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What you need to know about diversity and inclusion in the workplace

13 August, 2021

Diversity and inclusion are vital in all areas of life and in the workplace they are crucial for a diverse set of people to work together cohesively.

Having good quality diversity and inclusion policies in place, as well as providing comprehensive training on these topics can help workplaces to improve their diversity and inclusion.

What are the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

There are many benefits to businesses by having a diverse and inclusive workplace, including:

  • Greater levels of engagement, with more people feeling involved, respected and treated fairly. Employees that feel engaged with their workplace work harder and companies with high levels of employee engagement usually have lower rates of absences, which delivers significant cost savings for the company.
  • Teams work more productively with a broader range of perspectives and there is more chance of generating fresh ideas. Where you have a mix of ages, genders, ethnicities and educational backgrounds, there are more varied inputs coming from life experiences.
  • Studies show that companies with more gender and racial diversity, perform higher than their competitors. Diverse and inclusive companies will generally return higher profits.
  • There is a bigger talent pool to recruit from, so you are more likely to find high calibre candidates for roles. People want to work in diverse and inclusive cultures and if your company has a good reputation for D&I, this gives you more appeal to work for than other companies.
  • Employees working in inclusive teams are happier to stay working for the company, saving the expense of recruiting and training new staff as replacements.

What is the difference between inclusion and diversity?

The words diversity and inclusion are often used together in the same term but the meaning of each is quite different.

Diversity in the workplace refers to having employees that are of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and class and who have different political beliefs.

Inclusion is used to describe how much people feel valued and involved and whether they feel fairly treated by their employers and peers.

Getting an even balance of diversity and inclusion is essential for companies, as having one without the other can have disastrous effects. Diversity without inclusion can result in a culture where people do not feel part of the company, and inclusion without diversity will limit innovation and new ideas from developing.

Evaluating your executive team

When you are looking at ways to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace, you should start from the top. The executive team is the most visible team in the organisation and if there is a lack of diversity and inclusion, this makes a big statement about your company’s recruitment and promotion approach.

As well as having visible diversity in your executive team, you should also consider whether leaders are demonstrating inclusion. If your leaders are not driving inclusion by example, they would benefit from attending a training course to help them to understand the changes they need to make.

How to create a more diverse and inclusive culture

Start with recruitment

Recruitment processes should include assessing whether job applicants are going to contribute towards improving diversity and inclusion. Training courses that help people to understand diversity and inclusion better should be provided to all employees, not just the executive team.

Another way to help embed a culture of diversity and inclusion is to acknowledge and honour multiple religions and cultural practices. This might involve celebrating the festivals of different faiths and holding themed events that celebrate a range of different cultures.

You can also incorporate inclusivity into your core values to show that it is an important part of the way your business operates. If you have an employee survey, include questions related to whether they feel that the workplace is diverse and inclusive and request feedback that can be used to make improvements.

Listening to feedback from employees is the best way to get a true reflection of what the culture of your business actually feels like from employees’ perspectives.

Utilise inclusive language

Another way to help to make your workplace more inclusive is by using inclusive language, for example, using “spouse” and “partner” as opposed to “husband” and “wife”. If you have an internal communications team, they should be ensuring that the language used in their communications is inclusive.

Managers should be flexible to accommodate religious practices such as prayer times, or a change of working hours to help people who are fasting for religious reasons to get enough sleep after staying up late to break their fast, for example.

The HR department should also strengthen anti-discriminatory policies and help to ensure that the policies are adhered to.

Deploy training

Educating all employees about diversity and inclusion is one of the most significant actions that will make a difference. Bob’s Business offers a Celebrating Difference course that enables learners to develop a better understanding of the key principles of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The training also uses creative storytelling scenarios which are more engaging and thought-provoking for learners, compared to some of the more traditional and mundane training material used by other training companies.

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