Kate Palmer is Associate Director of HR Advisory and consultancy at global employment law consultancy, Peninsula. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion is one of Procurement Heads' strategic pillars and Kate shared her thoughts on 10 ways organisations can improve in these areas.
The UK is by far one of the most culturally diverse places on the global map. We see clear examples of diversity through our vast cuisines, languages and much more.
Against the backdrop of equality legislation, employers must mirror diversity through their onboarding practises. You should recruit candidates using diverse and inclusive hiring standards – helping to recreate equal opportunities for candidates from all walks of life.
By complying with Equality Acts, employers can avoid meeting discrimination complaints, compensation claims, and business disruptions.
Let’s explore 10 ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. And show how you can create equal opportunities for all employees in your business.
What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
We often interchange both these terms with one another. But it doesn’t mean a diverse workplace is inclusive; nor is an inclusive workplace diverse.
It’s better practise to incorporate them as business policies, as this will effectively reduce inequality and discrimination in the workplace.
We define workplace diversitybeyond the multicultural realm or details on a CV. Workplace diversity is about understanding and accepting a person’s different perspectives and values. These can range by:
- Gender, race, religion, ethnicity, age, sexuality, language.
- Educational background, personalities, skill set, experience.
Workplace inclusion refers to championing a culture of support, respect, and collaboration (which can increase employee participation and performance overall).
Businesses that utilise diversity and inclusion collectively can build more creative, adaptable, and competitive work environments. And by normalising a policy for diversity and inclusion, you can reap the rewards gained from improved employee wellbeing.
The benefits of diversity and inclusion
Keeping legally compliant with the Equality Act can help employers treat all workers and candidates fairly and steer away from discrimination and bias.
It manifests into awarding the best person a job based on their skills, experience, and knowledge, rather than give it to those parachuting their way into the position.
So how do I practise diversity and inclusion?
Having a strong D&I strategy can help your business attract top talent and push innovative results. Here are 10 of the best ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
- Change your onboarding methods
We should encourage employers and HR reps to hire from a more diverse demographic and stay away from homogenous candidate pools. This is especially significant when employers seek candidates through referrals.
You should ensure that contracts have an anti-discrimination policy. And stay clear of unconscious bias practices when hiring candidates, as these consequences are greater than those from a lack in ticking diversity boxes.
- Workplace culture that concentrates on diversity and inclusion
Larger companies host Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) such as societies for LGBTQ, Muslims, women, black community, etc.
But even if you are a smaller business, you can still incorporate an inclusive culture in the workplace. In the end, simple attention and focus on how workers can support and work alongside each other can prove helpful.
Acknowledge each other’s religious holidays, cultural understandings, embrace the differences – these little steps in increasing cultural diversity in the workplace.
- Diversity and inclusion policies
To keep legally compliant, businesses should have policies which prevent unfair treatment at work. Policies must be clearly presented and have prevention methods to stop it from happening.
This is vital for cases of discrimination against protected classes (like race, religion, religion, etc) and workplace misconduct (like verbal, physical, and sexual harassment).
Whilst employers aim to build diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it’s just as important to have these policies, and that all employees understand them.
- Communicate the importance of diversity and inclusion
You could have these policies documented in your company’s employee manual or on info-posters in the communal staffroom. But more importantly, it should become a shared culture where everyone follows and adheres to them – from the top-down.
Employers should also communicate the policies with emotional intelligence and empathy. Permanent change doesn’t happen overnight, so be vocal but also understanding in teaching the importance of diversity and inclusion.
- Opportunity for diversity and inclusion training
Communication is a key factor, but you can achieve an even stronger outcome through diversity and inclusion training.
Provide your employers with the opportunity to learn all about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Instead of making the training mandatory (especially for management and HR reps), provide the opportunity for voluntary diversity and inclusion training. The D&I policy should be a commitment for life, rather than a lecture forced upon them.
- Teaching the right methods
Employers should take care when educating workers on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
A lot of the time, you may find that you’re unteaching characteristics like unconscious bias and prejudices.
Through the training opportunities, teach ways to break away from the age-old habits of people-centricity, and celebrate diversity and inclusion instead.
- Hold accountability
If it publicly becomes known that your company lacks diversity and inclusion, it will instantly become common knowledge. Which in turn, can significantly derail your business’s reputation, employee retention, and potential clientele relations.
So, advertise yourself as a proactive company that champions diversity. And take accountability and change your internal mindset for diversity and inclusion. Make the change and lead by example.
- Establish mentoring programmes
You can gain so much as a company from mentoring and work-shadowing programmes. The opportunities for inclusion can help a multitude of employees, not just new starters.
If you invest in creating valuable and meaningful mentoring programs, you can mould workers to strive in leadership and well-rounded skillsets.
Mentors from diverse backgrounds and cultures can help similar workers instantly feel comfortable, welcomed, and valued within your company.
- Acknowledge the lack of diversity in your business
The most important step that a business needs to take is admittance. Whether you lack diversity or don’t have strategies to combat excluding behaviour, acknowledge the problem and voice a need for change.
Employees will respect the decision and most likely, show greater work engagement and job satisfaction.
Addressing a lack of workplace diversity can be difficult, especially if it comes from senior levels or through clientele. But when the change is incorporated, businesses can instantly bear witness to the benefits – from their internal workforce and also from the external business sphere.
- Review your diversity and inclusion progress
Evaluations are a normal procedure within businesses; and for diversity and inclusion, it shouldn’t be any different.
Create reviews which rate job satisfaction, including measuring new:
- recruitment processes
- promotion rates, turnover achievements
- ERG participation
- other methods that materialise because of D&I policies
Providing equal opportunities is all about finding the right person for the job, regardless of sex, race, and educational backgrounds – which is clearly achievable through D&I policies in HR and the wider business.
Promoting your business as a place that ensures equal opportunity will ensure employees stay motivated and happy – keeping both morale and productivity at a level-high.
A thought leader on HR and employment law; Kate is Associate Director of HR Advisory and consultancy at global employment law consultancy, Peninsula.
Kate joined in 2009 from a worldwide facility services company where she was Senior HR Manager. Her exploits included providing HR & employment law support to over 30 UK hospitals and dealing with high profile NHS union cases—expertise she now brings to Peninsula clients.
Today, Kate is involved in all aspects of HR and employment law advice. She develops Peninsula’s expert law advisors and ensures each client gets the answers they need every time they call.