Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace have never been as important as they are now. It is a concept that is increasingly gaining traction in the workplace as the benefits of it are becoming clearer to all.

You only need to look at the news stories that are trending on a global scale to see that this is a hot topic. It is important for business owners to remember that this is not simply an HR issue—it should be thought of as a part of a comprehensive business strategy.

In fact, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson has been quoted as saying:

“Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.”

So, if you want your business to grow in 2020 and beyond, you need to know what D&I is, what the best practices are, and what strategies you can use to manage it.

What does diversity in the workplace mean?

Diversity in the workplace tends to refer to companies who employ a workforce that is composed of individuals of different backgrounds including age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and so on. This includes not only employing a wide variety of people but also accepting, understanding and valuing the differences between them.

A recent survey conducted amongst millennials by Deloitte revealed that there is a different perception of diversity amongst each generation:

  • Millennials are more likely to focus on unique experiences when defining diversity, whereas non-millennials tend to focus on representation
  • Millennials are also more likely to focus on teamwork, compared to non-millennials who tend to focus on fairness of opportunity

What does inclusion in the workplace mean?

Inclusion in the workplace is a focus on creating an overarching culture which encompasses diversity and equality along with many other aspects of our working lives. It creates a workplace culture where people feel confident about being themselves and comfortable enough to work in a way which suits them as well as delivering what your business needs. Everybody adds value to your business as they feel valued.

What does diversity and inclusion in the workplace mean then?

Diversity and inclusion is the term used to describe your business’ mission statement, working practices and strategy aimed at supporting a diverse workforce. Additionally, leveraging the benefits of that diverse workforce to create a business advantage over your competitors.

Companies with clear diversity and inclusion strategies, not only tend to attract the top talent but also have more creative and innovative work environments.

Best practices for diversity and inclusion management

Some of the best practices we have come across for D&I management include:

  • Representation of diversity at all levels of an organisation
  • Representation of diversity among both internal and external stakeholders
  • Evidence of commitment to diversity by leaders
  • Equal access to opportunities
  • Fair treatment
  • A focus on teamwork and collaboration
  • Organisational agility, flexibility and responsiveness
  • Collaborative conflict resolution processes

One point that is raised in the aforementioned Deloitte study is that employees tend to perceive their company as diverse and inclusive based on best practices that are not D&I focused—such as a focus on creativity and innovation! Therefore, the best D&I practices are those that are desired by everyone involved in the business.

Great strategies for managing diversity and inclusion

If you want your business to run in an inclusive way which embraces diversity, then some of the key strategies you should adopt include:

  • Creating a focus on D&I, with a clear strategy, at CEO level
  • Assigning a clear leader to look after sponsoring and leading the D&I programme throughout the whole business
  • Creating clear behavioural standards and holding everyone accountable to them—including business leaders
  • Robust training strategy for all employees covering topics such as unconscious bias
  • Creating honest and open employee networks such as employee resource groups and community outreach programmes
  • An acceptance and honouring of cultural and religious practices
  • Strong anti-discriminatory policies which are upheld
  • Ensuring your recruitment process has your D&I strategies integrated into it at all levels

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is an essential business practice for those companies who aspire to be high-performing. If you want to be part of a company that helps their employees thrive, then please get in touch with Agile Recruit at info@agilerecruit.com.

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