:

  • Cultural Awareness Training UK - structured, practical guidance to help people navigate the complexities of today's diverse global business landscape
  • Training with Diverse Minds - team building, wellbeing and leadership, all with the underpinning principles of equality, diversity and inclusion
  • The Diversity Trust - diversity and inclusion specialist training
  • Diversity and inclusion training courses by ACAS - ACAS also offer useful advice on how to implement inclusion initiatives
  • Intercultural competence training with Diversiti UK

7. Give Donut a go 🍩

Donut is a great way to build trust between employees and boost morale by prompting employees to pair up and get to know one another. If you're keen on promoting diversity and strengthening relationships within your team, we definitely recommend you give it a shot (it’s free too). We've just started it at Fertifa and we can confirm that there are lots of donuts and coffees being had each week.

8. Encourage feedback and be adaptable to change

The best way to truly understand your workplace culture is by listening to employees. We encourage all managers and HR teams to invite feedback, thoughts, observations, and ideas on how to create a more inclusive workplace culture that respects and celebrates diversity among employees.

How you want to invite feedback is entirely up to you. Whether it’s through anonymous surveys, one-to-one meetings, focus groups, suggestion channels, exit interviews or Employee Resource Groups, giving employees a platform to share their experiences and suggestions can only be beneficial to creating positive workplace cultures.

Here are just some of the benefits of encouraging regular feedback:

  1. Promoting inclusivity: Encouraging feedback can help create a culture where all employees feel heard and comfortable sharing perspectives, experiences, and ideas.
  2. Raising awareness of bias: Feedback will help shed light on any biases or unequal treatment that may exist at your company. It’s never nice to discover these sorts of things are occurring, but it’s important to be aware if they are so you can get started on tackling them.
  3. Identifying areas for improvement: Ask for feedback on as many different aspects as you can such as policies, practices, and programmes. Your employees will likely have valuable insights and suggestions for improvement that may not have occurred to you – so keep on welcoming feedback with open arms!
  4. Empowering your employees: Inviting feedback will give your workforce a voice, and acting on that feedback shows them that you care about their thoughts and feelings. They’ll feel like they can have an influence and make a positive impact.
  5. Employer accountability: Are you delivering on your diversity and inclusion promises? Asking your employees is the best way to find out whether or not you're meeting your workplace diversity goals.

Want to create a feedback survey?

If you’re after ideas on what to ask in your survey, this list by Survey Sparrow is a great place to start. 

Remember, the examples of diversity we've explored above are just some of the many you can see in the workplace. We hope this article has given you an idea of just how wonderful and beneficial practising diversity in the workplace can be!

If you would like to know more about anything mentioned above, or you'd like to discover how Fertifa helps build diverse and inclusive workplaces, please don't hesitate to get in touch - we're always here to help!