5 Ways Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Affects Health and Safety

There are lots of reasons companies are embracing diversity and inclusion in the workplace; it improves productivity, fosters creativity and innovation and leads to a better connection with your customers.

But what about employee health?

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace can help promote a safer and healthier workforce – below we take a look at five ways diversity and inclusion in the workplace affect health and safety.

1. Inclusion in the Workplace Decreases Stress

It’s estimated that approximately 49% of Australians experience work-related stress and it’s estimated to cost employers $10 billion per year. Some common issues associated with work-related stress include increased absenteeism, job turnover, decreased productivity and lower employee satisfaction.

Inclusive environments allow individuals to bring their true, whole self to work. They don’t have to try and pretend they are someone or something else. Work colleagues openly accept them and their opinions.

Studies show that LGBTI individuals have twice the rate of mental health diagnoses. They’re five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and attempts compared to heterosexual peers. Increased psychologic distress occurs in those experiencing harassment or abuse.

This highlights the necessity of creating a positive, inclusive setting for LGBTI employees. These values must be demonstrated at all levels. Companies need to celebrate having a strong, diverse group of employees. Trust relies on honesty.

2. Diversity and Inclusion Creates a Healthier Workforce

When a company delivers on their promises, they gain valuable employee trust. Embracing diverse and inclusive values leads to higher employee satisfaction. This results in improved productivity and profitability.

Employees that feel empowered in their job are more likely to feel happier in the workplace. This promotes employee confidence that leads to innovative ideas. The company benefits through improved technology, efficiency, and quality of services.

3. Employee Retention Contributes to a Safer Workplace

diverse and inclusive workplace generates increased employee engagement, performance, and retention, and employees are less likely to leave their jobs.

To attract and support high-level and productive workers, businesses need to develop a healthy and safe workplace. Diverse, non-discriminatory employment practices lead to improved performance.

Strategies include:

  • Corporate-supported professional development about diversity and inclusivity;
  • Identify and remove obstacles to promoting mental health;
  • Promoting a positive corporate attitude toward diversity;
  • Celebrate decreased staff turnover and stress indicators; and
  • Foster increased staff loyalty.

4. Focusing on an Enabled Environment Increases Employee Health

Welfare-to-work policies are spreading across the globe. More people with disabilities are now part of the workforce. Increased job self-efficacy has become the key to providing a positive work environment for people with a disability.

Inclusive workplaces tend to mitigate the potential negative effects of a disability on an individual. It creates a stronger team-learning climate. Attention to social accessibility is also important to creating an inclusive setting.

Create long-term corporate strategies to directly help workers needing support and modifications to the workplace. This includes both physical and mental accommodations.

Companies may become involved with several associations focused on enablement. These included the Persons with Disabilities, Mental Health Ally network, and Veterans. They may also join the Diversity Council Australia and the Australian Network on Disability.

These partnerships help companies develop policies and procedures to achieve their goals and provide education to ensure businesses address all key issues.

5. How Employee Involvement Contributes to a Diverse Environment

When employees have participated in the development of new policies, they feel invested. This improves workers' safety when they follow established policies. Diverse and inclusive settings have fewer incidences of harassment, discrimination, and unlawful behaviour.

This helps employees interact in a more positive manner and develop relationships. Being part of a successful team increases motivation.

How to Create Corporate Diversity

There's no one perfect plan for initiating corporate diversity and inclusivity. Successful companies learn to master the task of balancing process and participation. Ideas and decisions must involve representatives from all corporate levels.

Two key guideposts are communication and context. You must listen to employees’ feelings, concerns, and ideas. This creates the “why” behind decisions made about diversity.

Context creates an understanding of the issues relevant to the situation. This includes issues that impact the team, product, service, and marketing strategies. Concepts are meaningless without context.

How to Ensure Inclusion in the Workplace

To begin changing the workplace culture. you must look at the current values, successes, and failures. Armed with this information, strategies and goals you can now move forward.

Consider becoming a member of the Diversity Council Australia. This demonstrates that you value diversity in your company. You can also take part in education to decrease bullying and promote diversity.

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The information contained herein is offered as risk and claims management industry guidance and provided as an overview of current market risks and available programs and is intended for discussion purposes only. This publication is not intended to offer legal advice or client-specific risk management advice. General descriptions contained herein do not include complete definitions, terms, and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for claims management interpretation. Actual claims and risk management policies must always be consulted for full coverage details and analysis.

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