Diversity in the Workplace: A Complete Transformation

CoachHub · 6 July 2022 · 5 min read

In our blog post on diversity versus inclusion, we went over the differences between diversity and inclusion. Diversity refers to all the individual characteristics that make an individual unique. Inclusion is about making everyone feel welcome and supported, regardless of their differences. This can include visible and invisible traits, such as skin color, gender, body type, beliefs, personality, communication style and socio-economic status.

“Diversity does not mean inclusion,” says CoachHub coach Kaveh Mir “Sometimes we have diversity around the table but not inclusion. Diversity means we have everyone around the table. Inclusion means that everyone feels safe to speak.” Organizations can have one without the other to disastrous effect and should instead work to combine the two.

But how can organizations transform from homogeneity to a culture that actively encourages and incorporates diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace? In this blog post, we’ll go over the meaning of concepts such as belongingness and uniqueness and how coaching can help individual firms develop and/or improve on their own company cultures, including diversity in the workplace.

What are belongingness and uniqueness?

Creating an inclusive culture that also embraces diversity in the workplace doesn’t end with the practices of integrating the philosophies of diversity and inclusion and a diversity training or two. Instead, companies must adapt, embrace and foster methods that help create a sense of belongingness and uniqueness in their workforce, so all employees feel included. What does that mean?

What is belongingness in the workplace?

Psychologist Carl R. Rogers defines belonging as the desire for connection with others and a need for positive regard and interpersonal connection. He also claims that it comes from the individual’s perception of the meaning, quality and satisfaction with their social connections, and not from their participation with or proximity to other individuals and groups. When employers fail to create a sense of belonging for their employees, it leads to a significant number of them feeling isolated—as many as 40%.

An organization with isolated workers won’t achieve success when it comes to its diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) programs. Regardless of how inclusive or diverse a firm’s leadership believes their culture to be, isolated employees don’t feel or foster an overall sense of inclusion.

What is uniqueness in the workplace?

No individual is solely defined by one characteristic alone. People crave recognition and acceptance for their individual experiences, values, backgrounds, skills, ambitions, etc.

What tends to occur in many organizations is the propensity to lock individuals into groups based on one characteristic, e.g., race, skin color, cultural background, etc. However, doing that means the employer overlooks everything else that makes a worker unique, because no employee falls neatly into just one category. Failure to recognize that employees can have complex identities and backgrounds will ultimately damage a business’s DE&I efforts. Conversely, when companies truly understand and embrace the uniqueness of each employee, their workers will feel valued, heard and included as individuals.

Belongingness and uniqueness in the workplace

There are many benefits to ensuring your organization is diverse and inclusive, such as increases in innovation and revenue and better decision-making. However, if diversity is prized but inclusion is ignored, misunderstood or forgotten, there can be more conflict and a tendency toward groupthink. These negative phenomena can limit an organization’s efficiency and hamper its ability to develop new projects and ideas.

To minimize conflict and resistance to new ideas and new ways of thinking, organizations should create a company culture where all individuals feel they belong and that leaders and colleagues see and value their unique perspectives.

Besides innovation and a reduction in conflict, the benefits of a company culture of belongingness and uniqueness also include:

  • High-quality relationships between group members
  • A sense of psychological safety
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • High intention to stay with the company
  • Improved job performance
  • A rise in organizational citizenship and organizational commitment
  • A boost in wellbeing
  • Increased creativity
  • More career opportunities for diverse employees

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How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

To help companies create and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, CoachHub has developed a specific D&I framework that includes six fundamental pieces. It’s the same framework we use with coaching clients to help everyone in an organization embrace diversity and become more inclusive.

  • Belonging – To help employees feel like they belong in the workplace, companies should encourage them to connect with themselves and others, and to form diverse interpersonal relationships.
  • Uniqueness – Encourage employees to be themselves and to celebrate their unique strengths and differences. This will create a more inclusive workplace.
  • Fairness – Managers can encourage fairness in their employees by leading by example, being curious about others, and thinking logically about their beliefs and actions. 
  • Empowerment – Give everyone in the company the opportunity to have a say in difficult conversations, rather than just agreeing with the majority opinion. This will help create a more diverse and inclusive culture.
  • Commitment – Commitment is key for leaders who want to set and achieve long-term goals. Even when progress is slow, leaders need to stay focused and help others do the same.
  • Flourish – Create positive personal and professional development programs that encourage self-confidence and help employees find innovative ways to reach their goals.

How organizations can use coaching to help improve DE&I efforts

Individual coaching helps companies develop and grow a culture of diversity and inclusion that incorporates the key aspects of belongingness and uniqueness. It helps everyone in the organization reflect on their own unique traits and perspectives, understand how to communicate and live those traits, and integrate their uniqueness into the workplace. Coaching also helps everyone in the organization consider and embrace the unique perspectives of others, including their colleagues and bosses. Furthermore, it helps them foster a sense of inclusion and belonging in their peers. Plus, coaching has come out of the boardroom for use across entire organizations with coaches themselves from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds, races, ethnicities, genders, abilities and all the characteristics that make up society. This culture of diversity and inclusion within the coaching community itself supports everything and everyone from corporations to individuals and more.

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CoachHub is a leading global talent development platform that enables organisations to create personalised, measurable and scalable coaching programmes for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organisations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 80 languages. Serving more than 1,000 clients worldwide, CoachHub’s innovative coaching programs are based on proprietary scientific research and development from its Innovation Lab. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB CapitalCoachHub is committed to creating a greener future.

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