What is meant by diversity? And why you should make it a priority

Joe Caccavale





min read


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What is meant by diversity?

Diversity means the inclusion of people from various backgrounds. In the workplace, we use the term diversity to describe the mix of people in an organisation. 

A diverse company is one where there’s a healthy mix of people from different backgrounds, whether that be in terms of race, education, or beliefs.

When we talk about diversity in the workplace, we tend to think predominantly about ethnicity and gender, although these are just the most surface-level, physical forms of diversity.

But true diversity covers all sorts of aspects...

Types of diversity

  • Race 
  • Ethnicity 
  • Gender, 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Socio-economic status 
  • Age 
  • Physical abilities
  • Religious beliefs,
  • Political beliefs
  • Neurodiversity 
  • Education
  • Socio-economic status 
  • Accent
  • Work experience
  • Introvert vs Extrovert
  • Personality type

Why should diversity be valued?

Diversity of thought

If your workplace is diverse, you’ll benefit from all of the different thoughts and ideas that come from people’s various backgrounds and experiences.

This is commonly referred to as ‘diversity of thought.’  

Peoples’ backgrounds afford them unique insights and ways of approaching problems.

A lack of diversity in teams can actually be outright detrimental - it’s been claimed that the CIA was ‘too white’ to see 9/11 coming.

So if you want to build teams that are creative and innovative, then diversity should be a top priority.

Employees should reflect customers

Your workforce should ideally represent customers, in order to have an understanding of their needs and problems. Chances are, your customers are fairly diverse, and so your employees should be too.

Doing the right thing

Other than the fact the diversity is better for business and increases the bottom line, caring about diversity is the moral thing to do.

We have the power to dismantle systems of oppression that disadvantage people from certain backgrounds.

And we can do this by creating equal opportunities and actively trying to improve diversity in our workplaces.

Benefits of equality and diversity


Research has found that inclusive companies are 1.7x more likely to be innovation leaders in their market. 

Problem solving

According to Harvard Business Review, diverse teams solve problems faster than those who are cognitively similar.

Financial performance 

The McKinsey Report found that companies in the top quartile for diversity financially outperform those at the bottom by 33%.

Employee engagement

Deloitte research concluded that diversity and inclusion improves engagement. People that feel included engage more with the wider organisation.

Talent sourcing 

Having a diverse workforce can help attract talent. In one Glassdoor survey, 67% of job seekers said a diverse team was important when considering offers.

Diversity in the workplace UK - a few stats

As you can see from the data below, we’ve got plenty of room for improvement here in the UK.

  • 77% of White people in the UK are employed, versus 65% of people from all other ethnic groups combined (GOV.UK
  • 78% of firms in the UK pay men more than women. (Computer Week)
  • There is no sector in the UK that pays women more than men (Druthers Search)
  • Only 9.7% of executive positions in the FTSE 100 are held by women. (The McGregor-Smith Review)
  • People with disabilities are more likely to be working part-time than those without disabilities (House of Commons Library)
  • 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people (ONS)
  • Minority background individuals make up 10% of the workforce but only 6% of top management positions (Market Inspector)

Behaviours that support equality diversity and inclusion in the workplace

In one poll, 20% of HR departments said that attracting and retaining diverse talent was one of the main hurdles that their organisation faced.

Remove unconscious bias from your hiring

We found that 60% of people hired ‘blind’ through our platform would’ve been missed through a traditional CV sift.

What does that tell you?

Well, it means that your average hiring process is prone to bias that prevents you from finding the best person for the job.

A blind hiring process like the one we use at Applied has been shown to result in the attraction and hiring of up to 4x more candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds.

By removing bias from your hiring, diversity will increase as a by-product.

You can steal our hiring process here.

Make sure diversity starts at the top

If you’re going to be investing time into diversity initiatives, you should first make sure that your senior leadership is diverse.

This is a true measure of how much you value diversity, and if this isn’t addressed first, it will make your efforts seem hollow or disingenuous.

If this is something that needs looking at, you’re not alone. According to one review, over half of FTSE 100 firms didn’t have a single director who came from an ethnic minority background.

Build an inclusive culture 

An inclusive culture is one that values its employees’ individual backgrounds.

Employees should feel welcomed, valued and completely comfortable at work.

An inclusive company, for example, might have flexible holidays so that people can take time off for their respective religious holidays.

Small changes like this are just part of the equation.

You also have to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities around progression and promotions, and fix any pay gaps that might occur.

Be transparent around diversity

Diversity can’t be fixed overnight.

But, you can show your employees that you’re doing your bit to improve.

Share any pay gap reports or data you’ve been collecting to show that you’re acknowledging and addressing the issue.

Glassdoor data found that 57% of employees want their company to do more to increase diversity, so show your employees that it is in fact a priority.

Collect data using employee engagement surveys 

Diversity and inclusion can be somewhat measured using feedback surveys.

Employees want to feel that their voice is being heard and accounted for, so this is the perfect opportunity to let people have their say.

Make it so that your diversity efforts can be tracked and set objectives just like any other function’s work.

These surveys will not only show your commitment and keep you on track, but also help solve problems - let employees tell you what they do and don’t like themselves.

Here at Applied, we’re passionate about improving diversity. We designed our diversity recruiting software to remove bias from hiring, so that the best person get’s the job, regardless of background. You can gen up on how we re-built the hiring process via our resources or see for yourself and start a free trial.