The concept of Diversity and Inclusion is more than just an office buzzword.
Research has demonstrated that employers who value the power Diversity and Inclusion can bring to a business experience a boost in (i) employee retention (ii) innovation and (iii) financial performance, as well as creating a meaningful impact to company culture. For a business to experience the benefits that a more inclusive culture and fairer systems can bring, employers must first make Diversity and Inclusion a strategic priority.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) prepared a report in December 2022 that revealed almost half of employers have not introduced a Diversity and Inclusion strategy in their workplace. Only 48% of the employers surveyed reported to have a stand-alone Diversity and Inclusion business strategy. The research further revealed that of those employers with a formal strategy in place, only 18% had implemented proactive steps to monitoring its effectiveness.
The CIPD report raises concerns that momentum for prioritising Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in the workplace is slowing and highlights the danger of employers assuming that no further work is required. Whilst it is important to celebrate the progress employers have achieved in this area over recent years, it is equally (if not more) important that employers do not lose sight of their Diversity and Inclusion objectives and hold themselves accountable to their commitments and targets to ensure progress continues.
Below are seven steps the CIPD have recommended that employers can take to improve and strengthen their Diversity and Inclusion strategy for 2023:
- Build a long-term plan and track its progress - this is key for employers wishing to maintain a long-term commitment to fulfilling their inclusion objectives, and to be able to hold themselves accountable for their progress in fostering an inclusive workforce.
- Collect and use data to inform the approach to Diversity & Inclusion - the report noted that only 38% of employers surveyed collect some form of equal opportunities monitoring data from their employees and/or job applicants. Employers should record and monitor data to accurately inform their organisational changes and to help tailor their formal inclusion strategy to their own specific business and people needs.
- Assess the organisation's approach to people management from a Diversity & Inclusion perspective - the overall objective should be to promote equality and diversity in the workplace through social, cultural, and ethnic diversity of employees. This requires assessing internal policies and practices to see how as a business you can imbed equality, Diversity and Inclusion into policies, processes and procedures.
- Empower and train managers on Diversity & Inclusion - the more informed and aware those in management positions are on the support their employees require, the easier it becomes to create a supportive and inclusive workplace environment. Managers and leaders should take time to engage with their employees and to better understand the person behind the role as that knowledge can be a powerful tool in maximising the impact of (and engagement within) a team.
- Support leaders to champion Diversity & Inclusion as role models - Diversity and Inclusion champions and leaders should have an active role as they are the vocal and visual allies of the workforce. They are important role models as their behaviour exemplifies what inclusion means and they have a platform on which to hold others accountable.
- Tailor the approach to Diversity & Inclusion to suit the organisation - to deliver meaningful progress it is important that employers pinpoint Diversity and Inclusion patterns within their own individual workplace and tailor their inclusion agenda to address their own specific development areas in an impactful way.
- Maintain focus on the long-term aims - this will help measure the success and effectiveness that formal strategies are having on workplace culture and values over a longer period. Employers are encouraged to commit to annual or biannual reporting to ensure the drive for a positive and inclusive workplace continues.
Contributors Gillian Hutchison and Catherine Gallanagh