Types of Workplace Diversity

by Christine Switzer; Updated September 26, 2017
The term “workplace diversity” is most often used to refer to differences in race, gender and age.

The term “workplace diversity” is most often used to refer to differences in race, gender and age. However, workplace diversity actually encompasses a range of cultural differences and dimensions, from ethnic and socioeconomic background to fundamental values and objectives.

Demographic

Demographic background encompasses age, gender and ethnicity.

The most basic type of workplace diversity is that of demographic background, which encompasses age, gender and ethnicity. Demographic diversity can also include professional degrees, work history and veteran and disability status.

Experiential

A military veteran will have unique ideas and perspectives due to their respective experiences

Varied life experiences represent another type of workplace diversity. For example, a military veteran or a retired athlete will have unique ideas and perspectives due to their respective experiences, as will a homemaker, a single parent and a political refugee.

Informational

An individual with an MBA will have a different base of knowledge and understanding than a high school dropout who became a self-made millionaire.

Informational diversity refers to differences in educational background and individual knowledge base. For example, an individual with an MBA will have a different base of knowledge and understanding than a high school dropout who became a self-made millionaire.

Fundamental

Individuals often have very different fundamental beliefs and goals about the importance, purpose and function of work, as well as the relationship between the individual employee and the larger organization.

Workplace diversity also encompasses more fundamental differences of values and objectives. Individuals often have very different fundamental beliefs and goals about the importance, purpose and function of work, as well as the relationship between the individual employee and the larger organization.

Considerations

Differences amongst people in the workplace can foster creative debate and innovation.

Some types of workplace diversity can contribute to conflict in negative ways, such as the interpersonal conflict that may arise between individuals of diverse demographic backgrounds. Other differences, though, can foster creative debate and innovative action, such as individual differences in experience and information base.

References

  • “Workplace Diversity”; Katharine C. Esty, Richard Griffin, Marcie Schorr Hirsch; 1995.
  • “Communicating at Work”; Ronald B. Adler, Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst; 2005.
  • Study of Workplace Diversity

About the Author

Christine Switzer has been a freelance writer since 2007. She contributes to travel and regional periodicals such as "Georgetown View" and "Burlington the Beautiful" and she enjoys writing on travel, lifestyle and the workplace. Switzer holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in English and has taught university courses in communication, public speaking and journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article