What is Diversity & Inclusion (and why is it important)?

What is Diversity?

This is the degree of both visible and invisible differences in the makeup of the workforce.

It includes the characteristics protected by law. These are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • gender
  • sexual orientation

It also includes differences in socio-economic status, education, communication styles and fashion choices to name just a few examples.

What is Inclusion?

This refers to a state where people are made to feel included, valued and respected within a group or structure.

The Business Case for a diverse and inclusive work place

We know that the best workplaces are those that are diverse and inclusive.

This is not just because it is morally right and, in some cases, a legal requirement. It’s also the case that organisations that are diverse and inclusive are better equipped to face existing as well as emerging business challenges.

They will, for example, have access to a wider pool of applicants, and a more-motivated and engaged team of employees, leading to greater productivity. All of which are key enablers of delivering great customer service.

The increasing deficit between supply and demand for labour across the UK means being a diverse and inclusive employer is critical to the ability to attract and retain the employees required to meet customers’ needs.

Older People

By 2022, there will be a million more older workers in the workplace, and by 2030 half of all adults will be over 50.

However, if organisations are not attracting or retaining people from this group they are losing out on a significant amount of experience available to them.


In the UK, 1 in 8 workers are currently combining paid work with unpaid care responsibilities. Among these, two thirds are employed full time but are highly likely to feel they need to leave if they can’t work part time.

This is a turnover issue waiting to happen unless organisations re-think how they engage with, support and accommodate this group of people.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)

There are also persistent unemployment rate gaps amongst those of ethnic minority background, with some ethnic minority groups experiencing employment rates which are twice as high as their white counterparts.

New research suggests that 6% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) workers don’t feel they can be open about their sexual orientation at work.

This means employers are not getting the ‘whole’ person at work. It is also highly likely a person in this group eventually feels like leaving or suffers from workplace stress because of the pressure on them to not be themselves.

Over-qualified workers

The number of UK workers who are overqualified for their job has recently increased to around 2.5 million (or 8.7 per cent of the workforce).

These employees are being under-utilised and could probably give much more, so understanding why they are not in the right roles can overcome this waste.

Not in employment, education or training (NEETs)

At the end of 2017, approximately 11% of 16-24-year olds were not in employment, education or training. Quite often these people are finding they can’t get a job because employers are asking for experience they haven’t yet had the chance to gain.

By being more inclusive and less bias there is yet another pool of potential employees to draw upon.


People with autism have some very valuable skills which can be applied in the workplace.

For example, they might have very good attention to detail or be really good at sticking to routines and timetables, therefore likely to be very punctual and reliable. Despite this just 16% of the 700,000 autistic adults in the UK are in full time work (and that figure is only those who have a diagnosis).


Women are generally unrepresented in many of our organisations, and not just at a senior level, yet research indicates that many women tend to have higher qualifications than their male counterparts.

Exploring what it is about certain sectors or organisations that puts women off creates an opportunity to attract and retain from this pool of potential resource.

Improving diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are key strategic challenges for many organisations.

Addressing these could improve employer reputation. It could increase access to a wider pool of applicants, drive productivity and reduce employee turnover.

To do this, organisations first need to understand how diverse and inclusive they really are.

I recently created a Diversity and Inclusion Health Check for Alex Warner, CEO of Flash Forward (a company that supports transport and logistics businesses nationwide).

As far as we’re aware this is the first sector-specific service of its kind.

The health check will help Alex’s clients understand how diverse and inclusive they are. It also helps to identify actions to create a workplace where everyone feels truly valued and included.

If you’d like to know more about how I can help you, contact me at karen@KDHRSolutions.co.uk  for a chat.

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