HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

Inclusion that works for all employees

Employers say they’re addressing workplace diversity but are they doing enough to support inclusion?
Inclusion that works for all employees
 

Are employers genuinely including minorities?


Employers say they’re addressing workplace diversity but are they doing enough to support inclusion?

 
 

 

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a concept that everyone in HR speaks dutifully about. Some cite D&I as an employers’ moral obligation: to ensure that employees are given equal opportunities in the workplace, are free from discrimination and harassment, and are given a safe culture to thrive in. Others, whilst not forgetting the former, cite D&I as a business imperative. Research from Boston Consulting Group states that companies boasting greater diversity among management teams enjoy revenues up to 19% higher than competitors. McKinsey stats also show that ethnically diverse companies outperform competitors by, on average, 35%. Yet, whilst firms talk a good diversity talk there is still an apparent disconnect between the talking and the doing. Whilst a global PwC study found that employers are committed to cultivating diverse and inclusive workforces, they are struggling to bridge the gap between want and execution.

 

Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance

 

‘We have a long way to go’

Peter Cheese, CEO at CIPD, presently doesn’t think employers are doing enough to genuinely include minorities into the workforce. “The truth is we have a very long way to go,” he explains. “Ethnic diversity is genuinely one of the most challenging areas because we know [as a function] that there are so many biases, prejudices and societal [influences] that surround race and ethnicity and we have to be honest about that. We have to dig deeper in terms of understanding things like bias and conscious bias; we have to dig deeper in terms of understanding how we create safe cultures and environments where people can speak up because so many of the issues around ethnicity, [are caused by the fact] that people dance around the subject and they don’t talk about it on a human level,” Cheese adds.

Yet whilst there has been unignorable progress CIPD’s CEO explains that overall it isn’t good enough. In order for businesses to make genuine progress in the D&I space, he says that employers need to link D&I initiatives to strategic business imperatives and outcomes, rather than viewing it as some form of “compliance or a political correctness thing”. While Cheese may suggest that more work is needed to facilitate workplace inclusion, some employers appear to be on the right tracks.

People dance around the subject and they don’t talk about it on a human level

 

Employee resource groups

Anne Kiely, EMEA Lead HR Business Partner at Twitter told HR Grapevine that for Twitter inclusion is happening because the business genuinely wants to. “I can one million per cent tell you that Twitter as an organisation is doing it because we want to. We want our employees and our company to reflect our service and our service, as you know, is to serve the public conversation. So, we have to, and we want to employ all of the different cultures and all of the different voices that our platform expects us to have,” Kiely explains.

To build a sense of community and inclusion among the workforce at Twitter, Kiely says that the social networking behemoth has introduced Business Resource Groups (BRGs) which are sought to support the firm’s values and spur Twitter’s commitment to create a more globally diverse and inclusive workforce. The BRGs, which are spearheaded by employees sharing mutual passions, include employee resource groups like Twitter Women and Twitter Open – which operates for the business’ LGBT+ community. Employees are continually coming up with new resource groups that will benefit the culture going forwards. “We have a new employee who wants to improve the social aspect of onboarding for our new hires and has started a Twitter BRG called Twitter Hatchlings. She is making sure that people who join are integrated and have buddies which is really wonderful. It has really driven the culture around here,” Kiely adds.

 

We want our employees and our company to reflect our service and our service, as you know, is to serve the public conversation

Listening to employees

Alastair Gill, Head of People at Giffgaff says that when striving to include minorities, employers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of listening to their people. One way that Giffgaff has created a more inclusive culture is through the introduction of Diversigaff. The community-led initiative allows people to come together and try to understand what Giffgaff needs to do going forwards and is an opportunity for employees to share, educate and learn about one another. “We want people to feel that they belong at Giffgaff, we don’t want this perfect quota. We just want to listen to everybody and ask questions,” he explains. The importance of carving out a sense of belonging is crucial for employees to feel included in the organisation. Research from LinkedIn has found that more than half (51%) of survey respondents cited having the opportunity to freely express their opinions increased their sense of workplace belonging. 46% quoted an employer who cares about them as an individual as an important factor, too.

With that in mind, Gill explains that the telephone network allows employees to pick their own public holidays. “The British public holidays are roughly based around a very Christian calendar; we are no longer in a purely Christian country and we haven’t been for a long time. It’s one of those rules which we’ve just accepted,” Gill concludes. After hearing about different religious celebrations such as Eid and Ramadan from their employees, Giffgaff realised that they so often talked about flexibility and choice, yet they were still giving employees fixed public holidays. So, they now allow their employees to pick their own public holidays – an initiative which Spotify introduced a few years back. This, explains Gill, has only increased a sense of belonging.

 

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken

- Oscar Wilde

 

‘D&I isn’t just a few initiatives’

Whilst Twitter employees are encouraged to join community groups that align with their passions and identity, and Giffgaff staff are able to pick their own public holidays to coincide with what works for them, as an individual, successfully helping employees feel included at work boils down to a solid understanding of the workforce demographic. CIPD’s Cheese explains that employers who have failed to understand their workforce across some of the key diversity metrics won’t be in a good place to make a difference – even if they’ve got some shiny new schemes in place to help. “It’s great to see a focus on it now, but I think we’re all understanding much better that [D&I] is not just a few initiatives and a bit of compliance training or diversity training. It’s a lot deeper than that and we have got to embrace that [to make better progress going forwards],” he concludes.

