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Why Diversity and Inclusion Is Essential For All Businesses

Happy staff

Did you know there is a correlation between businesses that promote equal opportunities and fairness in the workforce and higher revenue, greater employee satisfaction, retention and productivity?

While it’s fair to say not all business owners are driven by anything other than what leads them to greater success. Happier workers, loyal customers and more money are reasons to change the company culture to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.

What does it mean to be a diverse and inclusive company today and which are the most diverse industries in the USA?

Diversity and Inclusion – Humble Beginnings

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate against gender, race, religion and nationality in hiring, promoting and firing.  With the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunities Commission) online in July 1965 – businesses had to adapt or eventually go out of business. As far as disruption goes, this law was major for businesses used to making hiring decisions without rules.

Workplaces are still evolving HR policies to promote fairness in recruitment and offer more excellent opportunities for all workers. With progressive organizations, onboarding presents examples of inclusiveness and a code of conduct that supports openness and variety.

What it looks like

According to this blog post an organization with diversity and inclusion has a company culture that has higher levels of:

  • Staff trust and loyalty
  • Willingness to work i.e. be productive
  • Job and company satisfaction
  • Innovation and adaptation
  • Teamwork

Transparency

Workplace discrimination is moving in the right direction – down and transparency of EEO-1 forms amongst big business is improving. Some top retailers and manufacturers have or are committed to releasing their EEO-1 forms to the public domain. For example, 83 of the top S&P 100 have or will share their data with USAToday.

Industries Leading The Way

Which sectors are leading the way with diversity and inclusion?  Here is a list that is by no means exhaustive but covers the top industries:

  • Retail, eCommerce
  • Logistics, Delivery
  • Transport
  • Travel
  • Hospitality
  • Financial services

Notable Absence

However, a notable absence of technology from the list is worrying when you consider how many workers they employ. Statista has a breakdown of tech sector employment and predicts 6 million people will work in a tech role by 2030. Think of all the big names of tech and how they can pour some of their innovation into better workplaces for workers!

Changing Your Company Culture

What can businesses do to improve their diversity and inclusiveness? There are many ways to foster organizational change so your company can reap the rewards of a happier more diverse workplace including:

Equal pay

Start with reviewing your equal pay policy. Does it ensure that everyone in the same roles, doing the same work gets the same pay and benefits? Is your payment policy transparent, and aligning with market pay bands? Make sure the employment contracts include the same terms for:

  • Overtime rates
  • Work hours
  • Bonuses
  • Company car (if applicable) and travel allowances
  • Pension access and benefits
  • Sick pay
  • Redundancy pay

Employee Resource Groups

You may be wondering what is an ERG (employee resource group). Fostering inclusion in your business can be guided by your staff. ERGs are voluntary and employee-driven with guidelines and resources for the business. Management can be invited to attend sessions and learn a lot about different cultures and employee experiences in the workplace.

Support Employee Resource Groups with tips on how to create:

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  • Goals
  • Mission and vision statement
  • Events
  • Feedback reporting
  • Budget for ideas, innovation

Adhering to best practices for organizing, and operating ERGs will focus staff on achieving positive outcomes and driving company-wide cultural change where it’s needed. ERGs need leaders which will be employees chosen by their peers. ERGs are a bottom-up approach to improving employee engagement and development. Do you want your employees to stay with your business? Set up an ERG.

Training

Invest in employee and leadership training so ignorance has no place in the business. Leaders must learn how to be empathetic. There will always be a need for ongoing instruction and learning about people management. All leaders need to know how to minimize tension and misunderstandings, remove fear and promote trust and loyalty.

Final Words

While diversity and inclusion in the workplace is not new, few businesses can say they’ve nailed it!

The future of work and business is dependent on open minds, transparency and a genuine desire to be better and do better than organizations that came before. There’s a lot of incentive to be more diverse and inclusive too. Consider if your business would like to be rewarded with higher revenue, greater employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.

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