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Nurturing diversity, belonging, and inclusivity in the workplace

Recruitment | 6 Min Read

Nurturing diversity, belonging, and inclusivity in the workplace


Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are at the forefront of modern organizations, not just because they are ethical but because they provide optimum business outcomes.

As per the DEI Lighthouse Program, at least US$15.4 billion will be spent by 2026 to enforce DEI at the workplace, and yet it will take the next 151 years to close the global economic gender gap.

Evolving customer expectations, increasing awareness, investor interest, and competition for talent are major driving forces for companies to focus on workplace diversity. Employees hold their employers accountable for enforcing DEI and are unsatisfied with the increasing gap between DEI commitment and impact.

We exist because we democratize opportunity; hence, for us, diversity is at the core of our existence…we believe every opportunity should be available to everyone without any bias and prejudice.

Siddhartha Gupta
CEO, Mercer | Mettl


An overview of an inclusive culture

An inclusive culture is a workplace environment that welcomes, appreciates, and values employees from diverse backgrounds and characteristics. It celebrates their differences and identifies unique opportunities to respect and motivate them.

Diverse companies are 36% more likely to outperform their competitors financially, according to World Economic Forum’s report Global Parity Alliance: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lighthouses 2023.

When leaders respect employees’ opinions irrespective of gender, age, race, religion, physical ability, socio-economic status, and orientation, employees innovate freely.

Diversity matters. Organizations with women leaders at all levels thrive, benefitting from enhanced financial performance, innovation, and a resilient culture. It is not just an ethical obligation anymore but a smart business move.

Anirban B Roy
CRO, Mercer | Mettl

Establishing inclusive workplace culture involves ensuring the psychological safety of employees and reinforcing positive employee experiences.

In an inclusive workplace, employees are encouraged to be authentic without judgment and marginalization. It helps build diverse teams with empowered and supported employees who utilize their potential to help organizations reach their objectives.


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Characteristics of an inclusive workplace culture

Organizations need different types of analytical workers, creative minds, conceptual thinkers, and detail-oriented individuals to drive productivity and new ideas. This can shape the workplace culture to support employees with different personalities, backgrounds, and cultures. The key characteristics of an inclusive workplace are:

  • Diversity and inclusion throughout different organizational roles.
  • Employee evaluation based on measurable behavior and competencies.
  • Transparent company procedures and policies.
  • Consistent employee interaction.
  • A learning culture including robust mentoring programs.
  • Comprehensive and accessible conflict resolution for every employee.
  • Alignment of DEI initiatives with core mission and values.
  • Implementation of best practices to adapt to the dynamic landscape.


Significance of a safe and inclusive workplace environment

Understanding the difference between diversity and inclusion is necessary to create a safe workplace for employees.

Diversity is a set of traits and characteristics that differentiate one person from another. This can be ensured by hiring people from different backgrounds with an unbiased hiring process. Employees must be hired based on their skills and performance, irrespective of gender, race, nationality, identity, and sexual orientation.

Inclusion in the workplace refers to the recognition of the presence, perspectives, and contributions of diverse employees. Every employee must be valued equally, and such policies must be integrated into the environment.

A diverse and inclusive environment makes every employee feel valued and supported, which increases employee engagement. Equity ensures that all employees are given the same career growth opportunities based on performance.


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Why should organizations prioritize diversity?

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Creativity and innovation:

When multiple voices and perspectives are expressed, new and innovative ideas emerge, benefiting the organization.

Attracts top talent:

Glassdoor’s Diversity and Inclusion Workplace Survey shows that 76% of job seekers and employees evaluate company offers based on workforce diversity. Therefore, it is necessary to promote diversity to hire top talent from various groups in the future.

Captures new markets:

Companies with people from different backgrounds foster innovation. Supported employees contribute more to meetings, conversations, and reviews. It helps create unique and value-driven products to capture new markets.

Increases employee engagement:

By 2025, a large section of the workforce will comprise millennials and Gen Z. Deloitte’s Inclusive Mobility study shows that 83% of millennials are more likely to be engaged at work if their company is inclusive. Younger generations want to feel valued for their opinions, and they are willing to go above and beyond for leaders who respect them.

Enhances decision-making:

Organizations with diverse teams are better at decision-making. The valuable input from employees of different backgrounds provides a fresh perspective on the company's challenges, and their personal experiences help leaders make mindful decisions.

Improves employee retention:

Employees wish to work for inclusive companies that provide career growth opportunities without bias. When employees feel they belong with their employer, they contribute more and are likely to stay with their employer.

