What does a diverse and inclusive workplace look like to you? The value of diversity in the workplace has been widely discussed in recent years, with McKinsey’s study “Why Diversity Matters” showing that workplaces with greater diversity, tend to be more profitable.
When we think about diversity and inclusion, we tend to think about the types of diversity we can visibly see, but true diversity in the workplace encompasses more than this. It seeks to improve awareness of different types of diversity, address workplace behaviour and add value to the organisation, contributing to employee wellbeing and greater engagement. In a diverse and inclusive culture, employees feel included, irrespective of who they are or what they identify themselves as.
As humans, we are hardwired for connection. We need to feel a sense of belonging. So, it’s no surprise that in a recent Deloitte survey, 80% of employees consider inclusion an essential factor in choosing an employer. When people feel disconnected, ignored or unable to be their authentic self in the workplace, it can have a considerable impact on their overall performance and engagement. We no longer benefit from the best our people have to offer.
Inclusion begins with understanding the employee experience in your workplace, leaning into hard conversations and being clear about your values as an organisation. Aside from the humanitarian aspects of doing the right thing for society as a whole, the benefits for the business are equally compelling. Fostering an inclusive workplace can open the doors to untapped energy and creativity, which is critical for innovation. When employees feel safe, empowered and trusting of their organisation, it leads to their unique talents being brought to the fore, giving the business a competitive edge.
“Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.”
Types of Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity can cover many different areas. It’s important to understand the different types of diversity, so you can make sure everybody feels part of your success.
● Age Diversity
Age diversity ensures your company has a good cross-section of employees across generations.
● Cultural Diversity (Ethnic Diversity)
Cultural diversity is when a business has employees from different cultures. This diversity is common in multinational companies.
● Racial Diversity
Race diversity is a person’s grouping based on their physical traits. Examples of different races are Asian, African, Caucasian, and Latino.
● Religious Diversity
Religious diversity refers to people at work with different spiritual beliefs and religions.
Disabilities can refer to both mental and physical. They can be visible and/or hidden. Companies can adjust their hiring processes and environment, to make them more inclusive for people with disabilities.
● Sex/Gender/Sexual Orientation - LGBTIQA+
Also known as gender diversity which is changing every day. You can read a glossary of terms for LGBTIQA+ here.
● Social Economic Diversity
Social economic diversity is when employees may have come from different economic backgrounds, with varying wealth, education and privileges
Challenges with Diversity in the Workplace
In recent years, there has been a distinct shift from uniformity to diversity. Leaders and managers are critical in promoting and enabling an inclusive workplace culture. Forward-thinking leaders recognise that an inclusive culture is essential for long-term success. Attention to employee wellbeing directly correlates to the success of the business. Educated leaders know it is time to take action on diversity.
Greater awareness of employee wellbeing within the workplace has prompted many employers to address diversity and inclusion challenges. But, there can still be a risk that initiatives don’t address the deeper issues, or that unconscious bias can undermine progress.
Our individual life experience can influence how we view and interact with others in the workplace. Our experience affect our beliefs and perceptions of other people. However, as these are often unconscious, we may not aware of our bias. An example could be a male manager who believes that men work harder than women. So, when he recruits for new positions, he favours hiring men instead of capable female applicants. Unconscious bias can affect areas such as performance management, recruitment, and work allocation.
What’s more, hidden diversities may not be fully addressed within the workplace, leaving room for certain groups or individuals to feel disconnected or judged. These diversities can include social economic, religious, sexual orientation, and disabilities, that we cannot always visibly see. When you opt for a corporate wellness program and strive towards a genuine culture shift, it can help to eliminate such biases, by creating a level “playing field” for all your employees.
Are Employers Doing Enough?
So, what is the current state, when it comes to diversity and employee wellbeing? Are employers prioritising this on their agenda?
Some companies have taken steps to make diversity and inclusion a priority. Inclusive Companies shows the Inclusive Top 50 Employers in the UK concerning diversity, quality, and inclusion. Representing the promotion of all strands of diversity, the annual list includes major corporations from different sectors and takes into account each company’s performance.
Voted No. 1 was the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT). Head of Inclusion and Engagement for UHMBT, Karmini McCann, highlights “the power of inclusive leadership and inclusion networks in understanding and responding to the impact of COVID-19 on different groups, and most importantly, working together to keep each other safe whilst caring for our local communities.”
One initiative from UHMBT was in support of LGBT+, when they became a ‘Stonewall Diversity Champion’ in 2016, joining the UK’s leading programme for equality for LGBT+ staff and service users. The Trust is committed to supporting LGBT+ staff and communities and is working to create an inclusive workplace for all. Another initiative was led by the Lancaster and Morecambe Hindu Society, who created a touching tribute to UHMBT hospital staff and people who died in the COVID-19 pandemic. In non-COVID times, the society held many events there, including Diwali ‘Festival of Lights’ celebrations, helping to celebrate the religion and bring different cultures together.
While some organisations such as this have progressed, there is still a long way to go. Megan Wesley, Co-Founder and Director of Libratum, has seen this first-hand, “Wellbeing means different things, to different people, at different times in their lives. We can’t assume everyone has the same experience in the workplace. A good wellbeing program will help to address individual wellbeing needs, as well as open up the dialogue and create an inclusive culture, where people feel they can show up to work authentically.”
An employee wellness program is a viable solution that considers wellbeing holistically and broadly to help all employees.
Taking a Broader View
Many corporations are aware of legislation when it comes to diversity and inclusion, but
fail to see the broader issues surrounding diversity. The CIPD stated an effective inclusion and diversity strategy needs to go beyond legal compliance.
Mckinsey’s recent study found diverse companies perform better when there is a focus on including their employees. Companies are beginning to realise that diversity and inclusion are both integral to business success. It should add value to an organisation, especially for employee engagement and wellbeing.
If you want to drive growth and success, it makes good business sense to work on a D&I strategy. When you implement an effective strategy, it can help you achieve your business objectives and maintain a competitive advantage. For example:
● Reduce attrition, as employees feel more accepted and valued.
● Enhance your brand reputation as a more socially responsible business.
● Attract top talent from your industry.
● Boost innovation and creativity inside the company.
● Resonate with and related to your customers
● Outperform less diverse companies.
Approach Diversity & Inclusion with Confidence
It’s important to communicate your expectations to your workforce and regularly ask for feedback about the employee experience. Our employee wellness program is an effective and people-focused way to address diversity. We don’t push diversity at a breakneck pace. We address the different needs and challenges one step at a time. Our integrated approach leaves nobody on the side-lines.
It requires a different way of thinking and a readiness to develop your business. We use our company values of people, trust, integrity, and authenticity to create a tailored program for your business, agency or firm.
It doesn’t matter what stage you are currently at in your diversity drive. Get in touch with us so that we can share our experience with diversity and inclusion. We can create the perfect program for your corporation. So, you can create a more inclusive and diverse environment for all your employees.
McKinsey study, “Why Diversity Matters” https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity
Glossary of common terms Australian Government https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/lgbtiq-communities
Inclusion in the UK Workplace - Michael Page https://www.michaelpage.co.uk/sites/michaelpage.co.uk/files/inclusion_in_the_uk_workplace_mp_0.pdf
Inclusive Companies 2020/2021 https://www.inclusivecompanies.co.uk/inclusivetop50/2020rankings/
CIPD -.Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/diversity/factsheet#gref
McKinsey Report - Diversity Wins How Inclusion Matters https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters