An overview of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Sam Thompson
Sam Thompson
Updated October 9 2022
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Sam Thompson
Sam Thompson
Updated October 9 2022

The conversation around diversity and inclusion in the workplace has shifted over the years from “do we need to invest in diversity and inclusion” to “how can we create an inclusive workplace environment”. This is certainly an exciting shift. Fewer companies now debate the importance of having an inclusive workplace and instead are looking to further refine their understanding of what it means to be truly diverse and inclusive.


To put this into some perspective, LinkedIn found a 71% increase worldwide in D&I roles from 2015 to 2020. Breaking that down some, LinkedIn data showed in that same period “head of diversity” roles grew by 107%, “director of diversity” grew 75%, and “chief diversity officer” grew by 68%. If there was some debate on how to kickstart diversity and inclusion in the workplace, then we can infer from the above that many companies agree that it starts with management taking a proactive role in prioritizing cultural diversity in the workplace.


Why is there renewed focus on diversity and inclusion? It would be nice to conclude that companies have taken the moral high ground, that they have listened to their employees, reflected, and made the moral and ethical decision to invest in D&I regardless of any fallout. That may be true, but the fact is, diversity and inclusion in the workplace makes business sense. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (via the Washington Post) found that 79% of new graduates consider a diverse workforce as “very important” and a Mckinsey & Company report Diversity Wins affirms that gender and ethnically diverse companies outperform less diverse companies.


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What are diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Gallup defines diversity as “the traits and characteristics that make people unique” and inclusion as an “environment that makes people feel welcome, respected and valued”.


Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are a commitment to and the practice of hiring candidates and maintaining employees of unique human characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and physical abilities (diversity) and enabling them to be equally involved in and supported in all areas of the workplace (inclusion).


diversity and inclusion


The difference between diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand in creating an inclusive workplace but are different (and critical) components.


It’s important to understand that diversity alone does not make an inclusive workplace. Companies may hire candidates with a diverse set of characteristics, but if they aren’t represented in decision-making or provided opportunities in different areas of the business, then they haven’t really created an inclusive workplace environment.


Inclusion is a key principle in D&I which is why some are looking to change the order of things from D&I to I&D. Diversity for diversity’s sake may be nothing more than performative if companies fail to invest in inclusion. Inclusion specifically refers to ensuring that all employees are made part of the team and feel valued and respected.




Different types of diversity in the workplace

Diversity itself is diverse but we can typically categorize four main types of diversity in the workplace to help us further understand how to build and nurture an inclusive workplace environment. Diversity in the workplace types includes:


  • Internal diversity
  • External diversity
  • Organizational diversity
  • Worldview diversity


Let’s unpack what each of these means.


1. Internal diversity

Internal diversity refers to characteristics and traits that a person is born with. They did not choose these characteristics and do not have the ability to change them. These include characteristics such as:


– Race

– Ethnicity

– Age

– National origin

– Sexual orientation

– Cultural identity

– Assigned sex

– Gender identity

– Physical ability

– Mental ability

2. External diversity

External diversity refers to characteristics that a person does have some ability to change. Now, because they may be able to change these characteristics does not mean it is easily done or desired. External characteristics may even feel like internal characteristics for many people.


– Appearance

– Religious beliefs

– Personal interests

– Education

– Citizenship

– Location

– Familial status

– Relationship status

– Socioeconomic status

– Life experiences

3. Organizational diversity

Organizational diversity refers to the characteristics of the job functions of employees. As part of creating an inclusive workplace, it’s important to remember that every employee – regardless of their job function – is valuable and part of the company.


