Diversity, equity & inclusion in the workplace | Main Region | UB

11 tips for Improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the Workplace

Prioritising diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is crucial for success. Companies with diverse teams who create an inclusive workplace can reap numerous benefits, from improved business performance to enhanced employee wellbeing.
Building an inclusive environment is a core component of any talent acquisition strategy. Recognising and harnessing the advantages of diverse talent in the workplace enables people and organisations to achieve their full potential.
This article will explain diversity, equity & inclusion in the workplace, outline the benefits, provide you with 11 tips to improve DE&I and give you advice on how to tailor your DE&I approach to suit your employees' preferences.

What is diversity, equity & inclusion in the workplace?

DE&I in the workplace brings people of different experiences and backgrounds together, which – when managed well – creates a high-performing and innovate work environment. It’s about valuing, recognising, respecting, embracing and including individual differences and believing that doing so will add value to the workplace.


In the workplace, equity refers to creating the opportunity for everyone to fully participate in the workplace productively and successfully, progress their career equally and receive equivalent rewards and benefits for doing so. It’s about fair treatment for everyone, regardless of their background, education, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability or any other characteristic. But for equality to be achieved, a workplace must also embrace diversity.


Diversity refers to recognising, respecting and valuing the differences in people, from experience and background to religion, culture, age and all other characteristics. Ultimately, we all have something about us that is different. Diverse leaders aim to understand, value and celebrate those differences.


Inclusion refers to how well each individual employee feels accepted, included and valued in the workplace. It’s about creating a sense of belonging, connection and engagement for each employee in the working environment and extends from the way meetings are run to how success is celebrated.
Benefits of diversity, equity & inclusion in the workplace

DE&I can bring an organisation many proven and tangible benefits: 

  1. Innovation: Innovation is an important differentiator for organisations as it allows you to come up with new services, products or improved ways of delivering those services or products.
  2. Improved attraction and retention: Race and gender-diverse companies are more likely to discover the most suitable skills and experience, because a welcoming workplace is more open to a diverse pool of candidates. Employers who limit parameters like gender identity and ethnic diversity effectively reduce the number of candidates they can consider.
  3. Productvity: DE&I also improves productivity and makes bottom-line business sense. Hiring a demographically diverse workforce can improve an organisation’s financial performance and help it realise its full potential.
  4. Promotion: In a workplace that operates as a true meritocracy, DE&I ensures the best people are promoted and the best ideas are implemented. Those people who want to participate, have put in the work, gained results and proven themselves are respected, rewarded and promoted. No other factors come into the promotion decision making.

11 tips to improve DE&I in your workplace

Understanding the importance of DE&I and finding the time to make genuine and lasting improvements in your workplace are two very different things. The journey to building truly equal, diverse and inclusive workplace can often be a long and daunting one. So, if improving diversity in the workplace is on your agenda, here are eleven practical tips.

1. Start a conversation with your employees

Considering the Black Lives Matter global movement and the flow on effect in Australia and New Zealand, employees are looking at what their organisation is doing to create genuine change in the workplace. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start an open and sincere conversation about what could be done to achieve greater diversity in your organisation.

2. Gather data to identify priority areas

Use anonymous surveys to gather DE&I data and create a picture of the current status within your organisation. For some organisations, this can seem counter-intuitive. For instance, if you see your culture as a meritocracy – as we do here at Hays – it can seem strange to ask your employees for private information about their religious affiliations or their ethnicity, for instance. But doing so safey and anonymously will provide you with an honest view of your employee population and identify where you need to prioritise your time, energy and resources. It also allows you to have confident and informed conversations with senior leaders and executive teams about the areas that require focus.

3. Create an inclusive culture

Real and lasting change involves more than talk, which is why we encourage you to create a culture that supports DE&I. Failing to embed DE&I in the culture of an organisation holds it back because DE&I becomes more of a regulatory exercise. Shifting attitudes to truly appreciate and celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion for underrepresented groups can be challenging. The aim is to go beyond mere tolerance of differences to genuinely respecting and valuing diversity in the organisation.

Every single employee in an organisation has a role to play in contributing to what the culture looks like. Culture is, after all, a set of behaviours and attitudes created by the people who are part of it. How people behave towards their colleagues and peers needs to be accountable. But we are all human and we all have unconscious bias. Forge a workplace culture that supports DE&I by educating them on the benefits. You could even consider organising diversity training to raise awareness and understanding of the perspectives and lived experience of under-represented groups.  Make it clear the entire workforce is all in the DE&I journey together.

