Diversity in the workplace brings tangible benefits to productivity, engagement and the bottom line. In fact, we know that more diverse teams perform better, as firms in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.
Amidst the current Covid-19 pandemic, and in light of recent events, it's important to recognize that diversity is especially important now, at a time when we need creative and innovative thinking to provide solutions to new challenges. The evidence is irrefutable – it's imperative to foster an inclusive and diverse team to ensure maximum performance for your organisation.
So how can a company promote diversity in practice? There are a number of measures that can be introduced, but what’s important is that every person in the organisation is engaged and on board with these ambitions - especially the leadership team.
1. Draw on the value of education
Encouraging education to promote diversity in the workplace is key. Having diversity training in place signposts your intentions to create change within the workplace culture. This could involve introducing a cultural ambassador or diversity and inclusion specialist to support employees, answer queries and concerns directly, and liaise with senior management in order to evaluate approaches to fostering diversity. Further to this, adding in training such as ‘conscious inclusion’ courses sets a benchmark for companies who are serious about reflecting and ensuring change is implemented.
As diversity grows within a business, so should its leaders. Importantly here, just ‘listening’ and ‘talking’ are not enough of a driver and can just be lip service which doesn’t tackle ingrained and underlying issues. By involving leadership in a diversity training programme, you can educate your workforce on the value of diversity, increase their confidence in using the right language and demonstrate the importance the company is placing on nurturing an inclusive environment.
2. Promote diverse role models
Diversity needs to be embedded into the core ethos of an organisation. Until you provide a platform for your diverse talent to see people like themselves succeeding, achieving and doing well, it will be difficult to foster a truly inclusive culture. This is a call to action for businesses to lead the way in championing what true diversity should look like by creating an environment which can foster the fair promotion of diverse voices and role models within the organisation.
At Audeliss, we have seen the power that role models can have from our support of the EMpower Ethnic Minority, the OUTstanding LGBT+ and the HERoes Women Role Model Lists. Many of the companies who have employees in these lists champion both their participation and also openly celebrate their achievements through their internal communications, making the most of an opportunity to showcase their current and future diverse leaders.
3. Create opportunities to foster cultural awareness
A significant part of raising cultural awareness includes recognising the value of ‘authentic voices’ within the workplace. This encourages individuals, either from within the business, or externally, to speak about their own cultures and experiences, opening up dialogue and ensuring all voices are heard including those in the minority.
Senior management teams should also promote a positive reflection of self-identity through raising cultural awareness. This can be demonstrated through celebrating events such as Black History Month, Pride, International Women’s Day and religious holidays within the business.
Equally, supporting cultural awareness will help your team to develop acceptance, understanding and most importantly, inclusivity, both in a professional and personal capacity.
However, it's important to remember that diversity isn’t just about disability, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation; it’s about the wide range of thinking, views and perspectives which can benefit an organisation, as well as the value of embracing new thinking from other sectors and differing backgrounds.
Even though leadership takes a key role and change should be pushed down from the top, promoting diversity in the workplace ultimately has to be everyone’s responsibility. This means it has to become embedded into all areas of the company and be a consideration within all processes and policies – including recruitment, training, HR policies, office layout, social events, and internal communications, to name just a few.