Surface Level Diversity: Why You Need to Dig Deeper

According to McKinsey, companies that embrace gender-based diversity are 15% more likely to reap positive financial results. Another study found that diverse management teams can increase a company’s revenue by 19%. A diverse workplace has immense benefits for your organization, and that’s why it’s crucial to go beyond surface-level diversity.

In this definitive guide, Allybot walks you through surface-level diversity, why it’s critical to leverage deep-level diversity, and tips to create an inclusive workplace. So grab your coffee and join us as we discuss this topic in full!

What is Surface Level Diversity?

Surface-level diversity refers to a person’s visible features, such as physical abilities or disabilities, race, sex, color, age, education, ethnicity, or body size. When we talk about diversity in the workplace, these are the kinds of characteristics people think about.

Now, you may be thinking: ‘Okay, but what about characteristics that aren’t visible?’ And you’d be right to ask that question. Because one of the issues with hyper-focusing on surface level diversity, is that you might be ignoring whole identity groups whose characteristics are non-observable. With that in mind, let’s explore why going focusing on the non-observable characteristics is just as important as focusing on the surface level.

Why Going Beyond Surface-Level Diversity in the Workplace is Important

While it’s vital for your organization to embrace diversity to build a positive company culture, you need to explore the issue deeper. You should also consider deep-level diversity to harness the power of diverse employees.

Deep-level diversity goes beyond an individual’s visible characteristics as it includes those we can’t see. For example, your staff’s religious beliefs, attitudes, and values; health status; and invisible disabilities are all taken into consideration. 

Taking these characteristics into account is crucial in creating a well-motivated, tight-knit workforce. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits deep-level diversity can bring.

Increases productivity and engagement

No workplace is 100% free of stress, but your organization can target bias-related stressors to create a safe environment. Accepting deep-level diversity can reduce discrimination, harassment, stereotypes, etc. 

A non-diverse workplace can make employees feel disengaged. As a result, it affects their productivity and work performance. They feel isolated and less valued, which causes them to withhold their ideas in group discussions or in meetings. 

As you can imagine, this can lead to seriously demoralized team members. This in turn leads to lower productivity and higher turnover, which is extremely detrimental to businesses.

Encourages innovation

Because you welcome and incorporate deep-level diversity in the workplace, you can create a powerful workforce with different experiences. It’s possible to leverage a range of perspectives and insights to improve your products or services. Deloitte’s survey shows that deep-level diversity leads to innovative solutions.

Promotes competition

A healthy competition that drives your employees to exceed expectations is a massive benefit to your company. Diversity in the workplace can build and nurture a competitive spirit that leads to better decisions. One study shows that businesses with diverse employees can triple performance and revenue.

Also, deep-level diversity can help companies attract top talent. After all, if you’re a company that values diversity, you’ll attract more individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Tips on How to Go Beyond Surface-Level Diversity in the Workplace

Educate yourself and your team on microaggressions

Microaggressions are small but offensive remarks or actions directed at marginalized groups or minorities. We make these comments without intending to harm others, but they’re still impactful.

Because microaggressions are subtle and challenging to notice, those who experience them can suffer quietly without us realizing it. So it’s vital to be aware of microaggressions and reduce them in your daily conversations.  

AllyBot is a useful tool for marketing teams on Slack that privately suggests more inclusive language if it detects a few outdated words or phrases. It’s an educational tool that can help you address microaggressions effectively, especially for remote companies.

Hire for cognitive diversity

According to balance theory, human beings tend to form groups based on shared characteristics, interests, or goals. We want to belong to a community with like-minded people. If this human tendency thrives in your organization, you’re likely to have like-minded teams. 

It means your company has low cognitive diversity, leading to a work culture that encourages people to think the same way and remain in their own echo chambers. Employees with homogenous thinking cannot see things from different angles or experiment with diverse ideas. It stifles growth and innovation.

Instead, invest in deep-level diversity by hiring for cognitive diversity and including people from different cultures, backgrounds, experiences, etc. For example, remove racial bias from your interviews and the selection process through anonymous recruiting. Do away with information relating to photos, age, or names to choose the best candidates based on merit and experience.

Celebrate and highlight diverse leadership

If you want your employees to accept diversity, you should recognize and celebrate it in your organization. Emphasize that diverse leadership is welcome and an integral part of your company. Internal and external stakeholders will see you’re committed to inclusive leadership and deep-level diversity.

For example, find out what traditions or holidays are important to your employees and how you can help them celebrate. Recognizing these special days increases awareness among your workers about different cultural backgrounds.

As a result, your example of inclusivity encourages others to be transparent about their hidden diverse characteristics. 

Create inclusive policies

To ensure every staff member understands how diversity works in your organization, your practices, procedures, and policies must be inclusive. Create policies that promote inclusion and allow your workers to provide feedback if they see some form of discrimination. 

Establish an inclusion council

If your organization is large, form an inclusive council to build a welcoming workplace. The team comprises employees and managers who implement and monitor programs and policies to ensure there’s inclusivity in the workplace. Also, the group should represent diverse cultural identities and backgrounds and senior management. 

It gives the council authority to take immediate action if it notices non-inclusive behaviors or language. It can also provide quick feedback to the c-suite since the team has leaders occupying high positions. To be effective, the council can meet quarterly to discuss challenges, review feedback from the staff, and find ways to promote inclusivity.

It’s Time To Go Beyond Surface-Level Diversity

Surface-level diversity represents a person’s observable characteristics like color, race, ethnicity, body size, education, etc. Diversity in the workplace is limited to these visible features. But you need to go beyond this level of diversity.

Deep-level diversity, on the other hand, refers to hidden aspects of an individual, including immigration status, invisible physical disabilities, etc.
Surface-level diversity isn’t enough because it doesn’t lead to an inclusive organization. You should incorporate deep-level diversity to harness the benefits of a diverse workplace. A tool like Allybot can help make your workspace more inclusive through private educational messages in Slack whenever it finds non-inclusive language. Add Allybot to Slack and try it for free.