Everyone is talking about their Diversity and Inclusion goals and strategies. “We have set a 50:50 target for women in our senior roles by 2025” “We are going to eliminate our pay gap” …….the question is how? I’m not convinced by many of the strategies that organisations are relying on, I feel they are often not based on data or are missing the elements required for success. Add to that the complexities of Covid-19 and the heightened impacts to minority groups, and the redundancies of Diversity and Inclusion staff - this could be the perfect storm that rapidly expands the privilege gap.
So what should organisations do? Firstly, they must value Diversity and Inclusion! But when it comes to developing economically viable and sustainable strategies that actually deliver change then I believe the following four elements are essential:
What gets measured gets managed, this is not new. But too often D&I plans don’t have strong accountability measures that are linked into the regular business of the organisation. They are plans stuck off to the side, on a shelf in a D&I managers office. When they should be interwoven into the Workforce Management Plans, they should form a vital part of the organisation’s overall strategy (and not just as the value set) and they should be contained within the performance objectives or capability statements of every single leader and manager in the organisation. If someone develops a communication piece about the social club – they should ensure the messaging and imagery is inclusive and be held to account if its not. If a new travel policy is written does it take into account the different challenges faced by minority groups like people with disability or LGBTIQ+?
Unconscious bias training or cultural awareness training are important to creating inclusion but on their own are not enough. Research shows that being aware of our biases doesn’t necessarily change the decisions that we make, in the end we may still choose to hire the person who will “hit the ground running”. The combination of awareness and well-crafted policies and procedures that reduce the ability of bias to impact the decision allows you to cultivate diversity and promote inclusion. In the recruitment example, a procedure that ensures a diverse array of people are involved in the recruitment, priority is given to diverse candidates in the shortlisting process and reporting on recruitment data is conducted regularly are all things that can create a fairer outcome and increase diversity.
OK so now you can bring in the awareness training but don’t stop there:
None of this work cuts through unless your direct line managers are demonstrating inclusive leadership. This is a learnt set of skills and too often it is not recognised as such. Leaders need to become aware of their identity, understand their bias and what they can do about it and be taught how to address discrimination or exclusion if they witness it. They need to be taught how to lead meetings in an inclusive way and how to take into account diverse perspectives to improve their decision making processes. Managing diversity in the workplace is not easy but is rewarding once you have the skills and confidence to do it.
If you get those four things right, you are now on your way to attracting more diverse candidates to your business and retaining them once they are in the door. You are also well placed to realise the documented benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace including increased productivity, more innovation and improved staff engagement and trust - all things that every organisation needs right now.
As always if you would like advice on existing plans, adjusting them in the wake of Covid-19 or realise it’s time to create a Diversity and Inclusion strategy please contact Bree. Also if you are convinced by point number 4 - click here and learn about my diversity and inclusion in the workplace online course.
15 October 2021
06 September 2021
16 August 2021