Millennials Understand the Value of Inclusivity in the Workplace - Do You?

Ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just a legal and moral responsibility – it’s essential for staying competitive.

Do You Understand the Value of Inclusivity in the Workplace?

Ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just a legal and moral responsibility – it’s essential for staying competitive.

Millennials are famously thought to be more open minded than those who came before them – and some new research from the US supports that theory.

A study by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) looked to quantify the perceived differences between millennials and older generations in terms of their attitudes towards diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace. Unsurprisingly, the data shows that the two groups treat this crucial aspect of HR in fundamentally different ways.

D&I, Cognitive Diversity, and Engagement

Whereas older employees tend to view D&I as being a moral ideal at best and a legal obligation at worst, millennials are more likely to see a diverse workplace as a sign of strength. The younger set’s version of diversity is participatory and integral, and they consider the unique identities and experiences of individuals as one essential part of a whole working team.

When it’s put into practice, this outlook is known as cognitive diversity, as Fast Company explains. According to Helen Mayson of ILM, a team can boost its effectiveness and resilience by having the right balance/variety of members. While a homogenous team might initially seem as though it’s naturally harmonious, they are more vulnerable to unexpected obstacles in the work process and creative stagnation.

It’s fairly simple: encouraging diverse thought encourages innovation. Research by McKinsey found that 15% of companies in the top gender diversity quartile financially outperform those in the bottom quartile, while 35% of the most ethnically diverse companies financially outperform the least. Achieving cognitive diversity by prioritising D&I isn’t just the right thing to do: it’s good for business as well.

And when it comes to D&I and millennials, there’s more to it than the bottom line: an organisation’s diversity is a major factor in how young people rate their job satisfaction. The Deloitte/BJKLI study revealed that 83% of millennials are more likely to actively engage with an organisation they feel fosters an inclusive culture, compared to only 60% who perceive their culture as non-inclusive.

Considering the direct effect that personnel engagement has on a company’s success, it’s clear that inclusivity is a key component of future corporate success and growth. Organisations that ignore this aspect of their corporate culture will not retain the current generation’s top workers, and certainly won’t have a chance to hire those of the next.

How To Achieve A Diverse And Inclusive Workplace

While having a clear non-discrimination policy is a good start to building an inclusive work environment, discrimination is insidious, and can often be an unconscious phenomenon. A proactive approach is required to make the big institutional changes.

Focusing on workplace inclusivity from the ground up by using data analysis techniques ensures your hiring procedure remains fair and objective. The practise of blind auditions in symphony orchestras clearly shows that where hiring procedure relies on subjective opinion, discrimination can easily creep in: Harvard Kennedy School found that 30% more female musicians were hired when judges were unable to see the performers during their auditions.

Additionally, it’s important not to conflate diversity and inclusion, as Forbes emphasises. It’s not enough to simply construct a diverse team and expect inclusivity to naturally follow – you must work with employees to help them develop a mindset of inclusion. Without this process, a diverse team can find themselves getting annoyed by their differences rather than harnessing them to innovate and achieve. Organisations need to build teams that work well together from the ground up.

The Right Tools

Using hiring software that encodes candidate attributes in the form of metrics enables decision-makers to evaluate a candidate purely on their merits, rather than their social or ethnic background. Video recruitment software also allows candidates to apply from anywhere in the world, removing location-based discrimination from the equation completely.

Constructing a team of diverse thinkers requires some extra thought on how to overcome unrealised bias, but with the right tools and mindset, it’s a goal that’s very attainable.

(Main image credit: Anna Vander Stel/Unsplash)