A leading topic that has dominated HR focus and continues to follow companies into the new world of work is diversity and inclusion. In recent headlines, for example, it was announced that Lloyds of London have made steps towards a cultural initiative by issuing a Guide to Trans and non-Binary Inclusion, endeavoring to foster an environment that is safe for employees of all gender identities.
Ensuring that employees from different backgrounds, beliefs and orientations are understood, represented and accepted in a modern workplace is one of the challenges many HR leaders are facing. For businesses that pride themselves in forward-thinking work practices and solutions, having a integrated workforce can boost credibility and drive performance. According to a study conducted by entrepreneur.com, the Institute of Public Relations and KRC Research, 47% of millennials surveyed said they considered diversity and inclusion an important factor during job searches. Similarly, McKinsey & Co. found that gender-diverse companies outperform their peers by 15%, while ethnically diverse business did so by a larger 35%. Companies that additionally lack a diverse or inclusive workforce leave themselves open to public criticism, either through the media or through employees voicing their concerns on platforms such as Glassdoor.
Here are steps a company leadership team can take in order to create a more inclusive work environment:
Knowing the difference between diversity and inclusion
Simply put, diversity surrounds the stats and numbers behind your workforce demographic, whether it is through gender, race, sexual orientation, disability and others. Inclusivity leans towards making sure employees are respected by each other and leaders, that their needs are met and that they generally feel comfortable coming to work every day.
Host training sessions
A way to tackle ignorance regarding a minority’s day-to-day experiences is facilitating education of various sociocultural topics. Invite third-party experts to take the lead in these sessions, preferably from those who are of the ‘category’ they are teaching about. Strongly encourage people managers to attend training and invite them to use what they have learnt to in turn educate their respective teams. Remember, change starts from the top.
Invest in an inclusive physical workspace
According to official UK government data, the number of people with disabilities who are in employment has been increasing since 2013, with an estimated 4.1 million as of late 2019. The Equality Act 2010 (UK) states that employers have a duty to amend the workplace in order to accommodate both disabled employees and/or applicants for job roles. These amendments include the likes of step-free access, wide doorways and disabled toilet facilities, amongst others.
The office space can also be customized to other employee needs. Companies with wider budgets can even dedicate certain spaces for those who need privacy during prayer. For more information on how changing an office layout can have its benefits, click here.
Listen to employees
Workplace and diversity remains a sensitive topic for many businesses and their employees. For honest and thoughtful perspectives, consider getting further insights by sending surveys to your internal teams. An anonymous collection of responses will give employees a safe space to voice their concerns or praise existing initiatives.
For more articles and insights into the new world of working, visit our catalogue of expertise!