A look at inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. Why is it important and what you can do to be proactive in this area.
Over the past year more and more conversations which take a look at inclusivity and diversity in the workplace have been happening. Company leaders are waking up to diversity in the workplace, what it means and how it can make a positive impact their business and employees.
These three studies give more information on the business case for greater diversity and inclusivity.
What does UK law cover?
The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. This Act brings several previous laws on anti-discrimination together, to try to make the legal requirements easier to understand. The legislation also gives better levels of protection for some situations.
The Equality Act covers discrimination based on the following:
- gender reassignment,
- religion or belief,
- sexual orientation,
- marriage or civil partnership,
- pregnancy and maternity.
The Act sets out the minimum standards required by the law. However, for your organisation to achieve higher levels of employee engagement and business success you will need to go further than just basic legal compliance.
What are inclusivity and diversity?
Inclusion and diversity are often linked together but they are in fact different from one another.
Inclusion is where the individual’s differences are valued and used so everyone can thrive at work. The inclusive working environment is where everyone feels they belong but without having to conform. It is a place where it is your contribution which matters most. A place where each person can perform to their full potential, no matter their background, identity or circumstances.
Diversity is about recognising difference. It acknowledges the benefit of having a range of perspectives in decision-making. It creates a workforce representative of the wider society.
In other words. Diversity is about differences. Inclusion is about embracing those differences.
For an inclusive workplace your will need fair policies and practices which support a diverse range of people and which help them work together well. The CIPD have created Understanding inclusion in your organisation which is a health checking tool and gets you to reflect on the inclusion practices within your organisation.
Improving diversity and inclusivity in your workplace.
Hire for Diversity
- Check your job adverts for gendered or other biased wording
- Look at your current recruitment methods, such as job boards and web sites. Are you reaching the widest possible audience?
- Review your benefits package and flexible working policies. If flexible working is available but not used, then find out why this is happening.
- Include flexibility in all job design and specifications. To be creative about how jobs can be done think of different ways of doing the work, including, part-time hours, job sharing, flexible hours/locations.
Manage for inclusion
- Create an inclusive leadership to make sure everyone is onboard.
- Encourage an environment of open communication. Click here to read the CIPD fact sheet and learn about the Employee Voice .
- Describe behaviours which help your commitment of greater inclusion.
- Write these behaviours in job descriptions.
- Embed these behaviours into all line managerial roles.
- Make it clear that everyone has a personal responsibility to uphold these standards of behaviour.
- Make sure recruitment and development decisions are based on merit, competence and potential. Look out for possible conscious or unconscious bias in decision making.
- Put diversity & inclusion ideas and practises into induction and employee training courses.
- Create processes to deal with harassment and bullying.
- Make it clear such behaviour is not tolerated in your organisation.
- Set out what will happen to employees who don’t follow your code of behaviour.
- Keep employees up to date with changes to company policy and practise. Use different ways to do this, for instance: notice boards, team meetings, newsletter, intranets.
- Ask for ideas from your staff. Take action on their feedback.
Measure your effectiveness
- Regularly check your progress toward greater inclusivity.
- Collect good quality people data in order to find barriers to progress and solutions.
- Use employee surveys to find out if policies are working for everyone. Create a platform for improvement.
- Put inclusion and diversity objectives in job descriptions and performance reviews. Recognise and reward achievement.
- Explore what others are doing by benchmarking. Adopt or adapt ideas for your own use.
- Keep up to date on the issues.
- Share learning with others, inside and outside your organisation.
When take a look at inclusivity and diversity in the workplace we find the world is constantly changing. Businesses need to attract and keep the best candidates in order to keep up with these changes. By increasing the diversity of your workforce and championing inclusivity you will be able to do this more easily. You will also have better employee retention, which is another key part of the continued success, and future expansion of your business.