With people around the globe voicing their support of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s the perfect time for organisations to be discussing Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) points out that discrimination in the workplace impacts the wellbeing of staff, reduces employment opportunities for minority groups and prevents organisations from fully recognising candidates’ skills and experience. Diversity and Inclusion are important not only from a perspective of equality, but also due to their effect on overall company health.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
Diversity is all about recognising difference. A study published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy demonstrates that if ethnic minority workers were fully represented in the workplace, the economy would gain an extra £24 billion per year.
In the public sector, 12% of workers are reported to be from an ethnic minority background but only 5.3% of top wage earners are in ethnic minority groups. Moreover, in the majority of local government authorities, women are paid 6.8% less than men, a gap which is more pronounced at the county council level with a median gap of 13.1%.
However, Diversity is only half of the problem. In order to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, organisations also need to practice Inclusion and place value on people’s differences. Everyone in the workforce should be made to feel that they belong and that their ideas are considered. It is only when organisations achieve this that they can take full advantage of the varied and diverse ideas that come from an inclusive workforce.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
UNDERSTAND THE REASONS BEHIND DISCRIMINATION
To begin implementing measures to improve Diversity and Inclusion, we need to identify what kinds of discrimination exist in the workplace. This includes biases such as implicit stereotypes, in-group favouritism, and the view that out-groups are less diverse than the in-group.
It is important to address these forms of bias to begin building a diverse workplace. McKinsey list a variety of ways to overcome these biases, including educating members of your organisation to reduce their personal biases, reducing the influence of biases in decision making, and applying behavioural principles to diversity strategies.
HOW TO BUILD AN INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
An excellent starting place is to measure the inclusivity of your organisation. The CIPD offers tools such as their Inclusion Health Checker, which can provide tailored recommendations for measures your organisation can take to become more inclusive.
The CIPD 2019 Research Report on building inclusive workplaces also lists a variety of useful suggestions, including assessing your people management policies and practices, analysing employee data to uncover barriers to Inclusion and encouraging behaviours such as allowing employees to call out exclusion.
Making reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities will also encourage inclusion in your organisation, for example accessible parking spaces, modifying equipment and assigning mentors. The Local Government Association also suggests revisiting your health & safety practices, expanding data monitoring and performance appraisals, and conducting Equality Impact Assessments.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BUILDING A DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE?
HR professionals frequently stress the link between inclusion and innovation. A diverse workforce is much more likely to represent the diversity of experiences of the residents in your authorities, which is why valuing every employee’s differences is extremely important. This not only benefits British residents but also results in a higher rate of attraction and retention of staff. Moreover, employees in inclusive workplaces are more likely to be satisfied with their work, show greater levels of creativity due to a diverse range of problem solving approaches, and a lower rate of absenteeism.
The Local Government Association highlights case studies which demonstrate the financial impact of inclusion. For instance, Leicester City Council implemented changes in the city centre which had an adverse effect on residents with disabilities. They were able to reduce costs in making adjustments by putting together an Inclusive Design Advisory Panel (IDAP).
Building Inclusive workplaces benefits everyone. We must all take active steps towards improving the diversity and inclusivity of our organisations so we can all reap the benefits of a fairer society.
- CIPD Diversity Fact Sheet
- Official Statistics: BME Individuals in the Labour Market
- ONS: Who Works in the Public Sector
- Local Government Workforce Survey 2017-2018
- The Gender Pay Gap in Local Government 2018
- McKinsey: Diversity Matters
- CIPD: Building Inclusive Workplaces
- PeoplePoint HR: Equality and Diversity Policy Assistance
- Local Government Association: The Business Case for Equality