Does it feel like you’re standing at a threshold in history sometimes? The age we live in is unique – it seems to allow us to observe a changing global climate as it manifests; to witness the social impact of the technology that empowers us.
Social networking over the last few years has increased our awareness of and empathy for diversity and inclusion. It has provided a sounding board where topics, such as the gender pay gap, can be discussed openly and from which movements, such as #MeToo, have spawned. Modern businesses simply can’t afford to be out of touch and ignore these social phenomena.
What Does Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Look Like?
Achieving diversity in the workplace is about ensuring that a company’s workforce reflects a variety of races and religions, and includes a good mix of male and female workers. Diversity is the mix of people who make an organisation unique. But, bringing diversity in the door through a targeted hiring program is only the beginning. If diverse workers don’t feel they have a voice and an equal opportunity to advance, they will leave. Inclusion is the second half of diversity that makes sure all employees are full team members and feel their contributions are valued.
What Are the Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?
Inclusion and diversity isn’t just good public relations; it benefits a company’s bottom line:
- It improves employee happiness, productivity, and retention
- It improves innovation and creativity
- It’s positive for the employer brand
- It increases your workforce’s range of skills, talents & experiences
So, as well as reducing the risk of disputes and tribunals, an inclusive working environment that allows diversity and equality to flourish will bring numerous business and financial benefits.
What are the Dangers of Ignoring Inclusion and Diversity?
Employees who don’t feel included in a workplace can easily become depressed and withdrawn. The quality of their work may suffer and their rate of absenteeism may increase, which costs a company money. Their decreased morale and related lack of communication may also adversely affect the whole team and drag down its productivity. If they leave their jobs because they feel undervalued, a company will incur the costs.
Now is a great time for companies to show they genuinely care for the right value systems, ignoring social progression and legal obligations could severely damage a company’s reputation.
What is the Equality Act?
In October 2010 the Equality Act came into force, bringing together previous legislation and strengthening equality laws.
The act built on an existing law and brought in the concept of the nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, maternity and pregnancy, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation. The Equality Act prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination because of any of these characteristics.
Employers have a legal obligation to comply with the Equality Act and stamp out discrimination from the workplace. This means developing policies and practices that guarantee people are treated according to their needs. There are plenty of on-line resources out there to help businesses succeed, for example this teaching tool, The Genderbread Person.