Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace is a hot topic right now. We as consultants, are often questioned by senior leaders and TA teams about ways to improve diversity in the workplace. As such, I felt I would write a brief article to share with my network which outlines the importance of attracting, creating, and retaining a diverse workforce.
Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace is much more than gender diversity, it should reflect the universal makeup of society. Your organisation should consist of a variety of people, from different backgrounds who bring different life experiences. This can include gender, experience, age, socio-economic levels, race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on.
Why is a diverse workforce so important?
Diversity boosts employee engagement.
Employees are far more likely to voice their opinions if they feel that others will listen to and acknowledge their point of view. Having a diverse workplace where a range of voices are heard and accepted encourages employees to actively engage in their work environment, resulting in higher levels of productivity, increased retention, and overall business success.
Diversity fosters creativity.
It is imaginative business ideas that set companies apart from one another. Employing a diverse group of people can help generate a wider and more varied pool of ideas that will give you an advantage over competitors. A BCG study reported innovation revenue to be 19% higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity, showing a close correlation between diversity and innovation.
Diversity cultivates innovation & investment.
Diversity gives you access to a greater range of talent, not just the talent that belongs to a particular worldview, age, or other restricting definition. Diversity helps provide insight into the needs and motivations your entire customer base. An example being that age diversity will bring experience and problem-solving methods from people with different historical experiences. These ideas will bring and attract investment. The same is said for businesses who employ an ethnically diverse workforce or a religiously diverse workforce. If you have not watched it, ‘The Intern’ is a noteworthy movie which highlights the above point.
Diversity streamlines the recruitment process.
A study conducted by Glassdoor found that two-thirds of active and passive job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. Having a diverse workforce attracts more applicants to your business.
Creating a diverse workforce.
It is all well and good aiming to have a diverse workforce, but if your organisation does not deliver an environment in which that diverse workforce will be enticed to and thrive in, then this is the first thing to address.
Below are a few ideas as to how you can make your organisation and workspace more attractive to a diverse talent pool and in turn, increase diversity across your organisation:
- Convert all job descriptions to gender neutral. Using the term ‘he/she’ may previously have been considered inclusive, but recruiters and internal teams should consider shifting towards pronouns such as ‘they’ in advertisements. This will help to ensure they are not discouraging talent who may not adopt conventional gender patterns. Furthermore, it is crucial to check the use of gender-associated words in the job description, examples of this could be the word ‘dominant’, this may discourage certain groups from applying to the position. There is a couple of platforms online which will highlight and change gender-coded words.
- Write job descriptions which are achievable, rather than a wish list. Consider the use of results-based job descriptions. Studies have shown that men will apply for a job if they meet 60% of the criteria, whereas women will only usually only apply if they meet 100% of them. Instead of job descriptions being based on a checklist or wish list of skills, job descriptions should ideally focus on what your new hire will be expected to achieve, a month, six months, and a year into the job.
- Establish diversity and inclusion early in the employee life cycle. Throughout employee onboarding, clearly convey why in your company D&I is important, how you define it, and steps you are taking to encourage D&I this in the workplace. Be primed to answer any questions your new hires have about what your company is doing to move the diversity needle and be open to their own suggestions. As mentioned earlier, new ideas are one of the benefits of a diverse workforce, you need to show you value your employee’s views and ideas.
- Allow flexible work hours. Show your employees you trust them to get their work done with the freedom to create their own work hours, where applicable. People have all sorts of personal situations that may affect their ability to work a strict 9 to 5. Lack of flexibility makes the lives of some employees unreasonably difficult, and they may respond by leaving for a company that can provide flexibility. Flexibility in the workplace is crucial. Studies show that 78% of the employees feel their productivity improves when work schedules are flexible. And 77% consider flexible work arrangements a key consideration when assessing job prospects.
- Market your success. As I mentioned earlier in this article, two thirds of people believe that a diverse workforce is an imperative factor when choosing a new position, if you do not show that you are achieving D&I goals, perspective hires may choose another company who has.
- Education. This is the most important point, make sure your entire workforce is educated on the importance of a D&I and that they are welcoming and helpful to new starters.
When it comes to building a successful and sustainable business in a global market, D&I is key. Businesses can no longer simply rely on carrying out their main business function. You have to take a stand, practice what you preach, and engage in corporate and social responsibility.