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Diversity - 21 July 2015

The scholarly consensus on diversity is now quite clear. Many studies have proven, and continue to prove, that diverse teams are more creative, flexible, profitable and successful. And now, for the first time, researchers have also discovered a positive link between diversity and employee engagement. But the findings aren’t as straightforward as you might think.

The study found that, unsurprisingly, diversity practices have an engaging effect on minority groups. But what has also been discovered is that even employees who are part of the majority end up experiencing greater engagement.

How so? In one word: inclusion. The study of 4500 people published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found having a diverse team is rarely enough. Leaders who truly embrace diversity also make an effort to genuinely foster employee inclusion, which means everyone ends up feeling trusted and engaged, irrespective of whether they're part of a minority group or the dominant majority.

To determine the degree to which the participants felt included by their leader, the researchers asked them to complete a questionnaire, which comprised the following statements. See if you can ascertain how many of these your employees would answer in the affirmative:

1. I play an important role in helping to shape policies, procedures, and practices.
2. All viewpoints, including those that differ from the majority opinion, are considered before decisions are made.
3. My co-workers show their appreciation for the contributions I make.
4. At this organisation, everyone works closely together to accomplish goals.
5. Everyone here, regardless of background and perspective, is encouraged to share their ideas openly.

So how did you go? Whatever the outcome, keep in mind that inclusion can be a relatively subjective judgement. Which means that you might think you’re giving employees an opportunity to shape policies, share opinions, derive appreciation and so on, but if they feel as though they’re not, well, then they’re probably not.


To download complimentary e-books on employee engagement, retention, and recruitment (valued at over $100), please click here.

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