Diversity is much more than a buzzword for political campaigns or business marketing. It’s a core component of modern life, and it’s a philosophical ideal we should all strive for. Diversity is important for a number of reasons, including improving representation in the media, ensuring that businesses serve more than just one group, and guaranteeing that human rights are available to all.
Whether you’re a business owner, an average Joe or Jane, or an aspiring politician, it’s important to understand the different types of diversity. Today, let’s look at each type of diversity and explore how they affect businesses, institutions, and beliefs.
What Are the Different Types of Diversity?
There are many different types of diversity you might encounter in the workplace or in your personal life. These diversity types have different impacts on personal and professional encounters alike.
1. Cultural Diversity
Cultural diversity includes the characteristics, ideals, and tendencies of cultural populations. For example, there are cultural differences between the United States and the United Kingdom, despite their similarities relative to other countries.
If a person from the UK meets a person from the US, their cultural differences will lead to:
- Differences in behavior
- Differences in ideology
- Differences in language
Cultural differences and diversity can be much more than this, of course. For example, there’s a lot more cultural diversity in a workplace with employees from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Africa than in a workplace with employees just from the US, for example, due to varying cultural backgrounds and national origins.
Cultural diversity is important because it leads to fresh ideas. For example, businesses with more cultural diversity may be able to provide better products and services to a worldwide customer base than otherwise.
Cultural diversity is impacted by geographic location, but it can also be due to differences between a geographically close group of people. Life experiences, personal experiences, and other elements can lead to different cultures arising from the same people, even if external diversity appears very low.
Cultural diversity is closely related to age diversity, which is diversity between age groups. For example, Millennials and Baby Boomers have many differences in opinions due to the differences in their cultures growing up.
2. Sex Diversity
Sex diversity is one of the most important types. It refers to the diverseness of male vs. female people in a social group or work environment. Sex diversity is important politically and practically. For example, a crash test company that only hires male employees might find that they design seatbelts and other safety features for people with male bodies.
That’s a big problem, given that roughly half of all drivers are female! By including sex diversity and your workforce, you’ll ensure that you don’t run into any catastrophic blind spots and serve all your potential customers equally well.
3. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Diversity
Also important is gender identity and sexual orientation diversity, which sometimes (but not always) overlap. Gender identity affects whether one identifies as a man, woman, or non-binary. Sexual orientation affects whether a person is heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, or something else.
Regardless, gender diversity and sexual orientation diversity are important so:
- Companies don’t discriminate against sexual or gender identity minorities, such as LGBTQ+ people, during the hiring process or in the workplace
- Members of sexual or gender identity minorities are represented in media and elsewhere
At the moment, sexual orientation and gender identity minorities are in ongoing political battles to secure their rights. As time passes, this type of diversity might increase as people feel empowered to express themselves.
4. Ethnic Diversity
Ethnic diversity refers to any diversity in terms of ethnicity or what has historically been referred to as “race,” which is often more of a cultural idea than a genetically backed one. Ethnic diversity or racial diversity can include:
- Diversity in skin color
- Diversity in regional populations
Ethnic diversity is important for workplaces and individuals alike to recognize to avoid being discriminatory (intentionally or otherwise). More ethnic diversity can lead to increased innovation and a more inclusive environment in the workplace.
5. Religious Diversity
The idea of religious diversity includes any diversity originating from religious beliefs, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and other religions. In addition, it includes freedom from religion, such as among atheists or people who are more secular about their spirituality. Workplaces need to consider diversity in spiritual beliefs and worldviews so that they don’t unintentionally discriminate against one religion or another.
For example, a workplace might consider giving everyone time off for Christmas but fail to recognize that Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday, does not take place on the same day. Thus, they might unintentionally discriminate against Jewish employees since that workplace doesn’t pay attention to their religious diversity.
6. Ability Diversity
Ability diversity refers to differences in ability, both physical abilities, and mental abilities, between population members or workplaces. Workplaces are prohibited from discriminating against differently-abled people, such as people with paraplegia or other disabilities.
Considering ability diversity is important so that you can act accordingly for everyone on your staff or in your friend group. For instance, if you have an employee with paraplegia, you need to make sure they can get to their workplace on time and safely without relying on stairs or other traversal accommodations intended for people without paraplegia.
7. Diversity in Socioeconomic Background
Finally is diversity through socioeconomic background or the wealth-based places people hold in society. Socioeconomic status or background can affect a wide range of behaviors and ideas, including:
- How someone talks
- How someone spends or saves their money
- How someone thinks about money
Diversity in socioeconomic background is typically less achievable in the workplace due to the hierarchies inherent in capitalism (i.e., front-line workers earn less than managers, who earn less than executives, etc.).
That said, it may still be worthwhile to consider socioeconomic diversity as a manager or company leader. Paying your employees more could lead to increased productivity, better workplace satisfaction, and other tangible benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace and Elsewhere?
Now that you understand the different types of diversity, it’s important to reflect on the major benefits you’ll see if you focus on cultivating a diverse workforce of multiple demographics or within your personal life.
Improved Awareness of Oneself
For starters, increased diversity also leads to improved awareness of oneself. When you surround yourself with people different from you, you learn to recognize your flaws and merits with more clarity.
More than that, you become a more accepting, tolerant person; you’ll therefore become more enjoyable to be around. People who lean into diversity are welcoming, open-minded, and often have larger friend groups than those who are closed-minded.
Knowing oneself is crucially important to long-term happiness, and diversifying your friend or peer group can help you get there.
Better Workplace Acceptance
Increasing diversity leads to greater acceptance of POC or other minorities in the workplace. This, in turn, makes your workplace a more welcoming organization for people of all types.
No organization can get the absolute best talent for every available position by only hiring from one group. By opening your doors to a wider range of people, you’ll make your workplace more comfortable for minorities — and a more attractive choice of employment relative to your competitors for job seekers. This is true both for leadership roles and entry-level job functions.
Improvements in Productivity
The above benefit ties into the major economic benefit of diversity for companies: more productivity and, therefore, more profits. By making your workplace more attractive to the best talent regardless of who they are, you’ll:
- See improvements to workplace output
- Create more original ideas and see your business benefit from unique problem-solving skills
- Serve a wider audience
Plus, minority employees who work at your company will feel more comfortable and self-confident if they notice others like them at the same company.
Diversity and similarity are both critical, and comfortable minority employees do better work and provide your company with more advantages than minority employees who feel discriminated against or mistreated. They’ll have better mental health and more employee engagement if they work in a diverse group — thus, internal diversity is one of the main focuses of modern organizational diversity efforts.
Overall, increasing diversity leads to reduced unconscious bias among team members, better work results from drawing talent across different backgrounds, and many more benefits from incorporating different perspectives from diverse teams.
The ways in which diversity can improve your wellness and the wellness of others are always worth learning. Check out 1AND1 Life’s wellness guides and other tips today to discover even more about the benefits of diversity and how to cultivate it in your personal life and professional career.