Everyone brings different skills, talents and perspectives to the workplace. And when you allow a diverse range of people to share a diverse range of opinions, that’s how the best decisions are made. So we’re answering some common questions you might have, to help you understand how you can make meaningful change.
What does diversity & inclusion actually mean?
Diversity means a lot more than you might think: it means taking into account how old your employees are, what religion they follow, where they live, how they were brought up, what language they speak, physical and mental health, sexual orientation and a whole lot more. By taking their individual circumstances into account and empowering every member of your team, you help them bring their full selves to work.
However, having a diverse workforce isn’t necessarily enough. Lot’s of organisations that are diverse on paper are missing one crucial piece of the puzzle - inclusion. A traditional example of this is men and women in the workplace. For many companies, despite having a similar ratio of men and women their actual roles, responsibilities, and opportunities are entirely different.
Introducing inclusion means an organisation's effort and practices ensure all employees, regardless of diversity factors, are given equal opportunity. This includes the opportunity to progress within a company but also refers to more qualitative factors such as feeling welcome and social inclusion.
If diversity is the mix, inclusion is making the mix work well together.
What's the fuss all about?
D&I has become a hot topic over the last couple of years, with good reason. The exact cause of its boom is difficult to pinpoint. Several factors played their part and although it may seem like it’s only recently hit the headlines, discussion around the topic has been taking place for several decades.
The widespread adoption of social media has almost certainly had an influence. When extreme cases of discrimination are captured and shared online, they often go viral reigniting the dialogue surrounding equality. Movements such as #metoo and #blacklivesmatter sparked global conversations to which big brands started to contribute.
Having the ability to capture and distribute information instantly causes cases that may have otherwise gone unseen to be exposed and shamed. Cases like these highlight the topic and allow more people to recognise everyday cases of mistreatment. It’s even forced organisations to look more closely into their own D&I efforts in order to avoid the severe backlash seen in brands that have been exposed.
How will it impact my business?
Having a diverse workplace is all about making significant and long-lasting changes to improve your company culture. The benefits speak for themselves: you can strengthen your company work environment, make better decisions, create a stronger bond within your team, reduce employee turnover - and increase your profits.
The results speak for themselves: a study of 1700 employers found that better diversity led to 19% higher revenue. The impact also reaches further than your business. It’s estimated that if we closed the gender pay gap, we’d add an additional $28 trillion to the global economy. Companies and societies experience higher growth and prosperity as women gain financial independence.
Why? Different, more broad perspectives lead to better-informed decisions. Not to mention, when you hire from a wider talent pool you improve your ability to hire top tier talent. Having people who understand and relate to different cultures potentially increases your customer base.
So how do I get started?
- Assess where you currently stand. Interview and capture responses from a broad range of your employees, including as many examples of diversity as possible. Try to do this in a way that allows employees to feel as comfortable as possible in sharing their honest opinions.
- Set specific, measurable goals to help you track your progress
- Consider speaking with other companies who have already made leaps to become more diverse to understand how you can best achieve your goals
- Create hiring policies that look beyond the traditional pool of recruitment
- Train and educate your team on unconscious bias and diversity to align everyone around your goals
- Actively create a safe space for everyone in your team. For example, develop actively anti-racist policies that encourage people to consider their own behaviours - you might be surprised at how effective this can be!
When it comes to diversity, it’s important to adopt a growth mindset. Never assume you know everything - always be willing to learn. In doing this we allow ourselves to be reactive to this ever-changing field and give everyone the opportunity they deserve to shine. Your people will be happier and your business will perform better, but most importantly, you’ll be taking a step in the right direction as a 21st-century employer.
We hope learned something new or gained some new insight on the topic. If you have any feedback or comments, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.