"Celebrate Diversity Month” began in April 2004 as a way to recognize and celebrate the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and traditions we all represent. The celebration of both our differences and our similarities as humans allows us to gain a better understanding of each other.

A diverse workplace includes people that fall within a number of different categories, including religion, culture, sexual orientation, language, educational and socio-economic backgrounds, age, and physical and mental abilities, among others. In order to have an inclusive work environment, the contributions and perspectives of all employees must be considered and valued at the same level.

The following are some of the benefits that come from fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace:

  • Reduced employee turnover – Employees who can feel comfortable  themselves in the workplace are likely to feel more valued and accepted, thus increasing the likelihood that they will remain long-term employees.
  • Increased financial performance – Results of research by McKinsey & Company showed that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median.
  • More creative and innovative ideas – Employees with different backgrounds will have different life experiences, and thus different perspectives. Research shows that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their space.
  • Attracting talent – By fostering an environment that is accepting of diverse employees, it widens the pool of potential hires.

Here are some are some ways you can expand your knowledge and understanding of diversity and inclusion related topics:

  • Support minority-owned businesses – Whether it’s a night out for an outdoor dinner or a socially distanced indoor meal, or a trip to your local women-owned bookstore, there are many ways to support minority-owned businesses, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can utilize the Small Business Association website to search for minority-owned businesses, or this NJ.com post that provides a guide to Black-owned businesses in the state.
  • Watch a documentaryA documentary is a great way to learn about different cultures. Netflix has a Social & Cultural Documentaries section which can allow you to expand your own personal knowledge of different cultures without having to leave your couch.
  • Try a new recipe – Fod is a great way to bridge the gap between cultures. If you enjoy cooking, consider learning about a recipe from a different culture, and making that recipe yourself. Learning about the history of a recipe and its importance to the culture can be an eye-opening experience. This list from BuzzFeed provides some recipes from cultures around the world.
  • Read a book – Some people prefer reading over watching television, and in that case, there are an endless amount of books to read on the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This list, from Forbes Senior Contributor Janice Gassam Asare, is a great place to start if you are looking to read more diverse narratives. As Asare wrote in this post, “One of the best ways to better understand the experiences of marginalized and underrepresented groups is through storytelling.”
  • Attend a cultural art exhibit, or go to the Google Arts & Culture Site – Many of the museums and exhibits in New York City have reopened amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with new rules in place for social distancing. However, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of attending these places in person, Google has a great Arts & Culture site where you can learn about art throughout different countries and time periods.
  • Sign up for Diversity & Inclusion course – LinkedIn Learning provides a number of courses on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and this Business Insider post also provides links to other free online courses on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These are just some of the ways that you can participate in Celebrate Diversity Month. With the implementation of some of these activities you will gain an overall better understanding of the importance of diversity and with that, inclusion and equity. Further, expanding your knowledge and your own understanding of diversity will help you foster better relationships, not only in your work-life, but in your personal life as well.

Megan Kelly is a Manager in Forensic Accounting/Litigation Services Group, SobelCo. Megan has worked on a number of challenging forensic assignments including financial institutions, a major telecommunications company, governmental and state agencies, and several closely held businesses. She was also a member of the firm’s 1 World Trade Center Integrity Monitoring team.