Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been growing in importance in recent years. Apart from the benefits offered by a more diverse and inclusive workforce – for example, improved decision-making, a variety of perspectives and a better company reputation – the Financial Reporting Council, a regulator and operator of the UK’s corporate governance system, now requires large companies to improve their reporting of diversity and inclusion, including being open about targets set and action taken to achieve them.
So how should HR professionals stay on top of this vital issue? The following information will equip you with the knowledge required to approach this topic in the right way.
Defining diversity and inclusion
Let’s start with simple definitions of the concepts of diversity and inclusion:
Diversity relates to the complete variety of human experience, whether that’s race, class, gender identity, sexual preference, religion, culture or personal politics.
Inclusion is concerned with the degree to which people feel involved and empowered. If people are genuinely included, their individual value is acknowledged and respected.
Diversity and inclusion need to work together if your organisation is to derive the full benefits they can offer.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important?
We’ve already alluded to the positive changes diversity and inclusion can bring your company, but it’s worth examining the advantages in more detail. According to McKinsey & Company, organisations ranked in the highest quartile for gender inclusion are more likely to report greater profitability than the average for their peers. Gartner’s research has shown that teams displaying high ethnic diversity tend to perform more effectively. Greater diversity also improves employee engagement, which leads to better productivity, retention and customer service.
How to improve diversity and inclusion
Improving diversity and inclusion in your organisation isn’t a short-term task, but there are a few sure-fire steps you can take to increase your chances of success:
1- It starts with the boss
Your CEO should set out the organisation’s objectives as clearly as possible for the entire company. Senior management must then commit to becoming more diverse in its make-up and set an example of inclusive behavior for the whole workforce.
2- Design your road-map
Without an action plan to follow, your diversity and inclusion activities are unlikely to achieve their goals. Choose a senior manager to drive your initiatives and allow them to assemble a team to implement their ideas.
3- Invite feedback and respond to it
Actively seek out the views of your employees, beginning with an initial bench-marking survey. Follow this up with further surveys on a regular basis to monitor the impact of new initiatives, track employee engagement levels and take action in response to suggestions or comments expressed.
Recognize your employees
A highly effective way to underline inclusion in your organisation is through an employee recognition program. Apart from making staff feel that they really belong in the company, recognition can be used to encourage desired behaviors and help to create the culture you’re striving to embed.
Diversity and inclusion is a win-win for all concerned. Take it seriously and you’ll be rewarded with a more engaged and profitable organisation, and who doesn’t want to work for a company like that?
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