4. Publicly commit

Corporate leadership teams can also consider making a public commitment to DE&I, by writing and publishing a promise to set out what you believe in as an organisation. Furthermore, companies should promote leadership accountability by aiming to clearly, regularly and effectively communicate that DE&I is on their agenda. Communicating policies, promoting DE&I initiatives and sharing the social, personal and commercial successes resulting from these will help increase employee confidence that leaders understand the importance of DE&I to individuals and the business as a whole.

5. Provide a sense of belonging

Whether you’re training new hires or managing long-standing employees, it’s important to make staff feel seen and valued:

  • During your one-on-one meetings, take the time to regularly check-in and ask how they are, recognise their good work and talk about why you value their skills and contribution.
  • Build peer groups where people feel a sense of community and belonging.
  • Support key DE&I events to reflect the varied characteristics that make up a workforce and establish taskforces to champion DE&I.
  • Offer benefits that all employees can utilise - from flexible working options to professional development and wellbeing initiatives - to show you understand and support their personal and professional needs.

6. Encourage employees to have a voice

Fostering an environment in which employees can be open and honest allows them to share their opinions and ideas, as well as concerns, which helps them feel valued. Ensure employees can have a say in key decisions that impact their work, such as by holding regular team and one-on-one meetings, providing an anonymous feedback service, offering a suggestion scheme and running surveys. Make yourself available whenever an employee needs to discuss an issue or concern.

7. Encourage diversity of thought

Organisations should aim to ensure all employees feel they can challenge the status quo, their voice is respected and valued, and they can and should fearlessly bring new ideas to the table. To encourage diverse perspectives, actively solicit ideas and feedback from employees at all levels on any workplace considerations through organisation-wide anonymous surveys, one-on-one meetings or collaborative roundtable discussions with mixed groups. Follow-up with clearly defined actions.

8. Ensure all employees have access to career development

People need to feel that they can develop and advance their career. Discover our tips for facilitating growth within your organisation.

  • Provide regular upskilling, learning and development to all employees and give them the time to develop these skills and bring them back into their day-to-day job.
  • Clearly communicate your commitment to offer career progression opportunities to all and have clearly defined progression pathways with transparent objectives.
  • To increase diversity in management and executive levels, formal mentoring programs can be used to empower employees to develop and advance. Such programs can help create connections, identify and overcome upskilling needs, share the knowledge required for advancement and prepare a mentee for promotion.

9. Encourage feedback

Talk to individual staff to understand what is required for them to feel included and be their full authentic self at work. This may include, for example, additional support from you, modified facilities, a new meeting format so that everyone can participate, the creation of employee-led taskforces or the adoption of new communication and collaboration channels. You will likely find that some people require extra or varied support to create an even playing field for all, so be aware of this when considering your inclusive workplace practices.

10. Run inclusive meetings

This starts with distributing an agenda and associated background material well in advance of the meeting so that people can prepare. Ensure everyone can join the meeting, such as by offering equal access to all staff including those living with disabilities and remote workers. Take steps to encourage everyone to participate and ask others to share their view. For more, see these tips on how to run inclusive team meetings.

11. Create inclusive recruitment and hiring processes

Before you recruit, review job descriptions and the language used in job advertisements to ensure it does not dissuade particular demographic groups from applying. Then, work with an expert recruiter who understands how to attract talent from the widest pool. Use an objective and set criteria to assess all candidates against.

Hiring managers should undertake unconscious bias training so they are aware of any prejudice or favouritism. Some organisations also create blind CVs that remove a candidate’s name or any reference to their gender, age or background.

It’s also advisable to create a diverse recruitment panel to screen and interview candidates. An aggregated scoring system and honest conversations between these assessors are important to share perspectives, challenge one another on their decision making and mitigate bias. Find out how to improve diversity in your attraction and recruitment process.

One-size does not fit all

Finally, when deciding how you can support DE&I, it’s important to remember that one size of response does not fit everybody. For example, some personality types thrive when working remotely but others require face-to-face human interaction to do their best work. Some more confident employees flourish when put on the spot in meetings, while less vocal employees require time and space to consider their response. Some marginalised groups require encouragement and support to apply for a job vacancy or promotion, while the expectations of others may need to be managed.

That’s why it’s important to take the time to get to know each employee’s preferences and tailor your DE&I approach in a way that creates equal opportunities for all, values differences and ensures everyone feels valued at work.

For more insights on how you can improve DE&I in your organisation, explore our diversity partnerships.


Search for candidates

Management issues rh menu promo blocks

Register a vacancy promo box kc

Woman registering a vacancy with Hays

Register a vacancy

Register a vacancy or submit your hiring related enquiry now.

Register now