What does diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace really mean?

Organisations that invest in diversity and inclusion in the workplace benefit from new perspectives, innovative thinking, higher employee satisfaction and a wider talent pool.

Diversity, equity and inclusion policies can help your organisation hire more diverse teams, provide fair opportunities for all employees and create a safe and inclusive workplace culture. Understanding what diversity, equity and inclusion mean is the first step.

In this guide to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we look at what diversity, equity and inclusion mean, how they can benefit your organisation and strategies you can start using today.

Diversity, equity and inclusion – what do they mean?

Diversity, equity and inclusion work together to create a positive workplace culture but they are actually very distinct concepts.

Understanding what each one means can help you identify areas your organisation could work on and potential solutions.


Diversity refers to the traits of the individuals in a group that make them different to each other.

Many businesses think about gender diversity, cultural diversity and ethnic diversity, but diversity can be much wider ranging. For example, you might also look for diversity in:

  • Physical and mental abilities
  • Sexual orientation
  • Location
  • Education
  • Spiritual and religious beliefs
  • Cultural background
  • Particular views/input into a project or discussion
  • Citizenship
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Marital status


Equity is about creating equal opportunities and fair access for everyone in the group.

The goal with equity is for every member of a diverse workforce to have equal and fair access to information, tools, opportunities and advancement.

Equity is different to equality. While equality says that everyone should be treated equally, treating everyone equitably takes into account that everyone is different and has different needs, experiences and opportunities.

For example, some employees may have mobility issues. Providing the appropriate facilities to accommodate for their needs (e.g. ramps instead of stairs) ensures that everyone can access the workplace safely.


Inclusion is about whether an individual feels that they belong and are valued in the workplace. In an inclusive work culture, every voice and perspective is heard and valued.

Having a diverse workforce doesn't necessarily lead to an inclusive workplace.

For example, a company might employ people with disability but employees with disability might not feel included due to stigma, pay discrepancies and lack of support.

Benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplaces

Organisations that work towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace experience a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Larger talent pool
  • Better employee engagement, trust and loyalty
  • New perspectives, creativity and innovation
  • Better employee performance and productivity
  • Stronger business reputation

Can you measure diversity and inclusion?

Diversity, equity and inclusion metrics don't tell the whole story, but they can be a helpful tool for monitoring your organisation's goals and avoiding blind spots.

There are many ways to measure diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Organisations should focus on areas that align with their structure and goals.

Some common areas for measuring diversity and inclusion in the workplace include:

  • Compare diversity in your recruitment pool vs diversity in your staff
  • Look at the diversity in your hiring panel
  • Compare diversity across organisational levels and teams
  • Conduct job satisfaction and employee wellbeing surveys
  • Look at job retention and employee turnover statistics
  • Look at diversity in the employees who are being promoted, attending training or accessing other opportunities

How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

1. Use diverse job boards

Consider where you are posting your job advertisements – and who uses those platforms.

Look for a diverse range of job boards and platforms to list your advertisements and attract a wider talent pool.

Try connecting with organisations such as a local Disability Employment Services provider to find diverse talent.

Speak with APM about how we can help you find the right people and build the team you need.

2. Make it accessible to apply for a job

Providing alternative submission methods can make your job openings more accessible."

Promote your organisation's commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion on your website and job advertisements – this can help attract a more diverse pool of candidates.

3. Provide diversity and inclusion training

Consider providing diversity and inclusion training for your organisation, particularly your leadership and recruitment teams.

Training can help your team understand the company's goals and vision for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

It's a great way to empower your team members to embrace workplace diversity and collaborate on solutions together.

4. Rethink your interview methods

Traditional interviews aren't always the best way to assess if a candidate is a good fit for the job.

Ask every candidate if they need any accommodations for the interview, instead of assuming.

Also, consider adapting your interview strategies to be more inclusive. Alternative options include work skills assessments, task based interviews and phone or message interviews.

5. Ask for employee input

Encourage employees to share their opinions, give feedback and contribute their ideas.

Creating safe opportunities for everyone to be heard can help employees feel more valued and included.

Making company decisions with employee experience in mind can also help improve efficiency, team morale and employee satisfaction.

6. Provide workplace accommodations

Workplace accommodations are a practical way to support your employees and create fair opportunities for everyone.

Everyone has different needs, so it's important to regularly check in with your team about accommodations, flexible work options and support.

Consider getting professional help assessing your workplace for accommodations, accessibility and inclusivity.

APM offers diverse workforce planning services and work modification assistance for Australian employers hiring people with disability. Speak to us about how we can assist you.

7. Celebrate employee differences

Work towards a company culture that celebrates the differences between employees and values everyone's unique contributions.

Part of that journey involves empowering your employees to work in roles where they can use their strengths.

Get support to build a diverse and inclusive workplace

Implementing diversity initiatives and improving inclusivity in the workplace can be a challenge. Consider getting support from an organisation such as APM.

We work with Australian employers and employees to access workplace support, modifications, funding, wage subsidies, diversity planning and more.

If you're a job-seeker or employee living with an injury, illness or disability, APM can help you with finding suitable job opportunities, accessing workplace support, accessing funding and workplace assessments.

Call us on 1800 276 276 to see how we can support you.