Diversity in the workplace: What is it and why does it matter?

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Businesses in Ireland have a duty to promote diversity, equality, and inclusion throughout their company. As an employee, you may value these aspects and make them a priority in your job search.

After all, if opportunities are only reserved for a select few, this can limit your potential growth. Asking for your place of work to value every voice, regardless of their background makes for a better work environment all together.

In this article, we’re taking a deeper look at diversity in the workplace. We’ll look at what this means for employees and how you can be a DEI advocate ensuring opportunities are offered fairly to all team members.

Understanding diversity in the workplace

When we talk about diversity in the workplace, it’s easy to jump straight to demographics like race, gender, and age. But, diversity goes a lot deeper than many realise. 

Characteristics that may not initially spring to mind make up diversity, including things like socio-economic status, education, sexual orientation, and even thought processes.

Ireland is no stranger to a diverse workforce. As the country attracts the worlds’ leading businesses across many industries, so too does it attract talented people from all backgrounds.

Embracing inclusion

Inclusion is often what businesses strive for when they say ‘it’s like a family here,’ although this isn’t always the case. In the world of work, inclusion is a sense of belonging to your place of business regardless of your background.

Inclusion and diversity are like two sides of the same coin. If you run a business that covets diversity then creating an inclusive environment should be a top priority. This means valuing people for their experiences and world views, making sure they feel valued and respected, and offering everyone the same opportunities to contribute.

Why diversity matters: Benefits for jobseekers and organisations

Diversity in the workplace isn’t something HR teams insist on to meet a quota, there are real benefits to both jobseekers and organisations. 

Below are some of the reasons diversity is a net positive to the workplace: 

Enhanced innovation and creativity

When your entire workforce comes from the same background, drawing on the same experiences, and thinks in the same way, growth can stagnate. It’s all a bit dull.

A more diverse workforce brings in people with a wide range of different backgrounds and experiences which can prove valuable in bringing unique perspectives, ideas and problem-solving approaches to the table.

In fact, Peter Brabazon, CEO at Specialisterne Ireland believes neurodiverse teams are more productive.

“Neurodivergent people experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways and can be a valuable asset to a company, with research showing that teams with neurodiverse members are more productive.” – Peter Brabazon

Improved decision-making and performance

Every day decisions are being made in the hopes of driving growth and revenue. With a more diverse team, there’s more experience to draw upon. This can lead to faster, more efficient decision making and makes the company more competitive as a whole.

Team members may be able to spot pitfalls before they happen, or suggest improvements that lead to cost savings or productivity increases. If every member of the team is a copy and paste of each other, breakthroughs like these are less likely.

Personal and professional growth

For jobseekers, a diverse workplace exposes them  to many new ideas, cultures, and ways of thinking. This creates an environment that challenges people and leads to learning and professional development. It’s an opportunity to step out of the comfort zone, challenge any preconceptions, and upskill alongside the team

For organisations, encouraging diverse applications means you can access a wider range of skilled and talented workers. They bring with them useful experiences that can inform your approach to business going forward. Unique insights and experiences help to propel a company forward.

Promoting diversity and inclusion in your workplace

Here in Ireland, where global businesses thrive alongside homegrown enterprises, the need for diverse and inclusive workplaces has never been more pronounced. 

Advocating for inclusion

Advocating for inclusion needs to happen at every level from the C-Suite and business owners down to the hiring managers and team members. Here’s how you can speak up and start advocating for inclusion at work:

  • Be vocal about your needs: Whether you’re a job seeker or a current employee, don’t shy away from expressing your needs and how they relate to diversity and inclusion. Speak up for policies and practices that support diverse needs, from flexible working hours to inclusive health benefits.
  • Build allies: Diversity and inclusion efforts are most successful when they’re a collective endeavor. Look for allies among your colleagues who share your commitment to creating a more inclusive environment.
  • Participate in DEI initiatives: Many organizations have diversity and inclusion committees or groups focused on specific aspects of diversity, such as gender, ethnicity, or LGBTQ+ issues. Join these groups, or better yet, take a lead in starting one if it doesn’t exist.
  • Support diversity initiatives: Whether it’s attending events, participating in training, or simply celebrating diversity through cultural days, show your support for diversity initiatives. Your participation not only enriches your understanding but also signals to others the value of these efforts.
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion is not a one-off occasion, but an ongoing effort. Stay up-to-date with news about diversity and how to create a more inclusive work environment.
  • Visit Recruit Ireland’s advice centre for the information about diversity and inclusion strategies from Ireland’s leading professionals.

Navigating your career path: Tips to finding diverse and inclusive workplaces

Businesses have access to a global workforce like never before. As more companies take their businesses online, they’re met with a wealth of tools and services to take them worldwide.

A recent study found 58% of employees found diversity to be one of the top benefits of a global workforce.

This means there are more opportunities for Ireland’s graduates and workforce to find the opportunities they want. Whether you want to look for a company close to home or a remote opportunity for a multinational based somewhere else, one thing remains important–finding somewhere that values diversity and inclusion.

Here’s how you can navigate your way towards such workplaces.

Researching companies

The first step is to properly research and vet companies to see what their diversity and inclusion is really like. Here’s how:

  • Company website and social media: Start with the company’s website. Look for a dedicated DEI section that outlines their policies, initiatives, and any awards or recognitions they’ve received for their efforts. This can give you a clear picture of how seriously they take diversity and inclusion.
  • Employee reviews: Pay attention to mentions of diversity and inclusion, how conflicts are resolved, and whether employees feel valued and heard. While it’s important to read these reviews critically, they can offer a more nuanced view of the company’s internal workings.
  • Network and ask around: If you have connections who work or have worked at the company, reach out to them. First-hand accounts are invaluable. Ask about their experiences with the company’s DEI efforts, and whether they feel these initiatives are genuinely implemented or just for show.

After doing some research, apply to the positions that both excite you and reassure you. You might also consider mentioning any specific diversity initiatives in a cover letter to explain what attracts you to the company.

Asking the right questions during interviews

If an opportunity for a job interview arises, this presents an excellent opportunity to dig deeper into DEI. Here are some things to put forward at the interview stage:

  • DEI initiatives: During the interview, ask specific questions about the company’s DEI initiatives. For example, “Can you tell me about some of the diversity and inclusion initiatives the company has implemented in the past year?” This not only shows your interest in the company’s culture but also gives the interviewer a chance to provide concrete examples.
  • Support structures: Inquire about support structures, such as employee resource groups, mentorship programs, and training opportunities. Questions like, “What kind of support does the company offer for underrepresented employees?” can reveal a lot about how the company nurtures an inclusive environment.
  • Feedback and growth: Ask about the company’s approach to feedback and how it fosters personal and professional growth across diverse groups. For instance, “How does the company handle feedback regarding diversity and inclusion, and can you give an example of how this feedback led to change?” This question can help you gauge the company’s responsiveness and commitment to continuous improvement in DEI.

Job seekers in Ireland have a lot of career options from local startups to executive jobs at  large multinational companies. D&I initiatives will vary from business to business but being proactive about this during your job hunt can help weed out the opportunities that aren’t a match for your expectations.

Recruit Ireland: Your partner in a diverse career journey

Make your first steps into a new career by heading to the Recruit Ireland Job Board where companies across Ireland list their opportunities. Job postings often contain information about diversity and inclusion initiatives, so this is a great first step to vetting potential employers.

Want to learn more about diversity and inclusion as a whole? 

Recruit Ireland’s advice centre is filled with information about the subject, including interviews with leading experts. Head over today to start finding out more about diversity today.


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