What’s The Difference Between ‘Diversity’ and ‘Inclusion’?

Diversity and inclusion, or D&I, are two words that are often used as if they were one concept or are synonymous with each other. However, in reality they are two very distinct terms that refer to very different approaches to who makes up your workforce and how you treat them. 

What’s the difference between diversity and inclusion?


Diversity refers to the different people that make up your workforce and is often associated with race, but also refers to a diversity of ages, gender, religions, sexual orientation, cultural or socio-economic backgrounds. Neurodiversity is also gaining more recognition as a form of diversity to be celebrated and appreciated.  


Inclusion refers to the value that you ascribe to your workforce’s opinions, contributions, efforts and successes. It is how your company culture provides equal opportunities and a voice to all the different people that make up your diverse workforce. 

Many organisations put a lot of effort into creating diverse hiring strategies to increase the diversity of their teams, however sometimes a problem arises when their company culture has not caught up and created a supportive environment for those different people to contribute to the organisation equally. Instead, they continue to attribute greater value to the established demographics that make up either the majority of the C-suite, or the organisation as a whole. This is where it is important to make inclusivity as central to your company culture as diversity and echo diversity at every level of your corporate structure. 

5 benefits of an inclusive workplace

When every member of your workforce feels comfortable and that their contributions and ideas are recognised and valued, there are many benefits to your organisation. We picked out just five but there are many more:

1. Job satisfaction and better retention

When employees are confident in their value and voice within the workplace, morale is naturally higher. Empowered employees are also less likely to look for new roles, thus reducing company turnover and recruitment costs.

2. Organic innovation

If your organisation has nailed diversity than you will have a diversity of thought that will naturally lead to greater innovation and creativity. Inclusivity allows you to efficiently leverage all great ideas and stops your strategic approach from being homogeneous and resistant to change.

3. Greater insight

Having a diverse workforce supported by an inclusive culture means that you will be able to better understand, translate and leverage the diversity of your customers’ demographics. Leading to better sales, higher revenue and supported growth.

4. Higher productivity

A McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. Higher productivity will naturally positively impact your bottom line. 

5. Better talent attraction 

Happy, appreciated and valued diverse workforces are a great advertisement for your company culture and can be actively leveraged as part of your employer branding. With the rise of anonymous workplace evaluation platforms, like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, your current and even former employees can be advocates for your company culture and help attract top talent to work for you. 

How to create an inclusive culture to support your diverse workforce

Step 1. Assess your current culture

The first step would be to gauge how inclusive your culture currently is. A great way to do this is to consult with a team of diverse employees via anonymous questionnaires. This will allow your team to provide honest answers without the fear of being judged or punished for criticism. 

Analysing the results will allow you to create a roadmap and SMART goals to change what needs to be changed.

Step 2. Create support for change

This can be tricky but your Board, C-suite or exec level management need to buy into change. This means clearly articulating the benefits of inclusivity and encouraging top-down buy in and how you plan to achieve it. 

Step 3. Execute your strategy

This is dependent on what areas of improvement you identified during the assessment stage but could include adjusting processes to be more inclusive, providing training on unconscious biases, creating structure inclusive leadership training, and much more.

We’re here to help

When you’re looking to build an inclusive and diverse team for your organisation or are looking to make a permanent or interim hire, Barclay Simpson can help you grow and provide ongoing guidance and support. 

We’re also on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have about diversity or inclusion during your recruitment process, please give us a call on 020 7936 2601 or send an email to ds@barclaysimpson.com