Be More Than a Box-Ticker

Diversity and Inclusion for Modern Businesses

Diversity and inclusion in workplace

Recently I was asked a question: ‘How do I know if an employer genuinely cares about diversity and inclusion?’

For a couple of seconds, I struggled to answer. I had to acknowledge that there often isn’t an easy way of distinguishing the box-tickers from those who really care.

Whether it’s a company’s gender pay gap or the ethnic diversity of their workforce, potential employees are more discerning than ever when it comes to choosing which organisations they want to be part of. But it can be tricky for them to know what to believe
and what to be sceptical of.

Some firms that shout the loudest may be found wanting when it comes to the substance of their practices; others who barely mention diversity externally may be fiercely
committed to it internally.

As a business, it’s vitally important you get the balance right. So let’s look at some of the ways you can ensure diversity and inclusion is truly at the heart of what you do.

Prospective Employees
One of the first things I do when I visit an employer’s website is search for the word ‘diversity’. Depending on the size of the organisation, I’ll usually find their gender pay gap report – and not a lot else!

If you’re an employer who’s keen to promote yourself as inclusive, your own website – particularly the recruitment section – is a great place to start.

Ask yourself some key questions:
• Do the images on your site reflect the diversity of people you want to hire?
• Do you express an explicit commitment to diversity?
• Are your employee network groups promoted here?
• Can prospective employees contact these networks and hear about the experiences of your staff?

If you already do all of this, great – but it shouldn’t end here. Potential applicants need to know this is more than one-off lip service.

Lots of firms, for example, celebrate Pride Month, International Women’s Day and Black History Month. But how do you share the important messages of these events throughout the rest of the year?

Your social media channels may be a great way to promote your activity on International Women’s Day, say, but a lack of messaging throughout the rest of the year on gender equality may give the impression that you’re only paying attention when it’s trending.

Future Employees
Once an offer has been made to an applicant, the next step is getting them to day one.

In order to tackle increasing renege rates on apprentice and graduate programmes, employers must begin to build relationships with their future employees as early as
possible. And diversity and inclusion should be part of the conversation.

Providing regular updates, and giving incoming staff the opportunity to engage with current employees – perhaps at internal events – are just a couple of the ways you can communicate messages about your inclusive practices and culture. It’s important that successful applicants are kept emotionally invested in the values of your organisation.

Demonstrating your Commitment
Diversity and inclusion is sometimes seen as simply an HR function or a recruitment tool. But treating it as such limits your firm’s horizons and can lead to your employees feeling undervalued and deceived.

Now that an employee has joined your business, they’ll start to really get a sense for your internal culture. If you haven’t done so already, this is the time to outline the strategies you have in place to hold your staff, managers and systems to account when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

In other words, it’s vital to demonstrate that you have a comprehensive and living D&I strategy.

And if you can show how this strategy is aligned to your core mission, you’ll go a long way to proving that diversity and inclusion are vital components of your firm, rather than mere window-dressing. You’ll also be able to demonstrate how D&I ties into the financial success
of the firm.

Upholding your Commitment
How do you properly create and nurture an inclusive workplace? It’s not simply a case of diversifying your new hires and expecting inclusion to follow automatically. A diverse workplace is not necessarily an inclusive one.

Opportunities for progression are key. It’s clear to see in certain sectors that diversity at entry level is often not carried through to managerial level.

Some claim this is a historic issue that will naturally correct itself over time. But I do not believe change will happen unless organisations constantly challenge their practices and assumptions. Your D&I strategy should outline exactly how you intend to do this.

Employee network groups play an important role. They need to be far more than just social bodies; they should act as in-house experts, support structures, critical friends.

As you evaluate your policies, these groups provide the lived experience behind the policy wordings. They can recommend adaptations and new ideas. And they can help to educate
others within your business of the issues that affect their communities.