In 2020, a study conducted by ADP revealed that, in the UK, more than a quarter of the workforce had experienced discrimination in some form. In the twenty-second century, it seems strange to think that we’re still dealing with issues around gender, race, age and other forms of discrimination.
Tackling the issues of discrimination and actively creating a work environment that is inclusive and diverse has been shown to bring about numerous benefits for both employees and organisations. Here, we explain these terms and provide guidance on how you can go about making your organisation more inclusive.
What is diversity in the workplace?
Workplace diversity refers to a workplace that consists of individuals who possess varying characteristics and experiences. When the term workplace diversity was first used, it mainly focused on the characteristics of race and ethnicity. However, you’ll find that many factors can contribute to diversity today, such as:
- Socio-economic background
- Sexual orientation
- Political opinions
- Physical disabilities
What is equality in the workplace?
Equality within the workplace refers to the fair and equal treatment of all employees, regardless of their differences (such as their demographics).
However, workplace equality runs deeper than this. An organisation that claims to promote equality should ensure that everyone feels included, heard, valued and accepted.
Why are equality and diversity important in the workplace?
Fostering a culture centred around diversity and equality will create numerous benefits for your organisation and likely increase your employee’s overall satisfaction.
- Attract and retain the best talent
In today’s world, you’re not limited to employing individuals within a certain geographical area. By opening your talent pool up, you’ll attract more high-quality talent.
- Results in better employee performance
Workplace studies have found that employees working in diverse, inclusive organisations are more engaged, produce higher quality work and tend to stay with the company longer.
- Increased levels of innovation
A diverse workforce consists of people of varying demographics, backgrounds and experiences. This results in a team with different perspectives, decision-making skills and problem-solving methods. Thus, you’ll find that your teams will likely be more creative, coming up with more innovative solutions.
How to promote equality and diversity in the workplace
Creating a workplace culture underpinned by equality and diversity will take commitment and a lot of work. You can promote it throughout all aspects of the company – right from the hiring process through to educating your current employees.
- Be mindful of the language you use
This applies to both company and individual communications. All company communications should include language that is appropriate for a wide audience. Individual employees should also be held accountable in cases where they use offensive language, even if no harm was intended.
- Identify & prevent unconscious bias
While we may all strive to be as open-minded and inclusive as possible, we all harbour conscious and unconscious biases. In order to tackle biases, you first need to acknowledge that you have them.
A simple way to do this is to complete an Implicit Association Test (IAT). Your results will likely demonstrate your possible biases, specifically those related to gender, sexuality, ethnicity etc. Understanding your own biases will help you to see where you can focus on improving.
- Implement equality and diversity policies
Implementing policies and measurable benchmarks can be a great way to ensure employees are treated fairly throughout all activities. This will also demonstrate to your workforce that you’re proactive and want to create real change.
A great way to ensure you’ve formulated truly inclusive policies si to get your employee’s contributions – you can even allow them to do this anonymously so everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts.
- Use objective criteria
Creating an objective set of criteria will serve as a great form of guidance and will ensure that all decisions made are based on merit rather than personal biases.
- Train your staff
Providing training to your staff is an excellent opportunity to introduce new criteria and policies. It also serves as a platform for you to educate and create awareness amongst your employees about diversity, equality and the biases that they may have themselves. Additionally, you can provide your staff with resources that they can use to educate themselves too.
- Seek advice where needed
Creating a company culture where equality and diversity are a top priority can be trickier to implement than you may think. However, your Legal or HR department will be able to provide you with the necessary advice. Alternatively, you can outsource your support.
Ready to create a diverse and inclusive work environment?
Creating a work environment that prioritises diversity and inclusion is bound to benefit your business and your employees – that’s a win-win. If you need any advice on how to make a more inclusive environment in your workplace, feel free to get in touch.