Diversity & Employee Engagement

Recently, a group of well-known publications (Fortune, Essence, and People in Español) teamed up with Great Places to Work to release their first “50 Best Workplaces for Diversity” report, bringing more attention to the topic of diversity and inclusion (see their methodology and a full list of the results here). 

The report highlights companies who have made creating a culture of inclusiveness a priority. As Essence President Michelle Ebanks explains, “diversity is more than checking a box, it is a culture of inclusion. Good ideas can come from everywhere. Valuing diversity within the workplace better equips businesses to value diverse consumers, which directly translates to bottom line results.”


The link between a culture of diversity and bottom line results, we think, is employee engagement.


Employee Engagement and The Bottom Line

Employee engagement has a major impact on a company’s success. As recently as November 2015, Gallup estimated that only 32.1% of U.S. workers are engaged, which ends up costing companies $450 billion to $550 billion per year.


Conversely, the benefits of an engaged workforce include:

  • 22% higher profitability
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 10% higher customer engagement
  • 25%-60% lower turnover
  • 37% lower absenteeism

(source: Inc.com)


How does diversity and a culture of inclusion impact employee engagement, and therefore the bottom line?


Connecting Diversity, Inclusion, and Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has enjoyed much attention over the last few years, but diversity and inclusion have only recently re-emerged as important issues. A 2014 report from Deloitte revealed that in a list of 12 talent management trends, diversity and inclusion ranked last in perceived urgency, while retention and engagement ranked second, behind leadership.


In her article, “Diversity and Inclusion Drive Employee Engagement,” Dr. Rohini Anand writes:

“Research has shown that companies who disregard diversity as a component of their business strategy have a higher percentage of disengaged workers. Organizations that effectively capitalize on the strengths of all employees and leverage their differences and unique values have the most engaged employees.”


There are four key ways in which diversity and inclusion impact employee engagement.


  1. Recruiting

Increasing employee referrals is a top talent acquisition tactic that frequently provides the best hires. By not focusing on diversity and inclusion, employers limit the groups they interact with and therefore limit their talent sources. In doing so, companies also reduce their connection to communities and employees, causing disengagement.


However, expressing diversity in the hiring process can help attract talent that might otherwise feel uncertain about inclusiveness or cultural fit. Assuring top talent that they will be respected in your organization is necessary, and otherwise may be a deal-breaker.


  1. Internal Networking

Participation in diversity and inclusion programs, like business resource groups, helps to build strong internal networks that transcend organizational hierarchy, division silos, and other barriers to communication. Providing opportunities to form these relationships allows employees to feel more connected to their organizations, helping to increase engagement and lower voluntary turnover.


  1. Diversity of Thought

A company that is focused on diversity and inclusion also tends to create a culture of respect. A culture of respect is integral to the sharing of ideas, the understanding of cultural perspectives, and innovation. In fact, many job listings and diversity initiatives are now referred to as “diversity and innovation” positions or programs. Employees are more engaged when their thoughts and ideas are respected. They feel more connected to the company mission and can see the impact their presence has within the organization. As a value-add, having a variety of perspectives and viewpoints is critical to solving new and rapidly developing business problems in all types of industries.


  1. Retention

Simply put, companies with diversity initiatives are more engaged, and engaged employees stay longer. 


There are many ways to include diversity and inclusion initiatives in your organization.  Whether it is developing resource groups, mentoring programs, or diversity in suppliers, these programs can help keep your employees present, happy, and engaged.



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