diversity at work

Equal opportunities at work: The importance of diversity in the workplace

Workplace diversity is more important than ever. Not only does it benefit the workplace, but it has positive impacts on society as well. Increasingly, employees are coming to expect that their employers will champion diversity and inclusion.

If your workforce is not diverse, you will be left behind.

Hays and Michael Page explain why diversity is essential and how to increase it in the workplace.

Let’s start by exploring some of the key terms.


Diversity refers to the unique characteristics of each individual. Diversity can be made up of numerous factors including, race, age, gender, disability, sexuality, religious beliefs and educational background. A diverse workplace will recognise, value and celebrate these differences.


The principle of equity is based on the idea that everyone has equal access to opportunities regardless of their background and physical abilities. Equity is about addressing barriers that certain groups face and tailoring strategies to level the playing field.


In an inclusive environment, everyone feels valued, heard and empowered regardless of their background. To be truly inclusive, a workplace will include those from various backgrounds in decision making processes.


Societal benefits

Increasing diversity in the workplace brings many benefits to society.

Fairness and justice

Promoting diversity in the workplace helps everyone receive access to the same opportunities. It also ensures people from all backgrounds receive respect and recognition. 

Promotes understanding

If work environments are diverse and inclusive and people have a greater understanding of differences, this creates a more harmonious and cohesive society.

Increases empathy

Being part of a diverse workforce can increase employees’ empathy, understanding and mutual respect.

Dismantles prejudices

The more diverse a workplace is, the more preconceived ideas and biases will be challenged. 


Workplace benefits

A diverse workforce can also provide many benefits to workplaces. 

Enhanced innovation and creativity

Diverse teams are better problem solvers. People with different backgrounds and life experiences help provide new perspectives and ways of thinking.

Improved  performance

When everyone feels valued, performance skyrockets. Those who believe their workplace is inclusive are more likely to be engaged. Inclusive workplaces are also more likely to retain quality talent.

Better decision making

Research has shown that diverse workplaces make better decisions.

Reflects global market

A diverse workforce is better equipped to deal with the various needs of clients and customers.

Attracts good talent

85% of employees say they are more likely to stay with an organisation that values diversity.

Improve financial performance

Several studies have illustrated that diverse workplaces are more likely to financially outperform less diverse workplaces. 

Bigger pool of candidates

If you are open to diversity when hiring, you will increase the range of candidates you have to choose from. You open yourself up to a pool of potentially highly skilled, qualified candidates who may not have previously been considered.



Unfortunately, there are several barriers to achieving diversity in the workplace.

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias refers to the unintended negative stereotypes or attitudes individuals have against certain groups of people. Unconscious bias can lead to discrimination and exclusion.

Lack of awareness and education

People may not understand how their behaviours contribute to inequality. Without awareness, it can be challenging to create an inclusive workplace culture.

Systemic barriers

People from diverse backgrounds may lack access to education. Therefore, they are less likely to have the skills or experience needed for a role. 

Resistance to change

Some employees may resist workplace changes designed to promote diversity. A reluctance to change can slow down the implementation of new initiatives.


Becoming aware of these barriers allows employers to develop strategies to encourage greater diversity in their workforce.

All employers should take steps to maximise diversity because diversity in the workplace is no longer ideal; it is expected.

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