Key Takeaways

  • Developing a critical lens for gender can help safety professionals better address risks for workers at individual, group and systems levels.

  • Organizations can adopt practices to be more equitable and inclusive in response to larger cultural inequities that become embedded throughout workplace culture on interpersonal and structural levels.

  • Acknowledging and responding to differences in experiences among the most marginalized groups is more effective for safety professionals than ignoring or denying differences.

Topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion are central to discussions about workplace culture and high-performing organizations for several reasons. With the proper culture, diverse teams can be more innovative at problem solving and produce better results overall. Research also indicates that inclusive workplaces that value and support employees from diverse backgrounds benefit from enhanced employee engagement and productivity (Hunt, Layton & Prince, 2015). With respect to employee recruitment and retention, an organization's culture plays a significant role in determining whether diverse employees develop a sense of connection and loyalty to an organization. In addition to a business case for enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion for organizations and employees, the value of such initiatives may be set against an ethical backdrop: ensuring that workplaces support people with diverse backgrounds and identities so that all employees have an opportunity to thrive in their work is simply the right thing to do (Robinson & Dechant, 1997).

Regardless of the primary motivation, if the goal is to build a more diverse workforce, creating an inclusive culture is a necessary step toward making that a reality. Those who are just beginning to understand issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion may support creating more inclusive workplaces overall, at least in principle, but may struggle to know where to start to affect change.

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