Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Myths and Misconceptions

Highlighting the common myths and misconceptions surrounding 'diversity' and 'inclusion'.
Myths and Misconceptions written on white title card, in front of 2 construction workers.

Welcome to section 1.4 of this course.

By now, you’ve learned what diversity and inclusion mean, and why they are important for a business and for our industry, but you still have some concerns. You’ve heard people complaining about, for example, affirmative action lowering standards or diversity negatively affecting a company’s bottom line. These worries may be keeping you from fully engaging with this course so let’s investigate them.

Myth: It’s 2022 – this isn’t still an issue.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. It may seem that we hear equality spoken about a huge amount but research shows the we still have a long way to go. In a recent paper published for the HR Research Institute, almost half of respondents confirmed that women were less than 40% of the people managers in their organisation. Looking at racial and ethnic diversity, 57% said that less than 20% of their people managers were members of minority groups.

The gender pay gap in the construction industry in the UK is above the national average at 20%. Anecdotally, those from a minority background receive 23% less pay than their white colleagues. These figures show that, despite what you might believe, there is still a long way to go to achieve equality.

Myth: Diverse employees will make decision-making harder.

This myth might seem to make sense, particularly if you’ve been in teams without diversity and it has taken a long time for decisions to be taken. Surely, in a team with lots of different types of people with various backgrounds, it must take even longer for everyone to reach agreement on an issue. And when you think about how many issues needs to be addressed in a meeting, you can’t imagine wanting to bring more diverse opinions into the equation.

You may be surprised to hear that the opposite is actually true. Inclusive teams have been shown to make decisions twice as fast and with half the meetings. In fact, not only do they make decisions faster, diverse teams actually out-perform individual decision-makers up to 87 percent of the time. Let’s think about why this may be the case.

In a group of people with the same approximate background, upbringing, education, etc, there aren’t likely to be a wealth of opposing opinions. Each member of the group has a similar worldview, which can lead to groupthink. Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of well-intentioned people makes irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible.4 However, when you expand the team to include more diversity, you automatically introduce different worldviews and experiences; by reducing the homogeneity, there is no longer a single opinion or identity to try and conform to.

Myth: If a company spends time on diversity & inclusion, it won’t have time to make as much money.

Given the current trend for EDI being introduced to companies, you’ll be glad to hear that this isn’t true! Recent studies have consistently found that companies with the best gender diversity on their senior leadership teams are more likely to have above-average profitability, and the higher the percentage of female executives, the more likely the company is to outperform those companies with less gender diversity amongst their executives.5 As discussed above, the broader the types of people involved in a team, the more varied the inputs will be. People’s background informs not only their knowledge, but also how they learn, react, think, and respond to situations. This leads to diverse groups generating unique ideas, which benefit the company.6

It should also be noted that clients/end-users of most products and services are diverse. If the team creating those products and services is homogeneous, how can it be expected to understand what the end-user wants and needs? Vice President Sherry Greenfield of Goldman Sachs University in Tokyo explains, “Our clients are diverse. The only way we are going to have diversity of thought is to have it as a fundamental business principle. The benefits of the business are more creativity, better service for our clients, and a positive impact on the business bottom line.”

I hope that this has addressed some of your concerns around diversity and inclusion. As you can see, there is a lot of research currently in the area of EDI, and the results are showing the positive outcomes of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Thank you for reading this week’s article and I hope that you

This article is from the free online

Diversity and Inclusion in the Built Environment

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now