A business without a diversity and inclusion policy is one that will have to play serious catch-up in this day and age. Not only does it come across as outdated and old hat, skipping out on such a policy might mean missing out on top talent and a competitive advantage that could bring a business real success.
With that said, it’s not enough to simply have a diversity and inclusion policy. Cementing it into the company culture makes a big difference, one that lets businesses benefit in a number of powerful ways.
But just how can diversity and inclusion be properly implemented and promoted through your company? Let’s take a look below…
Why diversity and inclusion is important
Before we explore the how, let’s investigate the why a bit more first. A workplace which is genuinely diverse and inclusive matters for the following reasons:
Attracting more talent
A diverse, inclusive company can open itself up to a wider pool of talent to choose from when it’s time to hire new staff. Candidates are more attracted to a company that isn’t solely motivated by just making financial gains.
When they know their differences are celebrated, employees feel better represented, are more comfortable at work, and are more empowered to do better in their roles. This all translates to a positive environment that lets employees know that they matter, giving them less reason to look for positions elsewhere.
Improved company reputation
Diversity and inclusion in practice projects a strong public image, one that can strengthen a business’ relationships with customers, clients, suppliers and, perhaps most importantly, future employees.
More diverse thinking
A deeper, more diverse pool of people means that a company can rely on the varied experiences and skills to deal with challenges in more creative, distinct ways – rather than everyone approaching things with the same way of thinking.
Whether a company is motivated mainly by money or not, there’s still a great business case to be made for diversity and inclusion. And the sum total of all of the above benefits adds up to better business performance compared to your competitors.
How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Want to put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your company’s culture? You can make sure you’re actively promoting them both with the help of these must-do approaches.
Eliminate unconscious biases
Before you begin openly and outwardly promoting diversity and inclusion, then removing the biases that might be bubbling away in the background is an important starting point.
But what do we mean by unconscious bias? These are assumptions that people may have without actually realising them, as a result of others’ backgrounds, personal experiences and societal/cultural stereotypes. As such, they can create a negative environment for employees, so it’s important to deal with them early on.
You can do this by encouraging employees to hold a mirror up to their own biases and assumptions.
Lead by example
Practising what a company preaches doesn’t always start from the top. But diversity and inclusion can more effectively weave itself into the business culture when those in senior positions set the right examples. If the senior team won’t express an interest in promoting diversity and inclusion, then it’s going to be tough to get employees to follow suit too.
As well as promoting the values of diversity and inclusion, you could even hire leaders who themselves are diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, for instance. When the makeup of an executive team embodies diversity, it becomes far easier to instil amongst a company’s culture.
Welcome and respect different voices
When leaders are open-minded and empathetic to others’ differences, then a culture that listens, values and respects diverse differences amongst the team should begin to follow. Employees should feel comfortable expressing themselves and their identity, regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or background.
And a lot of this comes down to basic decency. Things like not playing favourites, being more mindful of cultural and societal differences and learning to embrace more inclusive practices can all go a long way – send a message to others that they feel safe to let their voice be heard, whatever they’re raising.
This might even extend to having spaces where people can practice their beliefs, such as rooms where employees can pray or meditate. Something like this shows that you’re genuinely respectful of your employees, whatever their backgrounds are.
Tackle pay inequality
Gender and pay equality is always going to be a hot topic when it comes to diversity. And with the Equality Act 2010 there to protect people from discrimination within the workplace, a company touting its diversity and inclusion won’t pass muster if equal work doesn’t mean equal pay.
There are plenty of analytics you can explore to identify who’s being underpaid for similar roles or responsibilities – as well as any trends or patterns with these groups of people. And if there are gaps, then it’s important to be transparent about them. What are you doing to address the gap going forward?
Raise awareness of cultural and religious differences
Educating employees on differences amongst your workforce allows diversity and inclusion to flourish. For instance, you might decide to acknowledge cultural or religious holidays throughout the year, or hold culture days that allow employees from a range of different backgrounds speak about themselves or their culture.
You could even discuss activities with them so others can learn more about particular communities in a memorable, interactive way. Using it as a learning opportunity allows others to be more respectful of colleagues in ways that might not previously have been.
Weave it into training and inductions
For new hires to start as you want them to go on, make diversity and inclusion part of your inductions. Use it as a time to talk them through your policies, how to deal with sensitive workplace subjects and any procedures should they need to raise issues surrounding discriminatory behaviour.
And since people don’t just start being inclusionary, make sure you’re taking the time to educate and train your managers and team leaders. Diversity training will give them a chance to understand how cultural differences impact the way others work. An extensive programme can cover everything from different communication styles and conflict resolution to the ways in which people self-identify. Whether it’s through internal resource or using an external consultant, diversity training can help employees align with a company’s diversity and inclusion policies as well as its broader business goals.
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