Article provided by Burcin Ressamoglu, CEO of Sodexo Engage
When there’s so much going on in a business, it’s easy to let important factors like diversity and equality slip through the net.
Instead of seeing diversity as an extra add-on that’s ‘nice to have’, businesses should see it as something that, if done right, can deliver numerous important benefits for the business.
Where to start
The vast majority of businesses are aware of the importance a diverse workforce has to the business. After all, it’s hard to ignore when racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform their industry competitors by 35%. But putting it into action is a different kettle of fish, and it can be hard to know where to start. Recruiting new talent is often an easy place to do just that.
In many cases, hiring practices can fall foul of unconscious biases which affect diversity and can mean good recruits are overlooked. Implementing a plan to tackle these prejudices is the best way to make sure they don’t impact any hiring decisions. For example, processes like blind recruitment can eliminate biases that the business didn’t even know existed. Not only will this make sure the best talent is brought into the team, but it will also result in increased diversity which, in turn, attracts a broader range of applicants to improve inclusivity in the organisation naturally.
At the same time, showcasing the company’s inclusive nature will encourage diversity on an even wider scale. In fields traditionally dominated by one gender or ethnicity, companies should make an effort to champion their staff, especially if they’re bucking the trend. For example, in fields like science or mathematics that are traditionally dominated by men, showcasing female staff will go a long way to encourage more women to apply for similar roles.
More than lip service
Changing the company culture won’t happen overnight. Realising that is the first step to making sure diversity is implemented properly and not left to take care of itself. Listening to what staff want and balancing that out with the business intentions or government requirements is no mean feat, so realising this and accepting that change takes time is half the battle. Dealing with the issues head on and giving solutions time to kick in will increase diversity organically, which is the best a business can hope for.
Once a company has begun to see improvement in its diversity practices, it’s vital to keep these initiatives front and centre. This is where management has to lead from the top, as they’ll be able to shape and develop the business goals and strategy to make sure diversity is maintained and promoted across the company.
Business leaders need to set the tone, but that’s not to say the rest of the company doesn’t have a big part to play. Getting staff at all levels involved will continue to drive change and make sure diversity is a regular conversation. The more staff that believe in the company vision, the more involved they’ll get.
It’s fantastic that talking about diversity is so commonplace, but businesses need to actually do something about it as well. All businesses can experience the all-encompassing benefits diversity has on the bottom line, from increased profits to better staff engagement and retention, but they have to take the plunge and implement real change. Weaving diversity policies into daily life at the business will make sure the issue stays at the forefront.