Diversity and inclusion are critical for all organisations regardless of size to encourage, manage and grow. The benefits are both personal to individuals and beneficial to business productivity and engagements. In this piece, we discuss what workplace diversity is and how you can boost it within your organisation.
Differences create diversity
Diversity and inclusion are all about celebrating the differences we all have as individuals. From our different skills and experiences to how we think or approach challenges and interact with others are all differences that makeup diversity in the workplace; it’s just that we don’t often think about them in that way.
Organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion have proven benefits from increased financial success to higher employee engagement and retention statistics. Celebrating our differences and embracing diversity and inclusion are beneficial to business. These differences we all have are identified in law under the Equalities Act. The Act identifies nine protected characteristics for which it is unlawful to discriminate against someone.
The Equalities Act
The UK Equality Act identifies nine protected characteristics and protects everyone from discrimination for these characteristics that everyone has. The nine protected characteristics are:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
Every person recruited into an organisation, regardless of position, will have protected characteristics.
Class is one characteristic that is not listed under the Equalities Act. While class may not be recognised officially, the diversity that comes from working alongside peers from different backgrounds is essential to creating diversity. When an organisation employ-s people from diverse backgrounds, there will be a far more creative approach to problem-solving and innovations. There will also be a clearer reflection of the communities and customers the organisation serves.
What is Workplace Diversity?
Workplace diversity has intersectional dimensions, which UK legislation defines. For example, age, disability status, race, religion, gender, and others, are intersectional dimensions. Employing individuals with a variety of characteristics will help create an inclusive workplace culture and offer your organisation a variety of perspectives when it comes to decision making, higher employee engagement, and better company representation.
Recently the Pride and Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements have spotlighted the challenges and injustices that many from marginalised and underrepresented groups have to face. Understanding they are not only encountered in their private lives but also in their professional lives too. Though social media has been invaluable in raising awareness and sharing educational content, we believe that the real change must come from the hiring managers and decision-makers when it comes to improving workplace diversity. Now is the time to take action, somewhere do you start? We have a few suggestions.
Self-assessment and accountability
Look at the representation in your own company, where is there room for improvement, and how can you take positive action?
Here are some questions you should be asking:
- How diverse is your recruitment team/interview panel?
- Can you provide additional training and guidance internally?
- Do you provide diversity and inclusion training for your managers and recruitment team?
- Are the hiring panel and recruitment team aware of their own biases?
While the questions may cause, initial discomfort, honest and open answers will support positive growth and progress. Self-assessment is key to recognising any areas in your working practices that can be developed or improved so that you may deploy strategies to address them.
Once these questions have been successfully and honestly answered it is possible to take actionable and achievable steps. For example, creating a diversity strategy for the organisation and training current leaders and employees on diversity and inclusion. It’s helpful to note that an effective diversity and inclusion strategy will go above and beyond the minimum standard of hiring a handful of diverse candidates; it should be an ever-evolving process of self-assessment and improvement.
Are you looking for talent in all the usual places? The saying goes that if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. This goes for recruitment too. If you’re looking for talent in the same places, you will see the same type of candidates. Instead mix up your hiring search by using some of the niche job boards out there that specialise in attracting diverse candidates from underrepresented groups. Or you could acquire the help of an experienced recruitment consultant to do the legwork for you, ahem!
Is location an issue? If there’s one thing that lockdown has taught many organisations it’s that, given the right tools and a decent Wi-Fi connection, most employees can be as productive as usual while working entirely remotely. If remote working is something that your business can offer, then you can cast your recruitment net much wider than previously thought.
And, not to be overlooked is the power of networks, personal and professional. We all know the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’. Should a role or opportunity come up that will not be advertised in the usual channels or externally, consider seeking the support or use of networks of under-represented groups. You can tap into the network you already have; current employees from under-represented groups. They will have their network of friends, family, and past-co-workers who may have the skills and diversity you need, and they can come with an excellent recommendation, boosting diversity and broadening networks for everyone involves.
Lead from the front
To boost diversity and inclusion throughout the organisation, time must be invested and money, andsponsorship. Taking on diverse candidates in entry-level roles is easy, but what does your board look like? And their successors?
If your self-assessment highlights a lack of diversity in your board, start a pipeline. For example, here at Gleeson Recruitment Group, we saw that we lacked gender diversity across our senior management teams and board members, so we ran a management training course that targeted employees from the under-represented group. That’s not to say that they were treated any more favourably or chosen at the expense of other candidates – we believe in meritocracy wholeheartedly.
Our aim was to ensure that they had the confidence, knowledge, and training to put themselves forward for the next managerial position and be considered equal amongst other applicants. As a result, female representation at the management level up to board has increased by 60%.
How inclusive is your company culture?
When it comes to building a diverse workforce, it’s vital to continuously challenge company culture, question, create open discussions, and most crucially, listen to all the voices sharing their experiences and impressions. This is what successful inclusion looks like. . One of the main challenges organisations struggle with is retaining diversity for the mid-long term. There is little point in hiring a diverse team if they do not feel welcome enough to stay after the initial introduction to the organization.
The success of inclusion, of bringing in diverse employees and then allowing them to grow within it, should be measured on an organisation’s ability to adapt to and evolve according to the diversity of ideas, solutions, and innovations being raised.
One way to support the ongoing inclusivity of an organisation is to invest in diversity and inclusion training. Irrespective of role or rank, diversity and inclusion affect everyone in the organisation. Everyone has an important role to play in bringing it to life in the daily interactions they have.
To boost the awareness for senior members of staff, special training in team management focusing on diversity and inclusion is crucial. This specialist training can support them with the practical tools they need to provide an open platform of communication, where any potential issues can be discussed, acknowledged, and addressed in an approachable and professional manner.
Boosting workplace diversity and inclusion adds value to any organisation that commits to it and encourages employee wellbeing and engagement, often proven to increase productivity as a result.
The goal to create and maintain an inclusive environment where employees are accepted as individuals and feel their contributions are valued can be achieved with some straightforward actions. Actions that we can support you in setting out and then realising.
As a recruitment company, we recognise that we must ensure equality and diversity in our own recruitment process and in the service we provide to our clients because we are consistently recruiting on a large scale. And if recruiting a diverse workforce is something that you could use some assistance in, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.