Diversity and inclusion in your workforce
The terms diversity and inclusion have somewhat become buzz words in the employment world recently, with both employers and employees becoming more aware of the impact that a diverse workforce can have.
From an employer’s perspective, a diverse and inclusive workforce can have many benefits, but above all, shows that they value all employees which can lead to enhanced productivity.
What does diversity and inclusion actually mean?
Everyone is unique and different with an array of personalities and skills; and diversity is about realising and acknowledging this. A diverse workforce with employees of different sex, nationality, age and experiences among other things, can promote innovation and a positive brand image.
Inclusion on the other hand, is more about valuing those differences and creates an environment whereby nobody feels left out, that they don’t belong or that they have to conform to the ‘norm’.
Why would I want a diverse and inclusive workforce?
Ultimately, most employees want to feel valued at work and to have an environment where they feel that their contributions are recognised. If you can create this, then you’ve got a far better chance of not only recruiting talented employees, but more importantly, retaining them.
If attracting talented employees isn’t a good enough reason, then maybe trying to minimise the risk of a discrimination claim is! There are various protected characteristics in employment law and if an employee is discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic, you could find a claim form landing on your desk!
So, how can we increase diversity and inclusion?
There are a few steps that you can take to enhance your diversity and inclusion:
Implement effective policies: It’s all well and good having diversity policies in place, but if they’re not being utilised and implemented, then what’s the point in having it?
It starts at the top: Most of the time change starts at the top. For the workforce to buy into it, they need to see senior management adopt the same thought processes and strategies that they are being asked to implement
Regular training should be given to the whole workforce, including senior management, to ensure that everyone is aware of the behaviours and standards expected from them and to help imbed the company’s culture and values
Address your unconscious bias: Unconscious bias is when someone’s life experiences and beliefs shape their views about others which might not be right or reasonable
Unconscious bias can have a negative impact on the workforce, especially when managers are forced to make quick decisions and are required to use their instinctive response – chances are, they will make a decision based on people that are deemed to be similar to themselves
Reduce the ‘unconscious’ element. If you create a workforce which calls out any biases, then they are no longer unconscious and can be dealt with
It’s not a numbers game: It goes without saying that focussing on hiring a certain ‘type’ of employee could improve your diversity figures, i.e. realising that there are a disproportionately low number of employees with a certain characteristic and actively recruiting to increase this, but actually that won’t create an inclusive culture
Again, it goes beyond just hiring for numbers. For a company to consider themselves to be diverse and inclusive, it needs to be able to retain a wide range of employees and create a culture in which everyone feels valued
Minimise ‘banter’: Whilst you don’t have to become the fun police, you need to be aware when what seems like harmless joking can cross the line and cause offence; a workplace can hardly be considered inclusive if employees feel like they are being bullied!