Workforce Diversity and Safety
Diversity in the workplace refers to the differences among employees in an organization, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, education, and socioeconomic status. It also includes differences in experiences, perspectives, and skills employees bring to the workplace. Embracing diversity means creating a work environment that respects and values these differences and promotes inclusivity, equity, and mutual respect among all employees.
Diversity can have a significant impact on workplace safety. According to a recent article from Safety+Health Magazine, "diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace are a safety issue"]. Studies have shown that differences in language, culture, religion, job security, and prior experience can all contribute to worse safety outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities. On the other hand, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion can lead to a safer workplace by encouraging worker empowerment and safety, developing culturally responsive training and technology, and creating policies that promote anonymous reporting. Furthermore, inclusion in the workplace can decrease stress levels, leading to better health outcomes for employees.
However. the health and safety field still needs more diversity. Many people working in manufacturing, construction, food processing, and other industries belong to minorities. Yet, the vast majority of safety managers are white and male. The analysis found that only one in five health and safety managers are women.
Despite efforts to increase diversity in the field, progress has needed to be faster. While there has been an increase in the number of women and minorities in the area, they still face barriers to advancement and representation in leadership positions. However, initiatives are underway to increase diversity and inclusion in the health and safety field.
According to the US Department of Labor statistics, the workforce is becoming more diverse. In 2019, most new working-age hires were people of color — a first in our history. In addition, women are now the majority in the workforce, holding 109,000 more jobs than men. As our country becomes more diverse, these trends will only continue.
Several strategies can be implemented to make a workplace more diverse and inclusive. One approach is to make diversity and inclusion a core value of the organization rather than just a checkbox item. This means actively seeking out and valuing diverse perspectives and ensuring everyone feels included and respected in the workplace. Another strategy is to challenge unconscious bias, which can be done through training and education. Developing solid anti-discrimination policies, welcoming remote and hybrid team members, and maximizing opportunities for connection can also help increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace.