We live in a diverse society and so it is only to be expected that our workplaces will reflect that. Businesses are also beginning to realise how important it is to encourage diversity in the workplace. In this guide, we look at what workplace diversity and inclusion is and why it’s important for employers to encourage and adopt this concept in the workplace.
The easiest way to look at diversity is to ask yourself if your team reflects the make-up of the community around your business. While that sounds simple, it is often difficult to overcome the systemic traditions that drive what jobs or industry sectors people from different communities and backgrounds choose to go into, or what steps have been taken to include those with disabilities or other protected characteristics. This will include race, age, ethnicity, gender, disability and religion, but you might also want to look at personality types, skills and abilities and educational background.
Diversity is said to be one of the key drivers of growth and innovation within a business. It makes sense that a team is more diverse will bring a wider range of ideas, approaches and skills to a project or to dealing with a challenge. Different perspectives feed into decision making, and people with different experiences and backgrounds are less likely to ‘go with the flow’ in meetings or when managing people than if they are working in a less diverse group.
The more you can demonstrate diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the more likely it is that your company will be seen as one that is meeting its goals in terms of equality. Not only does it foster a sense of belonging among employees, where no one seems themselves as an outsider because they have a disability or don’t speak English as a first language, for instance, but it shows anyone visiting the company – as a customer or perhaps for a job interview – that yours is a company serious about its approach to diversity and inclusion.
The law requires all employers to treat every employee fairly and avoid discrimination. As many barriers as possible have to be removed to ensure a better, more attractive working environment for everyone. There are a number of steps you can take to highlight diversity and inclusion.
Ranging from the more formal accessibility training, which all employees complete to increase their understanding of what diversity and inclusion actually means, to informal strategies such as team building days, or social events that bring everyone together in a relaxed and fun environment. Major changes, such as improved accessibility into and within a building for those with disabilities might be required; smaller changes such as supporting a colleague who speaks English as a foreign language can be an important factor in helping someone settle in.
Recruitment agencies like ACS Staffing Solutions can offer a great deal of advice, from avoiding unconscious bias at the job application stage, through to help with implementing processes such as flexible working that supports parents of young children, or making processes more accessible for those with disabilities.
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