6 Ways to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace has always had a spot on the executive agenda, but over the last few years, it has become more critical for businesses. This is due in part to a shift in focus to employee wellbeing and ethical practices, but also because people are catching on to the many tangible benefits it provides, with a direct impact on a company’s profitability.

Not only are companies with a more inclusive culture seen as a more desirable employer, but they also outperform competitors and achieve greater profits. Medium reported that a company with more diversity in the workplace can bring in 19% greater profit, with ethnically diverse workforces outperforming competitors by 35%.

Even as businesses acknowledge the role that Diversity and Inclusion plays in the workplace; it can be challenging to know how to really make a difference. Embracing policies, initiatives and tools designed to increase and celebrate diversity is great, but in order to be truly inclusive, businesses need to create a culture where people from all backgrounds feel included.

When it comes to following through on a commitment to diversity and inclusion, it’s not easy to know where to start. So, we’ve rounded up the top 6 ways that you can improve Diversity and Inclusion in your workplace.

If you have an SME, you may feel that some of these initiatives are focused on larger organisations, however when a business is smaller, it’s a lot easier to design your culture for the kind of business you want it to be, and taking steps early on to be an inclusive employer will really set you apart from the competition.

1. Evaluate Your Leadership Team

How diverse is your leadership team? The makeup of executive boards and leadership is a big signifier to your employees, partners and stakeholders on your attitudes towards inclusion.

If you are aiming to recruit diverse top talent, you need to make sure the interview panel, management team and company as a whole reflect that culture. For many people, a lack of diversity at the top of the company indicates that there may be a glass ceiling in place, with little opportunity for growth.

Ask yourself: are men and women equally represented? Are our senior leadership team ethnically diverse? Are those in charge from various cultural and religious backgrounds? If not, it’s time to ask yourself the tough questions as to why and actively seek to improve your diversity – it will only benefit your business.

2. Create a Truly Inclusive Workplace Environment

Think about your office space and how it can be optimised for a more diverse workforce. Do you have gender-neutral bathrooms on offer? Can you change one of your workrooms into a prayer room? Does your canteen serve halal, vegan or kosher options? Do you have a nursing room so that mothers can breastfeed in privacy?

Making some changes to your workspace can positively impact your employee retention and wellbeing, as a clear decision to provide for all potential colleagues, regardless of their beliefs or circumstances.

3. Add Flexibility to your Holiday Allowance

Introducing a flexible holiday policy is a great way to acknowledge a variety of religious and cultural practices.

Annual Christmas holiday parties should be nondenominational and whilst having Christmas Day off is standard practice at most companies in the UK, it’s nice to offer additional ‘floating’ holidays to accommodate the religious preferences of all of your employees.

If you have employees that work in different countries, offer them the choice to swap out the company’s typical bank holidays so that they may choose to work them, in favour of taking annual leave on a public holiday in the country they work in.

The goal of this is to give employees the freedom to choose what suits them best and improve the work-life balance for those who observe different cultural or religious festivities.

4. Facilitate Open and Honest Discussions and Crack Down on Discrimination

Is your discrimination policy at work really cutting it? Whilst it is a legal requirement to have a policy, companies now have to go further to ensure that it is more than a tick-box exercise. Raising a complaint about your treatment at work to have it swept under the rug is sure to impact productivity and staff turnover, so make sure that your policy is air-tight and followed at all times.

In the same vein, you must provide a safe space for employees to give feedback and raise issues or sensitive concerns. Many companies boast that they have an open, transparent culture as a pre-requisite, but if your leadership team are not diverse themselves or there is no room for discussion, alerting colleagues to a diversity or equality issue can be more daunting than normal. Make sure you and your teams have regular 1-2-1s with every colleague so that they have a chance to confide or ask for HR support.

5. Highlight and Celebrate your Diversity

One way to lead by example with your diversity and inclusion agenda is to ensure complete transparency on a regular basis. Through internal communication channels and business-wide events, you should always share stories from your diverse work colleagues and put your D&I initiatives on the agenda.

If you have a colleague newsletter, app or intranet, give D&I a regular update spot, and make sure to interview and capture stories from colleagues of different genders, sexual preferences, races, nationalities, religions and cultures.

When colleagues see other diverse colleagues being celebrated or promoted, it increases their sense of belonging and inspires them to bring their authentic selves to work.

6. Invest in Diversity and Inclusion Training for your Colleagues

Sometimes, you need an extra hand and more ideas on how to act, implement, live and breathe diversity and inclusion, so investing in training for all colleagues, but especially your leadership team is a great return on investment.

Not only does it amplify your senior leadership’s commitment, it raises awareness of unconscious bias, acknowledges workplace microaggressions and educates your colleagues on how to be culturally competent. This also has the benefit of educating your team on the business benefits of having a diverse workforce, which makes rolling out any D&I initiatives much easier, with everyone on board on why it is so crucial to a thriving business.

At The HR Consultants, we can support your D&I agenda by ensuring you have solid policies and are kept abreast of any future changes coming into law. We support you in all your happy people pursuits and ensure your people truly love their work. Find out how we can help your small business with HR services.