Skills for Care

What equality, diversity and inclusion means in the workplace

04 Jul 2023

5 min read

Baidar Khan

  • Culture and diversity
  • Retention

Baidar Khan, Registered Manager, Lets Care All discussed what equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace means.

Imagine a workplace where people from different genders, races, ethnicities, physical abilities and other backgrounds are brought together to form a team where each person is valued, empowered and heard. Does it sound pleasant?

Or imagine a place where prejudice, bias, exploitation of the workforce, and negative behaviours prevail. Now let me ask, “Where would you like to work?”

The answer is simple; a place where you’re valued, given equal opportunities for growth and development, and admired for your hard work. However, such workplaces don’t come without having proper equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies and practices in place.

In today’s business world, equality, diversity, and inclusion are not just buzzwords; they’re indispensable elements that can unlock the true potential of any organisation. Equality, diversity and inclusion are grouped due to interconnectedness but are misunderstood easily when it comes to implementation.

So what are the true meanings of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how can these concepts work for any organisation to establish a thriving working environment?

When thinking of the word ‘equality’, the first thing that likely comes mind is treating everyone exactly the same... But wait, true equality is more than that because it’s giving everyone a fair opportunity regardless of race, background, gender or anything else. It’s all about creating a level playing field where everyone gets an equal chance to succeed.

Now, the concept of equality has evolved to equity which is a more comprehensive concept. Equity also takes into consideration an individual’s circumstances and adjusts treatment accordingly. Equality means treating everyone equally, while equity means treating individuals according to their needs for fair competition.

Both equality and equity are essential for establishing a workplace culture because it encourages employees to unlock their true potential when their needs are addressed in an equitable way.

In a diverse workplace with individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, races, religions, and gender, and other demographic backgrounds, equality becomes more critical because it allows managers to treat everyone fairly and equally.

Suppose you’re working in a managerial position, where you have colleagues from different backgrounds and religions. It’s important to offer all your team members equal opportunities for growth and development and fair treatment in accordance with their requirements.

For this to be possible, you need an EDI policy to create a working environment where everyone fits in. When it’s implemented, you’ll be able to create a place where employees are given equal opportunities to voice their ideas, and where their opinions hold equal weight regardless of their positions.

What about when you think of the word ‘diversity’? The first thing that comes to your mind may be people from different ethnic backgrounds, working together in one workplace.

You’re thinking right, but take the next step with this. You could use the analogy of a box of crayons, where each crayon is different, but a painting will be a combination of all these different crayons. Similarly, having a mix of people in the workforce represents diversity, but these differences should be celebrated and embraced. Diversity can take various forms, including;

  • gender diversity
  • age diversity
  • ethnic diversity

It can be assumed that having racial, gender, or ethnic diversity is enough, but it’s equally important to have diversity in how people think.

Having a mix of people in the workforce is a good thing because when a bunch of diverse minds are brought together, they’ll produce creative ideas and innovative solutions.

Embracing diversity in the workplace is not only the right thing to do but also a smart business move. Research shows that diverse teams always outperform homogenous teams, especially in creativity, innovation, decision-making and problem-solving.

A survey conducted by McKinsey & Company revealed a strong correlation between diversity and organisational performance. The gender-diverse companies witnessed a considerable differential likelihood of outperformance of 48% compared to the least gender-diverse companies.

Organisations with higher ethnic diversity earn 36% more profitability than the least ethnically diverse companies. Diverse workplaces also facilitate organisations in attracting top talent, enhancing engagement and retention, and improving customer satisfaction. So, a workplace with equality and diversity represents a place where everyone feels valued, empowered and embedded.

Last but not least, we have inclusion. Simply, it refers to the degree to which organisations embrace all employees. Think of inclusion as a secret sauce that brings equality and diversity together. It means creating a working environment where everyone feels an affinity.

In an inclusive workplace, individuals from diverse backgrounds are valued and respected, and efforts are made to develop a sense of belonging. Inclusion is an important social concept that works for organisations because it overcomes marginalisation in the workplace.

Some other terms are closely associated with inclusion, such as exclusion, segregation, and integration. It’s important to understand these terms to understand inclusion in its true sense.

In contrast to inclusion, exclusion refers to the unintentional or deliberate act of keeping individuals away from contributing to organisational success and denying equal rights and opportunities. The ultimate results of exclusion are increased discrimination, systematic barriers, and prejudice in the workplace.

Segregation is a deliberate separation of individuals or groups based on specific characteristics.

Integration is related to inclusion because both concepts promote equality and diversity in the workplace, but there are also substantial differences in focus, approach, scope and emphasis.

To create an inclusive and positive workplace culture, the role of equality, diversity, and inclusion can’t be denied. However, implementing equality, diversity and inclusion policies is not always simple.

Some certain barriers or challenges restrict organisations from creating a positive work culture.

Going back to the crayon analogy – to create a painting you need an artist capable of using the different crayons collectively and mixing them to create new colours that bring astonishing effects to the painting. Similarly, in work you require a person that might be a leader or manager to create and implement inclusive policies and practices within the organisation. However, employee participation is also meaningful because a leader can’t do miracles without support from their team.

Before setting up an equality, diversity and inclusion strategy at the workplace, you should be aware of the barriers and challenges. Some significant obstacles to equality, diversity and inclusion are resistance to change, unconscious bias and stereotypes, lack of awareness, limited representation, communication barriers, tokenism, absence of inclusive policies, and lack of accountability.

So here are my top tips to help you to support EDI in the workplace.

  • Firstly, devise a clear EDI policy that includes the organisational commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Cultivate a leadership that understands the value of diversity and inclusion and equips them with the skills to lead inclusivity at the workplace.
  • Conduct regular diversity assessments to understand the composition of the workforce and the representation of different groups.
  • Provide training and education to staff members regarding equality, diversity and inclusion and ensure their participation actively in the process.
  • Foster inclusive communication practices. Open and inclusive communication will ensure that all voices are heard, valued and respected.
  • Bring changes within hiring practices to promote diversity and equality.
  • Promote a culture of regular evaluation and accountability. This will facilitate in assessing the progress towards EDI goals.


A workplace that embraces equality, diversity and inclusion is a good place to work. So, let’s work together to build a workplace that celebrates diversity, ensures equality and fosters inclusion. By doing so, we’ll be able to create a brighter future where everyone can thrive and contribute their best regardless of their background or identity.

Find more blogs and information about developing a #PositiveWorkplaceCulture.

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