Improving Diversity in the Workplace

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Workplace diversity is a hot-button topic influenced by complex and subtle factors, with no apparent one-size-fits-all solution. Organizations use various techniques and tactics to attract qualified minority talent but sometimes struggle with achieving lasting change. Poor employee retention, a lack of mentoring programs, and a poor workplace culture, for example, can deter qualified minority candidates from applying to or sticking with a job.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the Ohio University online Master of Public Administration program.

How business can utilize tools and tactics to help foster a more inclusive workforce.

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Statistics of Diversity In the U.S. Workplace

In 2018, women and ethnic minorities in the U.S. filled positions in which they were minorities and did not earn pay equal to that of their white male colleagues.

Working Women and Minorities in 2018

The percentage of employed women and minorities fluctuated within various industries in 2018. For instance, women represented 52.6% of financial activities employees, but only 29.2% of manufacturing workers. African-Americans filled 16.9% of public administration roles, and just 9.9% of professional and business services jobs. 18% of wholesale and retail trade professionals were Hispanic, and Hispanics held 11.7% of the public administration job share. Asians represented 9% of all professional and business pros, and 4.4% of all public administration workers.

Earnings in 2018

Unfortunately, there is still a noticeable gender-driven wage gap in business. Men earned median weekly earnings of $973 in 2018, while the median weekly earnings for women was $789 – just 81% of what men earned. This gap was particularly prevalent in specific occupations. For example, male physicians and surgeons hauled in median weekly earnings of $2,513, and female physicians and surgeons saw median weekly earnings of $1,677. Additionally, chief executives’ median weekly earnings in 2018 were $2,488, while women in the same occupation earned median weekly earnings of $1,736.

What Influences a Lack of Diversity in the Workplace?

Studies have shed light on the complexities of workplace diversity and helped to define the challenges business managers and leaders face in developing solutions.

There are several roadblocks that impede diversity. Some of these relate to employers. For instance, bias in recruiting and management practices can reduce the rate of increasing workplace diversity and could potentially become self-perpetuating. Low turnover rates could also have an impact on how quickly workplace diversity can increase in some cases.

Other stumbling blocks are resource-based. Minority and low-income individuals may struggle to gain access to education, health care, and economic resources. Minorities may also be discouraged by a lack of role models working in the positions they would like to secure. Additionally, job candidates with atypical backgrounds may be disadvantaged by a lack of training opportunities when seeking to make a career change.

Additionally, various issues based on perceptions and expectations may deter diversity. Pursuing a career in a certain industry or position that has stereotypes for workers may be discouraging to those who don’t fit the profile. Cultural and society may also set predetermined expectations for men and women across ethnicities to pursue careers in certain industries. It should also be noted that not all careers carry equal appeal to women and minorities, and that women may prioritize family responsibilities above career advancement.

How to Make Lasting Improvements in Workplace Diversity

Managers, leaders, and recruiters have many resources and tools at their disposal to help them overcome the obstacles standing in the way of workplace diversity.

There are several tips businesses can use to assure workplace diversity. For instance, they can intensify their focus on retaining minority employees. They can also find local organizations that can connect businesses with qualified candidates, like churches or cultural institutions. Additionally, they can collaborate with nonprofit organizations like the National Urban League to help find minority job candidates. Businesses may also want to implement an equal opportunity employment policy or a mentoring program. They can also increase transparency in the recruiting process as well as in the communication for advancement opportunities. Some of the tactics they can deploy could also focus on flexibility, such as offering on-site day care services or flexible schedules.

Initiatives and Resources for Businesses

The National Diversity Council provides vital resources that businesses can use to promote workforce diversity. The council’s goal is to “advocate the diversity as a business imperative to increase our chances to innovate and create sustainable wealth for our communities.”

One of the ways they strive to achieve this goal is through their DiversityFIRST Toolkit. This toolkit is offered as a resource to train employees over several areas associated to inclusion. This includes areas like gender, LGBTQA, cultural competence, and multigenerational diversity. It also touches on other areas that may not seem as directly related at first glance, such as health care and the legal industry.


The diversity movement has helped raise awareness of the obstacles standing in the way of workplace diversity. Business leaders should be encouraged by the progress that has already been made and continue to use all of the resources available to them in their pursuit of fairness and equality in hiring and management practices.