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5 ways to improve diversity & inclusion in your workplace

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As awareness grows amongst the general population, for organisations, having a documented and transparent diversity and inclusion strategy is now expected.

Research shows that workplaces that are more diverse perform better. According to McKinsey, organisations in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 25%. While those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 36%.

Organisations are increasingly recognising how diversity and inclusion:

  • Benefits a workplace financially

  • Positively impacts employee satisfaction and decision-making

  • Attracts higher quality talent

It's not enough for businesses to simply outline a diversity and inclusion policy, they need to document a strategy to put that into practice.

How can your business increase its diversity and inclusion efforts for your workplace? Here are five ways to get started.

1. Build a referral program that promotes diversity and inclusion

Currently, referrals are the source for between 30-40% of all new hires. The number of hires depending on the success of a organisation’s referral program. While referrals are a great way to attract talent, if you already have a diversity issue in your workforce, your referral program could be adding to that problem.

Marketwatch says men of colour are 26% less likely to receive a referral, while women of colour are 35% less likely. Restructuring your referral program to reward diversity can help boost diverse referrals. A higher referral bonus for diverse candidates is an easy way to drive this.

2. Provide an equal number of mentoring opportunities for minorities

McKinsey's 'Women in the Workplace' report shows a significant drop-off from entry-level to higher-level positions for minorities.

A lack of mentorship opportunities for minorities could be a factor. McKinsey's report outlines that just 36% of women of colour, say that their managers have given them advice on how to advance at work. Those who do receive coaching, however, are more likely to move up to higher positions.

An emphasis on mentorship opportunities for minority workers can help combat the unconscious biases when promoting in the workplace and give minorities the confidence and tools to move up in the workplace.

3. Report on your diversity and inclusion progress

Reporting on your diversity numbers in the workplace ensures the business is fully accountable. It forces a company to reflect on progress and is a tangible way to raise awareness of how the company is doing for current and future employees.

Over the last few years, companies like Google, Facebook, and HubSpot have committed to regularly release diversity reports to ensure that they're on track for a more inclusive workplace.

Reporting on metrics such as representation by ethnicity, gender, and age is a great start. This is also a great opportunity to raise awareness of any initiatives in place to improve diversity and inclusion in your workplace, such as partnerships with D&I organisations and non-profits, as well as internal societies for minorities.

4. Remove unconscious biases in job descriptions

Your job description’s unconscious bias could mean your organisation is losing out on top talent and furthering the gender imbalance in certain roles and departments.

For example, in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry, only 25% of those working in Ireland are women. By the same token, tech companies are guilty of using titles that include words like 'hacker', 'ninja', 'rockstar', 'guru', and 'superhero', which can be more male-orientated pronouns.

Language bias has been proven to predict the gender of your new hire. Words like: 'analyse', 'determine, 'competitive', and 'dominate' attract men, while 'collaborative', 'supportive' and even 'committed' are widely associated with femininity. In fact, a recent study found that adverts that use strong masculine language saw a decrease in female applicants by 10%.

Using descriptive and neutral titles will help counteract this. A tool called 'Gender Coder for job ads' is great at identifying any words that can lean more to a certain gender.

5. Embrace flexible working

A recent study found that 2/5 of women with partners who work full time do all or most of the household work versus 9% of men in the same family situation. The 'Child Penalty', where one person focuses on their career and the other carries out the bulk of the household and child-bearing duties, only serve to reinforce the workplace gap between men and women.

Providing flexible work hours will allow both genders to further their careers while equally distributing the work at home, which will make good business.

Flexible working can not only help encourage diversity but can also increase employee productivity. According to a 2021 Gartner survey, 43% of workers said their flexible working hours increased their productivity at work.


Overall, with the current emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it makes good business sense to increase efforts to make your workplace more inclusive.

Higher referral bonuses for diverse candidates are an easy way to drive quality applications from minorities, mentorship opportunities will give all employees the confidence to move up to high-level roles.

Reporting on diversity progress will make your organisation accountable for success and embracing flexible working will allow both genders to advance their careers equally.

If you’re looking for more advice on implementing a strong Diversity and Inclusion strategy in your organisation, get in touch.

*Originally published 10/03/19 *


  • 24 Employee Referral Statistics [2022], Zippia, March 2022.

  • Women in the Workplace 2021, McKinsey and Company, 2021.

  • Women in STEM Ireland: Statistics and Key Findings, STEM Women, Feb 2021.

  • ‘Masculine’ language in job adverts deterring female candidates, research finds, People Management, Aug 2021.

  • Women are still much more likely to have to do most of a couple’s housework and childcare, YouGov, March 2021.

  • Digital Workers Say Flexibility Is Key to Their Productivity, Gartner, June 2021.