Diversity and inclusion are two concepts that have become intrinsic to society. The Diversity dimension of D&I (Diversity and Incluision) is essential for the creation of an inclusive culture within companies, society and in the workplace. It is now widely accepted that equality – of gender, ethnicity and religion, among others – in education and employment is fundamental to economic growth and social cohesion. Diversity and inclusion bring tangible benefits to communities, drives the development of economic systems, and improves social relations within society.
As highlighted by a Deloitte report, social inclusion generates a series of economic advantages by strengthening social networks, increasing trust and reducing barriers, allowing people to reach their full potential.
These benefits generated by diversity and inclusion can be summarised into five key categories: increased workplace productivity, improved employment outcomes, better mental and physical health, reduced social services costs and inclusive growth.
Regarding the first point, diversity can undoubtedly be a source of creativity and innovation with a consequent increase in productivity; social inclusion can also incentivise profitability and help market segments.
On the second point, greater social inclusion means that people have less probability of facing discrimination, which increases their chances of getting a job or extending their working hours and therefore of actively contributing to economic growth.
On the third point – improved mental and physical health – it is worth mentioning that social inclusion can counteract isolation and increase a person’s participation in the community, which in turn helps alleviate health problems, especially mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
It is also important to remember that social inclusion reduces social services costs, which eases pressure on the public health system and reduces the need for income and housing benefits.
Increasing wages and worker participation in communities also means that the benefits of economic growth can be shared more fairly among all communities.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, progress in gender equality has stalled in a number of major economies. This is mainly due to closures imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which especially affected sectors with higher female employment.
However, there is some positive news, mainly from developing countries and especially Lithuania, Serbia, East Timor, Togo and the United Arab Emirates. These five countries have reduced their gender gap by at least 4.4 percentage points. East Timor and Togo also narrowed the economic gap by at least 17 percentage points during the past year.
For the twelfth time, Iceland is once again leading the way in terms of gender equality. Another noteworthy case is Rwanda, where numerous investments have been made in recent years to encourage gender equality, including a series of initiatives supporting female participation in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Among these initiatives is the Miss Geek Rwanda competition, promoted by Girls in ICT Rwanda that aims to encourage school-aged girls to develop innovative technological or entrepreneurial ideas.