 

 

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a concept that everyone in HR speaks dutifully about. Some cite D&I as an employers’ moral obligation: to ensure that employees are given equal opportunities in the workplace, are free from discrimination and harassment, and are given a safe culture to thrive in. Others, whilst not forgetting the former, cite D&I as a business imperative. Research from Boston Consulting Group states that companies boasting greater diversity among management teams enjoy revenues up to 19% higher than competitors. McKinsey stats also show that ethnically diverse companies outperform competitors by, on average, 35%. Yet, whilst firms talk a good diversity talk there is still an apparent disconnect between the talking and the doing. Whilst a global PwC study found that employers are committed to cultivating diverse and inclusive workforces, they are struggling bridge to the gap between want and execution.

 

 

‘We have a long way to go’

Peter Cheese, CEO at CIPD, presently doesn’t think employers are doing enough to genuinely include minorities into the workforce. “The truth is we have a very long way to go,” he explains. “Ethnic diversity is genuinely one of the most challenging areas because we know [as a function] that there are so many biases, prejudices and societal [influences] that surround race and ethnicity and we have to be honest about that. We have to dig deeper in terms of understanding things like bias and conscious bias; we have to dig deeper in terms of understanding how we create safe cultures and environments where people can speak up because so many of the issues around ethnicity, [are caused by the fact] that people dance around the subject and they don’t talk about it on a human level,” Cheese adds.

Yet whilst there has been unignorable progress CIPD’s CEO explains that overall it isn’t good enough. In order for businesses to make genuine progress in the D&I space, he says that employers need to link D&I initiatives to strategic business imperatives and outcomes, rather than viewing it as some form of “compliance or a political correctness thing”. While Cheese may suggest that more work is needed to facilitate workplace inclusion, some employers appear to be on the right tracks.

 

People dance around the subject and they don’t talk about it on a human level

 

Employee resource groups

Anne Kiely, EMEA Lead HR Business Partner at Twitter told HR Grapevine that for Twitter inclusion is happening because the business genuinely wants to. “I can one million per cent tell you that Twitter as an organisation is doing it because we want to. We want our employees and our company to reflect our service and our service, as you know, is to serve the public conversation. So, we have to, and we want to employ all of the different cultures and all of the different voices that our platform expects us to have,” Kiely explains.

To build a sense of community and inclusion among the workforce at Twitter, Kiely says that the social networking behemoth has introduced Business Resource Groups (BRGs) which are sought to support the firm’s values and spur Twitter’s commitment to create a more globally diverse and inclusive workforce. The BRGs, which are spearheaded by employees sharing mutual passions, includes employee resource groups like Twitter Women and Twitter Open – which operates for the business’ LGBT+ community. Employees are continually coming up with new resource groups that will benefit the culture going forwards. “We have a new employee who wants to improve the social aspect of onboarding for our new hires and has started a Twitter BRG called Twitter Hatchlings. She is making sure that people who join are integrated and have buddies which is really wonderful. It has really driven the culture around here,” Kiely adds.

 

We want our employees and our company to reflect our service and our service, as you know, is to serve the public conversation

 

Listening to employees

Alastair Gill, Head of People at Giffgaff says that when striving to include minorities, employers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of listening to their people. One way that Giffgaff has created a more inclusive culture is through the introduction of Diversigaff. The community-led initiative allows people to come together and try to understand what Giffgaff needs to do going forwards and is an opportunity for employees to share, educate and learn about one another. “We want people to feel that they belong at Giffgaff, we don’t want this perfect quota. We just want to listen to everybody and ask questions,” he explains. The importance of carving out a sense of belonging is crucial for employees to feel included in the organisation. Research from LinkedIn has found that more than half (51%) of survey respondents cited having the opportunity to freely express their opinions increased their sense of workplace belonging. 46% quoted an employer who cares about them as an individual as an important factor, too.

With that in mind, Gill explains that the telephone network allows employees to pick their own public holidays. “The British public holidays are roughly based around a very Christian calendar; we are no longer in a purely Christian country and we haven’t been for a long time. It’s one of those rules which we’ve just accepted,” Gill concludes. After hearing about different religious celebrations such as Eid and Ramadan from their employees, Giffgaff realised that they so often talked about flexibility and choice, yet they were still giving employees fixed public holidays. So, they now allow their employees to pick their own public holidays – an initiative which Spotify introduced a few years back. This, explains Gill, has only increased a sense of belonging.

 

 

‘D&I isn’t just a few initiatives’

Whilst Twitter employees are encouraged to join community groups that align with their passions and identity, and Giffgaff staff are able to pick their own public holidays to coincide with what works for them, as an individual, successfully helping employees feel included at work boils down to a solid understanding of the workforce demographic. CIPD’s Cheese explains that employers who have failed to understand their workforce across some of the key diversity metrics won’t be in a good place to make a difference – even if they’ve got some shiny new schemes in place to help. “It’s great to see a focus on it now, but I think we’re all understanding much better that [D&I] is not just a few initiatives and a bit of compliance training or diversity training. It’s a lot deeper than that and we have got to embrace that [to make better progress going forwards],” he concludes.

 

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken

- Oscar Wilde


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