The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

We live in a big world. Diversity and inclusion can be found in businesses throughout metropolitan, urban and rural areas, but certain industries tend to be more multi-faceted than others. This can be seen in the assortment of race, gender, culture, language or differentiated thinking among employees in each sector, and it brings to light the necessity of diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace.

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, diversity is defined as:

“the condition of having or being composed of differing elements: VARIETY; especially: the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.  An instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities”
 

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

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Inclusion is an important part of diversity’s definition because it reminds us to surround ourselves with a variety of people who bring new thoughts, ideas, values, and concepts to a company. The same goes for the work environment - companies should want to be inclusive, not because some law is saying they must be, but because it can benefit the entire organization by thinking outside the current box.

Many companies attempt to be diverse in their workforce because they are required to be compliant under Affirmative Action or the Equal Opportunities Act, but many others do so because they understand that diverse and inclusive hiring will benefit their company.  Companies want to recruit and retain top talent. To do that they should be looking at the entire pool of qualified candidates and hire the best person, regardless of race, gender identity, culture or age.  While the “Good Ole Boys Club” still exists in some corporations, it’s rightfully becoming a thing of the past, with diverse management teams proving to be more effective and profitable.  

 

Where Do Industries Stand in Terms of Diversity and Inclusion?

At first review, the tech industry appears to be strong in age diversity because the United States has historically been in the lead for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and this helped propel younger employees into the industry. Current students/future workers have shown a decreased interest in studying these disciplines, however, and as a whole the tech industry has been deficient when it comes to hiring diversified staff. Additionally, the selection of outsourced workers and laborers for this industry can be less expensive for companies, but when these workers are located off-site and away from other employees and executives, inclusion is nonexistent as they typically don't have the opportunities or benefits as U.S. based employees.

The financial services industry, always known for its high inclusion of males in senior positions, is thankfully becoming more diverse. With mentoring programs such as the Girls Who Invest initiative, women are rising up the corporate ladder and shattering the glass ceiling.

The food services industry is diverse mainly thanks to the low barrier to entry and the fact that people are willing to work for lower pay. This industry also pulls from a diverse age range as well, as it can be a flexible job for everyone from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. Employing younger workers, in the early stages of their working career, can only benefit these generations to think more inclusively with their future projects.

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The medical field has drastically become more diverse in the 21st century, but while almost 80 percent of the healthcare industry is female, a much smaller number of them have been promoted to the C-suite. Additionally, minorities are under-represented in the healthcare industry and represent a small percentage of its executive level.

Unfortunately, the construction industry is not very diverse at all - while a few companies are women- or minority-owned, this does not reflect the majority of the industry. The good news is that the construction industry is taking more proactive steps to include women, much like the financial services industry does, with programs such as the National Association of Women in Construction.

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Lack of diversity in the film and television industry is no longer a secret, particularly thanks to well-publicized discussion in the past year. With a select few holding the bulk of the power in Hollywood, diverse and talented actors, producers and film crew staff are now proving their importance, and need for inclusion, to the industry.

So which industries are the most diverse? Honestly, while there are very inclusive companies in all industry sectors, there does not appear to be one industry that is leaps and bounds above the others.  Industry leaders should take note that as our world becomes even more diverse, incorporating diverse and inclusive hiring and retention practices into your company can be beneficial in many ways and help add to profits in the long run.

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