Diversity and inclusion have been high on the agenda over the last 12 months, at a national and global level, and this has left many of us wondering what we can do to help address inequality in all areas of our lives.

Unfortunately, we continue to see a number of examples of inequality within our workplaces, such as a lack of opportunities for women in leadership positions and biases within the recruitment and selection process.

Whilst progression towards equality is happening, like any change, it is undoubtedly going to take time. Understanding what diversity and inclusion mean in the professional environment is a good place to start.

What are diversity and inclusion?

Diversity involves accepting, respecting and appreciating people’s differences. Whilst we may have similarities, we are all unique in our own ways so let’s empower one another, explore our differences and celebrate the positivity that diversity can bring to our communities and workplaces.

Inclusion is about giving individuals, irrespective of their differing attributes, the opportunity to feel that they belong, that they are equal and are welcomed and enabling them to thrive within the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion trainers, the Verna Myers Company provide an enlightening analogy of the difference between diversity and inclusion. They say that “diversity is being invited to the party” and “inclusion is being asked to dance”.

While many of us understand that committing to greater diversity and inclusion is simply the right thing to do, to help drive adoption in our professional and commercial activities it can also be useful to focus on the many benefits that they bring to a company and its workforce.

What are the benefits of embracing diversity?

Talent: Covid-19 has without a doubt impacted the jobs market, but it has also enabled organisations to access a far wider talent pool than ever before. Geographical limits have been removed for many professions due to the need to work from home.  Employees are readily widening their searches to find the perfect job and employer for their ambitions, regardless of location. So, now more than ever, an employer that proactively embraces diversity opens up the opportunity to attract the very best candidates to their company.

Higher retention, lower turnover: Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows that people want to work for employers who value them and who have good employment practices. Having a diverse workforce will influence their ability to not only recruit but also retain talent within their teams.

Employees who feel valued, respected, listened to and accepted are more likely to remain within an organisation so having a strong diversity and inclusion strategy will support organisations in achieving higher retention levels and therefore lower turnover rates.

Improved performance: Every business wants optimal performance.  To do this they need help from their greatest assets: their people. Unhappy employees, who are underwhelmed, bored, disillusioned and who fear raising their thoughts and opinions are not going to be highly motivated or working with the best interests of the company in mind.

An open and inclusive culture is vital to achieving higher levels of productivity. The Harvard Business Review has highlighted recently that organisations who choose to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion are actually 70% more likely to capture new markets.

Promoting and supporting diversity within the workplace is at the core of good people management. The best way to truly benefit from a diverse workforce is to engender a fully inclusive working environment where each and every person feels able and confident to participate.

What next?

UK government legislation sets the minimum standards on diversity and inclusion with which organisations need to comply. However, a diversity and inclusion strategy which seeks value and contributes positively to employee engagement and overall wellbeing will enable your business to stand out from the crowd, become an employer of choice and enjoy all the benefits that that can bring.

See our key action plan below for more suggestions on how you can get started in your business.

Key action plan for diversity and inclusion  

If you would like to discuss diversity and inclusion, train your teams in D&I awareness, or have any other HR matter, please do not hesitate to contact Progeny HR Consultancy & Advice, we would be delighted to hear from you.

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