It may seem daunting to embark on integrating diversity and inclusion (D&I) into your business, but there are simple pragmatic steps that you can take to successfully integrate D&I into everything that you do in the workplace.
1. Build upon your existing strengths
You may well be doing some great work already and if so, make sure that is known and celebrated. Think about what is working well – what policies are in place that support D&I, which people are true champions for the cause, which leaders demonstrate that they are on top of the D&I agenda; day in and day out and this is part of a mapping process, so you know where you are up to now.
Look at how you can build upon these successes; what is the next natural step, what opportunities are there to do even better, which of your champions can help lead the way to the next level of D&I?
2. Link D&I to your business strategy
It sounds so simple, but it is often not done. Linking D&I to your business strategy is critical to bring about real change in a strategically integrated manner. Otherwise, D&I can be felt to be an ‘add on’ and peripheral to the real work of the company.
Make sure to nurture a diverse customer base, as well as a diverse team. Diversity increases revenue, too, so this is another sure-fire way to align with your business strategy.
3. Run forensic analysis on your existing processes
Look deeply at the processes within your business and review all aspects – recruitment, line management, meetings, ideation, and so on. Are the processes inclusive? Do they promote diversity or restrict it?
For example, if your recruitment process requires a degree, ask yourself why? Is this essential to the fulfilment of the role? Such a requirement can compound pre-existing underrepresentation of certain groups within university education. Unless your field or the role really calls for a degree, consider removing the requirement.
4. Create the capacity for D&I in people’s roles
Help your staff understand that D&I is a part of their job role. Ideally, the way in which D&I is relevant to each and every role is made explicit in the job role and criteria as well as in the performance objectives.
Ensure you build the capacity of all staff to think about D&I in all communications, internally and externally. We all need help to challenge our unconscious bias through professional development It’s important that this fact is understood and seen as positive learning and development.
5. Require partners support D&I themselves
By now, you have already linked D&I to your business strategy. Now ask that the partners you work with do the same. For example, an easy step that can really add up is to require that suppliers pay their employees at least a real living wage.
Requiring partners to support D&I is such a significant step, and if all businesses took the opportunity to weave it into their supply chain, it would make a real difference. After all, it is important to decide ‘who we want to do business with’.
6. Encourage staff to discuss D&I (after training)
Think carefully about how to ensure staff can discuss D&I and how it relates to what they are paid to do. Great training helps them to have these conversations with both confidence and sensitivity.
Simply saying ‘discuss the issues’ without education and training is not advisable; people need to have time to think through how discrimination and prejudice work and be given the skills to address them.
Bonus: Celebrate your successes!
Celebrate the progress made. This doesn’t mean becoming complacent, but instead, you continue to build on strengths. Sometimes organisations are so worried about getting it wrong they don’t do anything. We are all on a learning curve on D&I, and the best leaders know that this is a life-long journey.
Read this next…
Simon Reichwald, Strategic Lead for Talent at underrepresented talent specialist MyKindaFuture, reflects on the progress of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in UK businesses in 2020 and offers his advice for sustaining momentum as companies continue to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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