Reduces hiring costs:

Inclusive workplaces have lower employee turnover because satisfied employees are loyal to the company. This helps leaders to reduce hiring costs. When employees are given equal opportunities to improve their performance through training and development programs, organizations can fill senior roles by hiring from within the company.

Supports employees’ mental health:

Employees who feel welcomed are less likely to have work-related stress. They feel positive about their work and approach their managers without inhibition. It reduces the risk of anxiety, stress, and depression.

Increases business profitability:

Engaged and innovative teams are productive as they are motivated to accomplish their goals. Managers supporting employee performance in an inclusive environment leads to better business profitability.


Best practices for an inclusive and safe workplace culture

The best practices for implementing DEI initiatives for success are:


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1. Understand the root causes


The first step to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to understand challenges and their root causes. Interacting with employees and getting their feedback and opinions on what is important helps address diversity challenges.

  • Organize a broad assessment with a companywide survey to understand the employee experience.
  • Complete deep data analysis to identify problem areas and root causes.
  • Continue to get feedback and input from the target population.
  • Prioritize problem areas based on feasibility and urgency.


2. Define success with measurable goals


Improving organization-wide diversity and inclusion involves establishing an ongoing process with clearly defined measurable goals.

  • Establish short-term and long-term goals.
  • Create a cross-functional and diverse team that understands organizational needs and strengths.
  • Clearly define organization-wide changes and inform employees of the purpose.
  • Connect the changes to the end goal and organizational values.
  • Encourage employees to understand what is in it for them and clearly define what to expect.


3. Develop deep commitment of executive leaders


Employees expect top leaders to be accountable for diversity initiatives and a supportive environment. Leaders are most likely to contribute to driving diversity and encouraging inclusion when they deeply understand how their behavior, biases, and values affect various stakeholders inside and outside the organization.

  • Formally incorporate DEI goals into annual planning.
  • Secure time and resources to drive such changes.
  • Assume responsibility for outcomes.
  • Check if inclusive leadership is being implemented at all levels.
  • Self-assessments and multi-rater feedback can be used to gauge the level of inclusive leadership.
  • Lead the desired change beginning with senior leaders and the CEO.
  • Allocate sufficient budget, capabilities, and expertise to execute a diversity and inclusion plan.
  • Establish a cross-functional team with experts and external partnerships to oversee this plan’s execution.


4. Design a context-based solution


With a concrete understanding of challenges and an execution plan, organizations must create impactful and context-based solutions. These changes must be easy to integrate into the day-to-day activities.

  • Create scalable solutions to address the identified root causes.
  • Integrate process changes to create a sustainable positive impact on the culture.
  • Provide necessary tools for employees to be a part of the change.
  • Encourage employees and hold them accountable for changes through necessary reskilling and upskilling for performance improvement.


5. Create a safe space


Employees should feel safe to discuss any discrimination that they have faced either personally or observed the same happen to others.

  • Create a diversity and inclusion committee or community to handle DEI grievances.
  • Ensure that the importance of DEI is cascaded top-down through training or regulation conversations on diversity initiated by the top leaders.


6. Track progress and apply course correction


Effective solutions are impactful only with continuous monitoring and tracking. Developing insights from such measures help organizations take corrective actions and increase the impact of diversity solutions.

  • Define applicable diversity and inclusion KPIs with a clearly defined measurement strategy.
  • Track metrics and milestones at regular intervals.
  • Create scorecards to track progress toward higher-level aspiration.
  • Monitor whether root causes are resolved.
  • Measure outcomes and check those against goals.
  • Collect both qualitative and quantitative data from the target population.
  • Use the data to derive accurate insights and adjust the solution accordingly.



Organizations face challenges in prioritizing DEI initiatives because they need to be aligned with company objectives. The unprecedented shift in the work environment in recent years has further created turmoil in the workplace environment. Therefore, organizations must invest in creating an open-minded hiring and retention policy to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias, contributing to a diverse and inclusive workforce.


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Mercer | Mettl offers a suite of assessments and hackathons for hiring and learning and development. The assessments are designed to promote workplace diversity, inclusivity, and equity. With a scientific approach and data-backed questions, these tests promote an unbiased evaluation for optimum hiring and L&D.



What should employees do to create an inclusive workplace?

How do you create a truly inclusive workplace?

What is a safe environment for employees?

Originally published June 15 2023, Updated June 15 2023

Written by

Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.

About This Topic

Employee engagement is a process by which companies undertake specific activities to interact with employees and engage them. The activities include employee development, team building, skills development, trainings etc.

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