Everyone deserves to feel comfortable and safe in their workplace and with the continuous rise of diversification, ensuring you have an inclusive, non-discriminative team is even more important for your company. In the UK, the ethnic minority population has grown from 8.7% in 2001 to 14% since 2011.
Improving diversity can not only benefit the work atmosphere but the efficiency and reputation of a company. By appealing to a broader set of cultural groups, your chance of recruiting the best candidate increases, giving the company a competitive edge over others. An inclusive workplace can also appeal to more applicants and current employees. It will increase employee retention as those in a less diverse company may leave due to a lack of representation. Teams with various cultures will be beneficial when it comes to working with various demographics and speaking other languages. Any company that cannot adequately diversify its workforce is likely to experience problems related to declining sales, employee turnover, inadequate recruitment, and even regulatory penalties, which could be detrimental to its reputation and finances. Under the Equality Act, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, pregnancy, marriage, or civil partnership should be protected against discrimination, harassment, and victimisation. We have listed some advice for improving diversity and inclusion within your workplace.
Educating other staff members is key to raising awareness and developing cultural sensitivity. Offering training to staff as well as educating yourself, identifying and challenging any stereotypes or biases that might already exist in the company; for example in the recruitment process, does your company have a work culture that is inclusive? One way this could be done is to document policies and procedures which protect the rights of all employees. Creating an efficient complaints process ensures a zero-tolerance policy towards prejudicial comments, as an employee can speak out about inappropriate behaviour, and it can be dealt with immediately.
Including cultural celebrations within your organisation will help employees feel represented and their culture valued, as well as educating and involving others not affiliated with it. Removing the barriers of language between those whose first language isn’t English encourages inclusivity. Offer language training, you could even translate word documents into different languages.
Accessibility helps create a comfortable environment for those with restricted mobility, e.g. providing, lifts, ramps, and automatic doors. Allowing flexibility with working hours can also help employees with disabilities, who cannot take public transport during peak hours, or those who need time off for cultural holidays.
As a community that still experiences prejudice, accommodating for LGBTQ+ employees will help them feel comfortable in an organisation. Having policies in the workplace that set guidelines on how to prevent discrimination is vital and LGBTQ+ should be a core part of this. Also making sure the policies include inclusion on pension, parental leave, and adoption. Again, training on LGBTQ+ issues is a good way for staff to stay informed and sensitive to the community. Even incorporating gender-neutral language removes a gender bias and helps non-binary feel represented and respected; for example, adding pronouns in email signatures, on social media profiles, and stating pronouns in meetings with which they identify, will let others know and so not lead to offending or disrespect. Acknowledging and celebrating Pride, LGBTQ+ History month, or Trans Day of Visibility just as other holidays, boosts inclusion and awareness.
Acknowledgment of religious practices is a keyway for religious employees to feel valued and respected. Either by granting time off during or just being mindful of the dates when it comes to organising meetings or events. Being flexible with religions that require worship at specific times shows value towards it. Perhaps providing a multifaith prayer room could boost employees to feel comfortable with their surroundings. Remove any sort of discrimination when it comes to different grooming and attire, (wearing a hijab or turban is protected by law) but allowing other attire or symbols helps employees feel able to express themselves. Consider dietary requirements during meetings, lunch breaks, and events for example, kosher or Halal. Even offering non-alcoholic drinks during events to those who abstain from alcohol shows respect for the religious practice.
Neurodiversity refers to the diversity in which people experience and interact with the world, but it is most used in the context of behaviour disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, or learning disabilities. Although conditions are different for every individual, it is important that these select groups of people are not disadvantaged during their work. Neurodivergent people can contribute very positively to a company as they often possess strengths in processing information, productivity, attention to detail, and dependability. It is important that despite these individuals previously being labelled ‘different’ from the norm, they do not miss out on roles where they could thrive. Although not deemed by others as ‘disabled’, they come under the Equality Act 2010 to the rite for protection against discrimination. Making it clear that your organisations commitment to diversity and equity, perhaps on the website and job applications will attract candidates and help them feel they can bring their authentic selves to interview. Also making reasonable adjustments for those who are disadvantaged due to their disability can make the work environment more comfortable for them. For example, someone with autism who becomes overstimulated or overwhelmed by noise may benefit from being allowed to wear headphones to cancel out noise.