Organisations trying to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives often go for a temporary solution, failing to embed the core qualities that make an equitable workforce. Establishing workplace diversity requires three factors: promoting equity, placing increased value on difference and creating a sense of belonging.
Firstly, creating a fair and impartial environment is key to ensuring that everyone can excel in a diverse workforce. Secondly, initiatives need to satisfy basic human needs, such as uniqueness and belonging. Organisations need to appreciate the value that people bring to an organisation because of their individual differences. Finally, creating an environment that allows people to feel comfortable and that they belong will be crucial to creating a high-performing diverse workforce. Valuing the strength that comes from workplace diversity is the first step to implementing a successful diversity and inclusion initiative.
How can organisations transform the workplace and harness the power of a diverse workforce?
In our whitepaper, we outline multiple tools that organisations can use to reinvent diversity and inclusion programmes. Below, we present four initiatives that can be implemented today.
At an organisation level
1. Understand an organisations’ diversity and inclusion blind spots
Just because some may not be aware or have been subject to inequality in the workplace does not mean that non-inclusive behaviours are not present. Organisations should complete a culture audit to engage with individuals in the workplace through small group discussions and feedback forums. These techniques allow the evaluation of processes, practices and deeply embedded aspects of an organisation’s culture which may be overlooked, and could be negatively impacting people’s working lives. Providing employees with an anonymous way to express their honest feelings is an efficient way to highlight organisational culture gaps. Without gaining this insight, leaders will not have the sufficient evidence to know where to start with improving their organisations’ diversity and inclusion initiatives.
2. Revitalise recruitment and talent management strategy
Organisations need to rethink their recruitment process and consider whether they are creating job adverts that would attract a diverse workforce. Proactively sourcing talent from underrepresented groups encourages a wider range of ideas and values within the workforce. To achieve this, organisations can recruit from more diverse universities and broaden companies’ networks by connecting with groups that support underrepresented people. In job advertisements, organisations should display their equity statement as this encourages candidates from a range of backgrounds to apply. These techniques can aid an organisation in harnessing workplace diversity.
At an individual level
3. Develop the capabilities of team leaders
Whilst change at an organisational level has huge benefits, leaders also play a critical role in enhancing and embedding workplace diversity. If a diversity and inclusion initiative is implemented but leaders fail to engage with the programme, this could have detrimental effects in creating a diverse workforce. Managers need to make a conscious effort to incorporate specific leadership capabilities to successfully embed diversity and inclusion. This involves upskilling team leaders on four key capabilities: being an active ally to underrepresented groups, staying openly curious about the experiences of others, making equitable decisions and enabling people to feel free to be themselves.
4. Nurture existing diverse talent
A common oversight in implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives is the power of existing diverse talent. To achieve workplace diversity, organisations must recognise and support existing talent to unlock their potential. For instance, research has shown clerical tasks are more likely to be assigned to minority groups and women as opposed to developmental tasks6. To combat this, organisations must develop underrepresented individuals’ capabilities and implement sponsorship programmes to provide support. This will also allow organisations to evaluate the systems and practices in place which may have overshadowed diverse talent previously.