Pushing the case for diversity

Oct 26, 2020 | Diversity

Amidst the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement it’s vital that we push the case for diversity writes Mona Vadher, an associate educational consultant at TG Consulting.

The Black Lives Matter movement and Covid-19 lead to a significant rise in youth unemployment, the digital divide has been intensified and many BAME communities disproportionately hit.

It is vital now, more than ever, that we create equal opportunities for all as well as enable a supportive working environment. Equality of opportunity will only exist when we recognise and value difference and work together for inclusion.

Broadening your approach to hiring and using strategies such as blind recruitment will help employers get the best applicants without the risk of unconscious biases getting in the way. And it allows you to tap into overlooked talent pools.


Better business outcomes

Equality, diversity and inclusion (D&I) are different, and they need to be progressed together.

Businesses have had to show their hand on their gender pay gaps and there’s been talk of race and disability-focused employment quotas. There’s also been concern from some over a perceived prejudice among UK employers towards transgender workers.

Evidence shows that D&I in many organisations produces above-average financial results and can promote a broader scope of ideas and innovation. It can also be encouraging that being accepted and valued professionally is achievable regardless of skin colour, gender, or perceived position in society.

It’s clear that building a D&I strategy that values employees and treating them with open-mindedness and respect in a safe environment gives them the space to thrive.


The business case

Most businesses want their customer base to be as wide and as profitable as possible. If your workforce better reflects the market you operate in, you’ll tap into revenue streams you haven’t thought of before.

By including diverse perspectives and backgrounds you reduce exposure to long-term risks that could sink unprepared businesses. Companies with strong gender and ethnic diversity are 15% and 35% respectively more likely to outperform their competitors (McKinsey & Co).

Having a diverse and inclusive workforce allows you to build a positive brand identity that connects you to the community you’re working in. A survey showed 54% of women and 45% of men said they researched if a company had D&I policies in place when deciding to accept a job (PwC).

Diverse and inclusive teams are often happy teams, and this can increase productivity and lower your employee turnover. When employees think their organisation is committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included, their ability to innovate increases by 83% (Deloitte).


Six steps to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce

#1 Internal education and alignment

For a D&I strategy to have real meaning and impact, you should focus on changing existing cultures, thinking and behaviours. It’s one thing to make an effort with policies, but to succeed you need your entire business to understand why it’s so important.


#2 Gather data

Before implementing anything, you need to know what your workforce looks like. By having data on employee demographics, you’ll better understand the diversity of your team and see any areas of concern or trends.

Demographic data could include age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, organisation function and level, race, religion, belief and spirituality, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.

You probably already have a lot of this information on your HR system but lots of businesses also use voluntary surveys to get more information. You might find It challenging to get diversity data from employees because some people won’t understand how you’ll use the information. If this happens, you could use a third party or online survey that will capture information without identifying people.


#3 Avoid too much too soon

Introducing too many initiatives at once can be overwhelming and you might miss the opportunity to authentically connect with your employees. It’s better to start with one or two initiatives that promote diversity.

Start internally as it will increase your chance of success. Mentoring as well as reviewing policies and practices to identify any barriers that make it more difficult for different demographic groups to be employed are good places to start.


#4 Get senior management on board

For D&I initiatives to succeed, senior leaders need to understand the business case, with direct links to your goals.

You also need to show how management will be held accountable for supporting and engaging in the initiatives. For example, keep a dialogue with employees about D&I, initiate training and hold direct reports accountable.

Creating a diverse committee of employees from all levels can help make leaders’ support visible. The committee should have a clear mission, defined budget, expectations and performance indicators. Diversity committees meet regularly and are usually responsible for:

  • Promoting training and events to bring awareness about D&I at work.
  • Engaging co-workers in D&I conversations.
  • Reviewing and developing policies and procedures that will promote D&I.


#5 Communicate

Once you have a plan, you need to let stakeholders know:

  • Design messages that inform, educate, engage or empower.
  • Use metrics and success stories to connect the D&I efforts to your organisational goals and strategic plan.
  • Make a communication plan, leveraging all channels, such as executive presentations, media, newsletters, intranet and emails.


#6 Measure, disseminate, review and adjust

It’s so important to measure results and communicate them across the company, demonstrating the business case for your initiatives. Some outcomes that will show success are:

  • Increased representation of identified groups
  • Higher employee survey scores, better employee retention
  • Public recognition such as employer awards or social media accolades.

D&I initiatives will need ongoing review and you’ll need to respond to changing needs. You should make a procedure for periodic review of your initiatives and goals. And once you’ve had your initiative in place for a while, think about surveying your employees again to find out how they feel about your efforts.

Finally, to truly have a diverse and inclusive organisation it takes internal education, investment and new ways of thinking about hiring and organisational culture – and that takes time. You don’t always need big budgets or thousands of employees or huge brand names to work – just the time, effort, and intention to be better at inclusion.

Read the latest ISE diversity data in Inside student recruitment 2019

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