Discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace have intensified in recent years. This was sparked by the tragic events of 2020 which saw a surge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement and highlighted inequalities across society. This public debate also placed organisations and their diversity credentials under the microscope.
Quite rightly, the level of scrutiny organisations face remains high. Since 2020, many have come under fire for their lack of diverse representation and there is growing recognition of the critical value of DEI to a company’s culture and employee engagement.
Some promising strides have been made. While gender parity has reportedly stalled, ethnic minority and LGBTQ+ representation is at an all-time high in the UK according to a recent survey featured in HR magazine. This has been attributed to government guidance on closing representation gaps, alongside employee, customer and shareholder pressure.
But there is still work to be done. Another survey found DEI conversations in the workplace led to feelings of frustration for 1 in 4 employees and discomfort for 1 in 5. Clearly, we need to reflect on how these conversations are taking place, who is leading them and how they are shaped and implemented. Steps also need to be taken to improve gender equality, and representation and progression for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds and disabled employees.
Embedding diversity and inclusion in your workplace
Developing a workplace in which DEI is embedded at all levels is an ongoing process. But you can start taking positive steps in the right direction today. Here are some to consider:
- Tailor your approach. Put in the work to understand what’s right for your organisation. Off-the-shelf solutions won’t be as effective.
- Don’t give up on difficult conversations. As we’ve noted, they’re not always easy but it’s important to continue providing a safe, confidential space where DEI issues can be discussed.
- Support and encourage learning. To drive positive change leaders, managers and teams need to be committed to understanding how to implement DEI.
- Make DEI part of the culture. A truly diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t simply created by hiring more people from different backgrounds, you need to create a place in which they can thrive.
In our experience, gaining insights into where your organisation could do better is a critical starting point. During this process you’ll discover crucial information, such as which employees feel supported and why, where there is a lack of clear routes to progression, and how safe people feel to be themselves in your workplace.
Specific solutions can then be applied to your specific challenges. Acting on these findings will bring positive results in terms of employee engagement and alignment with an organisation’s goals, and a sense of safety that enables people to reach their potential.
Wider business benefits of a diverse and inclusive
By embedding tailored DEI-approaches into your workplace, you will build structures that can deliver long-term benefits to your organisation.
For example, by focusing recruitment on skills and potential, rather than recruiting a certain type of person, you will have access to a much wider talent pool.
Diverse workforces are also more representative of your customers and bring diverse perspectives to your team, which leads to more creative and innovative solutions.
Inclusive workplaces are happier workplaces too. Organisations that prioritise diversity and inclusion create learning-centred environments that support the development and wellbeing of employees.
To find out how we help organisations develop workplaces everybody can thrive in, get in touch.