What Employees Think About Inclusion in the Workplace [New Research]

diversity-and-inclusion-in-the-workplace-post-imageDiversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand in the workplace.

While diversity is about having a mix of people with differences and similarities, inclusion is about creating a fair and safe environment that supports and empowers that mix of people.


Free download: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Make It a Priority


SHRM defines inclusion as the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals:

  • Are treated fairly and respectfully
  • Have equal access to opportunities
  • Can contribute fully to the organization's success

Inclusion is about understanding the differences among individuals—and ensuring each person feels valued, safe, accepted, and heard.

Unfortunately, inclusion is often overlooked or wedged in as an afterthought of diversity. But in order for diversity to thrive, you must have inclusion. If employees don’t believe their organization has a safe, supportive, respectful, and open culture, efforts toward increased diversity will likely be slow, or perhaps even backfire.


Keep reading to learn about our research on inclusion at work, and how you can strengthen inclusion within your organization.


How Inclusion Impacts Business Outcomes


You may not realize the impact that inclusion can have on your bottom line—but research shows that organizations with inclusive cultures have better business outcomes. They're:

  • 2x as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
  • 3x as likely to be high performing
  • 6x as likely to be innovative and agile
  • 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes


What Employees Think About D&I in the Workplace


In our latest research, we set out to explore employee perceptions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how they impact engagement. Here’s what we found:

  • 61% of employees believe diversity and inclusion strategies are beneficial and essential
  • 75% of employees believe diversity and inclusion are equally important topics
  • 58% of employees believe diversity and inclusion should be developed simultaneously
  • 30% of employees believe an inclusive culture should be developed first

We also found that an organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion—particularly to inclusion—has a big impact on employee engagement.

Diversity and Inclusion Employee EngagementYou can see in the chart above that:

  • Engagement is low for employees who believe inclusion in their organization is moderately weak or very weak
  • Engagement is high for employees who believe inclusion in their organization is moderately strong or very strong


What's Most Important for a Culture of Inclusion?


Based on Deloitte’s inclusion model, we asked employees to choose up to two options they believe are most important for a culture of inclusion. Here’s what they said:

the most important factor of inclusion in the workplaceEmployees say that respect is far and away the most important factor for a culture of inclusion. The other factors are certainly important in their own ways, but the large difference indicates that respect is top of mind for employees when it comes to inclusion.

Respect may seem like a no-brainer, but organizations aren’t living up to employee expectations around respect. In fact, 54% of employees say they don’t regularly receive respect from their leaders.


Tips for Increasing Respect at Work


Respect means different things to different people. Here are a few examples of what respect looks like in the workplace.


1. Listen.

Hear people out, rather than cutting them off or talking over them. Don’t check your phone or laptop while others are speaking. Focus on building off of others' contributions to a conversation—don't just wait for your turn to talk.


2. Show curiosity.

It’s crucial to show coworkers that you see them as people, not just as instruments to get work done. This is best achieved in the small ways we get to know others, such as stopping to ask them how their weekend was, or by sharing stories about family and friends.


3. Respect people's time.

Be on time to meetings, and be present—physically and intellectually—for the full duration of your interaction. Don’t label every request or assignment as urgent when there’s no need.


4. Praise employee contributions.

All too often, the only feedback employees receive is negative:

  • “You didn’t do this right.”
  • “That deliverable was late.”
  • “If this happens again, there will be consequences.”

Demand quality work, but also take note of the positive impacts people make on their teams and projects—and celebrate those achievements!



It pays to place diversity and inclusion at the heart of your workplace culture. Download our ebook to learn more about our research!

diversity and inclusion in the workplace ebook

Published October 10, 2019 | Written By Kristin Ryba