Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

A key priority over the last decade, has been promotion and support for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Diversity and Inclusion (or D&I) should go beyond policies, box ticking and headcounts. It’s about valuing everyone in an organisation as an individual, creating an environment where everyone feels able to participate and realise their potential. By adopting such an approach, a modern business will earn deeper trust, engagement and respect as an equitable organisation.

Below we will explore what workplace inclusion and diversity means, and how an effective strategy can support an organisation’s business objectives.

What Does Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Look Like?

Achieving diversity in the workplace is about ensuring that a company’s workforce is representative. An environment where many different genders, races, nationalities, and sexual orientations and identities are present. Diversity is the mix of people who make an organisation unique.

But diversity 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 valued and carry authority or influence. So, you may have a diverse workplace but not necessarily an inclusive one and this is sometimes referred to as ‘tokenism’.

Organisations must really interrogate their structure to identify if they are truly diverse and inclusive:

  • Does everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the business, feel equally involved in and supported in all areas of the workplace?
  • Do you have diversity in each of your departments, and in your leadership?
  • Do you have good representation of employees but limited to the same department?

These are the sorts of questions that can reveal where there is room for development.

What Are the Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?

D&I isn’t just good public relations, research has shown many benefits:

  • 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 rate of absenteeism may increase. Decreased morale and related lack of communication will impact the whole team and drag down productivity. All this costs a company money. If an employee leaves their job because they feel undervalued, a company will also incur the cost.

But the reasons to improve D&I in the workplace aren’t all financial- companies need to demonstrate that 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, so do your research and help make difference to your workplace.