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What is inclusion and diversity in the workplace?

Jul 4, 2023


What is diversity, equity, and inclusion?

More and more, customers, employees and investors expect to do business with organisations that show strong workplace culture, values and purpose.

In particular they look for businesses and organisations that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are three values that are interconnected.

Diversity: refers to who is in the workforce.

A diverse workforce represents the broad range of people in the community.

Examples of diversity are people of different ages, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, neurodiversity.

Equity: refers to fair treatment for all who are in the workforce.

Policies, practices and workplace culture all reflect this fair treatment.

Equity is different to equality: while equality assumes all people are treated the same, equity takes into account each person’s unique circumstances and makes necessary adjustments so that the end result is equal. For example, it is fair treatment to adjust doors and elevators to be suitable for people who use wheelchairs.

Inclusion: refers to each employee’s experience of the workplace.

Employers in an inclusive workplace recognise and make use of their employees’ different skills and perspectives to reach the best outcomes. By making sure different employees with different needs can participate, employers are able to harness a wider range of expertise.

Employees in an inclusive workplace are able to be themselves and use their unique skills and perspectives at work. They are more likely to be productive and contribute to workplace success.

Why diversity, equity and inclusion – what are the benefits?

Years of robust organisational research show time and again that diversity, equity and inclusion makes a workforce stronger.

Companies and organisations that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive are better able to meet challenges, attract and keep top talent, and meet the needs of different customer bases.

Global business development leaders McKinsey have shown in successive studies that better-performing organisations with above-average profitability have more diverse workforces.

McKinsey identified five areas where greater diversity, equity and inclusion can boost an organisation’s performance:

  1. Winning talent – attracting and keeping the best employees, and keeping them engaged;
  2. Improving the quality of decision-making – different perspectives improve problem-solving and vision;
  3. Increasing customer insight and innovation – diverse teams are more innovative and can anticipate change;
  4. Driving employee motivation and satisfaction – better teamwork and workplace culture;
  5. Improving a company’s image – attracting talent, customers, and government support.

Who does diversity, equity and inclusion cover in the workplace?

Diversity, equity and inclusion covers people from groups who are proportionally under-represented in workplaces, and/or experience disadvantage at work because of who they are.

Disadvantaged employees are at risk of being harassed and excluded. They are more likely to leave an unwelcoming workplace, taking their expertise and experience elsewhere.

Employers who allow disadvantage to go unchecked at work risk reduced productivity, or losing the disadvantaged employees. Their workplace culture or industry reputation may suffer. Employers may even risk legal or regulatory action.

Based on the DCA Inclusion@work Index, the Diversity Council of Australia has found the following people experience the most discrimination or harassment at work: First Nations (Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander) people, people with disability, people of a non-Christian faith, LGBTQI+ people, younger workers, carers, culturally diverse people, and women.

What can we do to address diversity, equity and inclusion?

There are many things a business or organisation can do to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.

Overall, improvements will occur over time.

But any organisation can make changes beginning now, to begin on the path to better diversity, equity and inclusion.

Continue reading and viewing Jobsbank’s Resource Centre for more information and practical advice.

Need more information?

Further reading:

Why diversity matters (2015)

Delivering through diversity (2018)

Diversity wins: How inclusion matters (2020).


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Jobsbank acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to their culture, their connections to Country and community, and to Elders past, present and emerging.