– Job function

– Location of work

– Management status

– Salary

– Seniority level

– Union affiliation

4. Worldview diversity

Though all characteristics of a person contribute to their worldview, it is important to consider how employees navigate the world. A major point of polarization in society today is political belief. Bringing people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs together helps companies navigate and succeed.


diversity and inclusion


The importance of diversity and inclusion

We’ll talk about the tangible benefits of diversity and inclusion below, but there are less measurable benefits that are incredibly important in an inclusive workplace. An inclusive workplace enhances an employee’s sense of belonging. They then have more engagement with the company and can invest more of their energy in the work that they do. It is morally and ethically important to provide equitable opportunities for employees of diverse backgrounds and there are tangible, business benefits to doing so.




Benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Let’s table the moral and ethical benefits of creating an inclusive workplace environment and instead focus on the ways that investing in diversity and inclusion can help companies achieve greater success.


More candidates to hire from

Looking beyond the standard candidate profile greatly increases the pool of possible candidates to fill available positions. By actively seeking candidates with diverse backgrounds such as age, ethnicity, culture, and even location, companies increase the opportunity for high-quality hires.


Additionally, by investing in diversity and inclusion, companies become more desirable places to work. CNBC found that 80% of workers want to work for companies that value diversity, equity, and inclusion. This aligns with the study referenced above where 79% of new graduates consider diversity in the workplace as very important.


Greater employee retention

Happy employees are fulfilled and included in decision-making as well as provided paths for possible advancement. These are the employees that stick around. Those that are not included, that feel left out of decision making, that are marginalized or ignored, are those most likely to look elsewhere for employment.


It has become increasingly difficult to find quality candidates for skilled positions. As such, more than any other time, it is critical to engage with current employees. Invest in employees. Provide them opportunities to join the conversation and clarify how they can develop in their career.


An inclusive workplace builds trust between employees and employers. Employees that trust their company are more likely to give their best efforts and are more likely to stay. Deloitte found that employees that trust their organization are 87% less likely to leave.


Innovation and improved decision-making

Diversity and inclusion lead to better decision-making and is a boon to creativity and innovation. The Wall Street Journal (via Forbes) confirmed what has been reported elsewhere that more diversity boosts innovation.


Diverse groups can draw upon a rich set of information, knowledge, and experience that is unique to their internal and external characteristics, organizational function, and worldview. A diverse group can help teams break through the echo chamber that can occur among tightly bound, homogenous groups of similar backgrounds.


Higher performance

Investing in D&I means bringing in diverse employees that can innovate and make better group decisions. Employees are included and their value is made clear to them by their management teams. This builds employee trust so that employees want to stay and grow within the company. Happy employees perform better. Companies that invest in D&I are more trusted and seen as more desirable places to work. Altogether, this contributes to the fact that diverse companies perform better than those that are not.


Mckinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity financially outperform those in the bottom quartile by 25%. The report also finds that companies in the top quartile of ethnic diversity financially outperform the bottom quartile by 36%.


diversity and inclusion


Kaltura as a solution to manage diversity and inclusion

As a company, Kaltura has long championed diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Kaltura leads initiatives to combat gender inequality in technology with a mission to reach a 50:50 split in leadership and all organizational positions. Kaltura products are designed to support users of all abilities with a commitment to meet the strict standards of accessibility organizations require today. As a video platform, Kaltura Video Cloud for Education and Enterprise helps organizations provide opportunities for growth and learning, provides tools to build and nurture community regardless of location, and unlocks the power of live, real-time, and on-demand video with the power of interactivity and REACH.




Final thoughts

Over the last couple of years, we’ve been talking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace in many different ways:


  • D&I or diversity and inclusion
  • DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • DEIB diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging


The conversation evolves. Including belonging really gets to the heart of things. Every employee, regardless of their background, belongs and is valued.


Very often, conversations around these concepts are difficult. It almost seems that at every corner we may say things we don’t mean or apply unintended biases that leave people marginalized. Committing to creating an inclusive work environment is committing to having conversations and trying to make a better place for all. There will be missteps and mistakes. However, transparency and openness, including groups of diverse backgrounds in the conversation and decision-making processes is a step in the right direction.