Understanding workplace diversity and inclusion

Most employers in California understand that employment discrimination is illegal. If an employer intentionally denies jobs and opportunities to people from a certain race, gender or age group, the employer could get into big trouble. However, even when employers are aware of anti-discrimination laws, they may not have a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Diversity and inclusion: What they mean

Diversity and inclusion are two distinct concepts that work together to create a happier work environment for everyone. By understanding and implementing these two concepts, employers can avoid “tokenism,” or the practice of hiring people from a certain group just so that a company can appear diverse.

In a work setting, diversity refers to the representation of all different groups. This could mean having workers of different ages, religions, races and genders working in the various departments.

Inclusion refers to how valued a diverse staff is and how much it is allowed to contribute. When an employer engages in tokenism, it may do something like hire a lot of disabled workers for one department but not offer those workers any opportunities for advancement. An inclusive workplace provides equal opportunities to a diverse staff.

Why are diversity and inclusion important?

A diverse and inclusive workplace has other benefits to an employer besides avoiding discrimination complaints. There is research showing that diverse and inclusive workplaces have more highly motivated employees, better employee retention and more innovation.

Individuals who work for a diverse and inclusive company feel more job stability, and they are happier going to work. Implementing the concepts of diversity and inclusion can also help employers attract future workers from a larger talent pool.

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