DEI | Building a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Building a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

In today’s interconnected and diverse world, inclusion is vital. Its benefits go beyond its ability to provide equal opportunities, making it a strategic advantage. As well as providing varied perspectives, it is also a key factor in talent choosing an employer. A 2020 Glassdoor survey found that 76% of employees find a diverse workplace important.

This article explores ways to create a diverse team and make the workplace a more inclusive environment for all. It also delves into how businesses can benefit both socially and financially from this. We'll discuss how organisations can hire inclusively, provide training to tackle biases and create a supportive atmosphere.

What does diversity mean?

Diversity encompasses differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, socio-economic background, and abilities. Diverse workforces utilise the richness that comes from people with varied life experiences, skills, and viewpoints. It isn't just about meeting quotas; it's about tapping into a range of skills and ideas. It's creating an environment where everyone can contribute their strengths authentically. Embracing diversity fosters innovation, creativity, and overall organisational excellence.

The benefits of diversity

The benefits of a diverse workforce are numerous. First and foremost, diverse teams are known for their enhanced problem-solving abilities. Research has found that diverse teams make objectively better decisions 87% of the time. The inclusion of various perspectives leads to more creative and innovative solutions to challenges.

Moreover, a diverse workforce can better understand and serve a diverse customer base. In a LinkedIn survey, 60% of businesses said one of the key factors to their success was their diverse sales team. This also extends to leadership, where companies with diverse leadership see an increase in revenue of up to 19%.

Beyond business outcomes, a workplace that celebrates diversity creates mutual respect and understanding. These values are desirable to employees, creating higher levels of satisfaction and retention. In summary, the advantages of a diverse workforce extend far beyond the office walls. It has the potential to impact the long-term success and reputation of an organisation.

Inclusive hiring practices

Effective change begins with recruitment. It is the first point of contact with candidates, and the first-place discrimination can happen. When surveyed, over a third (34%) of people have felt discriminated against while applying for a job. Creating an inclusive hiring process involves making recruitment procedures accessible to candidates. This includes using language free from gender or cultural bias in job descriptions. It also means making application processes accessible by providing support for those with disabilities. By removing barriers to entry, organisations can attract a more diverse pool of talent.

Another important part of any inclusive hiring process is a diverse interview panel. We all have an unconscious bias that can’t be completely eliminated. However, diverse hiring panels can reduce how much an unconscious bias impacts hiring decisions. They are also more attuned to appreciating a wider range of talents. This leads to a workforce enriched by a variety of skills and perspectives. More literally, it sends a powerful message to candidates that your organisation values diversity at every level.

Diversity-focused training

Combatting biases requires more than awareness; it demands a commitment to education. In 2023, most people understand what discrimination is. This means training needs to go deeper and create anti-discriminatory practices in workplaces. 81% of employers in the Race at Work Charter organised ‘ally effectiveness and anti-racism training’ in the workplace. This active approach goes beyond awareness, helping employees become better allies for marginalised groups.

However, for inclusion to truly integrate into workplace culture, ongoing training is essential. This ensures that diversity is part of the business, not just 'performative allyship'. This means ensuring diversity is a core value and not for optics or personal gain.

Creating a supportive environment

Sustaining an inclusive workplace requires creating an environment where employees feel supported. This involves establishing policies and practices that promote a healthy work-life balance and equal opportunities for career advancement.

This could mean flexible working arrangements or providing accessible furniture and office spaces. When surveyed, 78% of disabled employees said they had to initiate making adjustments to meet their needs. Once started, only 10% felt the process was easy. To mitigate this, have regular one-to-ones with staff. This gives managers insight into where to make adjustments. These could include working from home, special furniture or extra leave time.

Conclusion

In conclusion, fostering diversity and inclusion is more than just a checkbox exercise. It is a dynamic and ongoing process that requires commitment and a strategic approach. However, it also has a host of benefits, both financial and social. By adopting inclusive hiring practices, implementing effective training programmes, and creating a supportive environment, businesses can reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.

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