Skip to content Skip to Live Chat

Barriers and Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

Jun 4, 2019

Workplace diversity is currently a very hot topic among businesses. The modern workplace considers workplace diversity a crucial element of success and happiness in the office and are advocates for social improvements.

Building a diverse workforce can be a challenge for some businesses, but there are solutions to create a sense of harmony and unity among different people and teams.

Organizations should aim for inherent and acquired diversity. Inherent diversity is biological traits such as race, gender, and sexual orientation, while acquired diversity is things you gain from experience like religion, cultural experiences, and situations that make an impact on your thought-process.

The benefits of workplace diversity greatly outweigh the barriers you may have to cross to get there.


Benefits of workplace diversity.

There are many benefits to workplace diversity, and many studies that prove the positive impact that diversity will have on your office.

Increased innovation.

It’s been proven that diversity in your workplace will lead to increased innovation among your team. More diversity in leadership roles creates an environment where more diverse ideas are heard and welcomed.

When you have diversity in your organization, people bring their own background and experiences to brainstorming. Others can then use their background and experiences to build on new ideas. People are likely to have different ideas based on their backgrounds, and thus more options come forth. This all leads to more innovation and better performance on a team.


Enhanced productivity.

The wider variety of skills and abilities associated with workplace diversity directly contributes to productivity. Organizations that have more diversity in their office boast higher productivity, as different workers have different skills, abilities, and areas of work that they enjoy.

With a more diverse organization, recruitment becomes easier, due to potential employees feeling that they have a place and great future at your organization. When managers have an easier time recruiting employees, productivity for the whole organization goes up. And with better recruitment, the best and the brightest are more likely to join your team, increasing productivity for your organization.

Additionally, organizations that boast a more diverse leadership team find that employees are more forthcoming with suggestions, more creative, and have added insight to offer, which leads to more productive work sessions and better results overall.

To put it plainly; the greater the variety of employees you have, the greater number of ideas and perspectives they will bring, which is better for your business.


Improved company culture.

Employees that see diversity in the workplace around them have an overall more positive opinion of their company. Two-thirds of job seekers say that diversity in an organization is an important factor for them. When organizations work to meet those expectations, employees are more satisfied.

A lack of diversity in a job can unintentionally create a hostile environment and contribute to higher turnover. When employees feel like they don’t fit in, they’re not likely to stick around. The current employment rates give a lot of opportunities to workers; by creating a diverse and inclusive company culture, employees will be drawn to your company and want to stay, which will only serve to continue the cycle of positive culture.

Workplaces that encourage women and other minorities to take leadership roles create a more positive environment for future employees. When employees have managers that they relate to and trust, everyone benefits.

Companies that have successful workplace diversity create programs and groups for supporting diversity. A tighter, more invested community in your workplace makes everyone feel more excited about their place in the office.


Barriers to workplace diversity.

While it’s obvious that there are many benefits to added diversity to your workplace, it’s not always simple to reach that goal. Barriers to workforce diversity are alive and well, and managers need to know what they’re up against.

Problems with integration.

Some workplaces may find issues when it comes to helping diverse employees integrate. Helping employees feel included and important is a huge part of helping them make a smooth transition into the office.


When organizations don’t have the right programs in place to help with diversity training, they will be unable to help integrate a new person into the office well.

There are multiple levels of integration that are needed, including social connections and issues related to workplace equality like fairness of pay, work responsibilities, and more.

Communication issues.

Organizations with workplace diversity may find issues with communication. Poor communication can lead to unintentional offense, mistrust, and unclear practices within the workplace.

Businesses that work to increase diversity in their workplace may find a communication barrier with international employees who speak different languages, and follow different schedules, and/or cultural practices. It can be very easy to cause unintentional offense in these kinds of situations.

Managers who try to work with employees about the proper ways to communicate effectively can similarly have issues in explaining expectations clearly. By trying to be kind, and informational, it can sometimes be hard to directly address problems. Managers also want to help all employees feel included and welcome, even those that are having issues communicating properly. This can lead to managers being unsure of the best way to go about helping everyone get on the same page


Resistance to change.

One of the largest barriers to increased workplace diversity can be resistance to change. As new policies and employees are brought into an organization, there may be those who are resistant to the changes happening.

Those who are resistant to change can cause offense and harm to diverse employees, by making them feel they are not wanted and don’t belong.

Stereotyping, racism, and offensive remarks are just some of the negative consequences when your workforce is resistant to changes.


Solutions to diversity issues.

Managers in the workplace should utilize their education and their experience to help them better integrate diversity in their workplace. There are many ways managers can help increase diversity and improve work culture in their offices.


Develop organizational policy.

Those educated in business management can work to create policies that make sense for their organization to increase diversity. Having clear policies in place for diversity issues and situations will make it clear to employees what the expectations are.

Hiring policies that are in place to increase diversity in recruitment are instrumental in making sure an organization increases diversity. From policies on interviews, application questions, to management training, there are many ways that recruitment efforts can be directed toward increasing diversity.

Proper policies on training and management expectations are also vital to fostering a diverse organizational culture. When new employees, and managers alike understand what the requirements and expectations are regarding diversity, everyone will be on the same page.


Continuous diversity training.

Continual training on diversity is beneficial to help everyone get reminders about appropriate behavior. Well-educated human resource managers can help educate new and current employees on diversity and respect. The right training and education can be instrumental in making sure you’re prepared to conduct and lead these kinds of trainings.

Diversity training should emphasize the proper communication, company policies, and culture of respect necessary to create an inclusive work culture.


Emphasize respect.

Respect is a crucial element of success in any company. Business leaders should be well-equipped to ensure the comfort and safety of all of their employees, and conversely, to correct employees who engage in disrespectful behaviors.

Managers who expect respect for themselves, and between employees, have better success building a positive, productive culture. When people in an organization are passive about disrespect, it causes unrest within the entire organization.

It’s important not to be silent about respect issues. Kindly but directly correcting instances of disrespect will ensure that everyone feels that they have an ally, and that diversity is welcome and encouraged in the organization.


When it comes to workplace diversity, the policy should be that there is room for everyone. Different backgrounds and experiences can greatly improve your organization and ensure that your office is an environment of respect and success.


Recommended Articles

Take a look at other articles from WGU. Our articles feature information on a wide variety of subjects, written with the help of subject matter experts and researchers who are well-versed in their industries. This allows us to provide articles with interesting, relevant, and accurate information.