As more organisations recognise the benefits of a diverse workplace, and the push to ensure that our global and broad society is accurately represented, the importance of successfully integrating all members of the workforce is often overlooked. It is easy to understand how this can happen. Eliminating unconscious bias in hiring practices and ensuring that minority groups are equally represented is one of the biggest challenges faced by most organisations. Or, is it?
This is where the ‘I’ in ‘D and I’ takes centre stage.
There is a reason that you rarely hear one of these words without the other. To achieve diversity but to not be inclusive, or to be considered inclusive, without the added benefit of diversity, can render your commitment to these practices futile. While diversity in the workplace has a number of benefits, including those described in the last blog of this series ’How Committed is your Business to Diversity?’, no employee, regardless of background or experience, wants to feel as though they are on the outside looking in. Here lies the challenge in fostering an inclusive environment in your organisation.
Inclusive working practices could be considered the ‘call to action’ of diversity. And the benefits for companies who subscribe to this way of thinking are far greater than just ticking the ethical correctness box. Here are just some of the many benefits that inclusive companies can benefit from:
Problem solving and innovation: An inclusive environment, one that encourages participation from all its employees, benefits from varied perspectives on how to tackle barriers to success. Developing ‘outside the box’ solutions is one of the results of a diverse and equally contributing team, whose varied backgrounds, experiences and culture ensures that you are able to confront complex challenges with a fresh outlook and develop innovative solutions. Who wouldn’t want to capitalise on the strategic advantages this could afford your company?
Access to new markets: Ever wondered why you may have had trouble breaking into that new market? A workforce that encourages and champions the contributions of employees from all walks of life also brings a far greater knowledge base. Whether this be cultural or political knowledge, even the added benefits of multiple languages. It can make taking the plunge into the unknown far less confronting. Treat it as completely legal ‘insider knowledge’ so to speak.
Workplace costs: There are a number of costs which can be associated with workplaces that are not inclusive. Lost productivity due to discrimination, the possibility of having to replace unhappy staff and potential legal costs can all be reduced with an inclusive working environment. There is also damage to the company’s reputation to consider, and the costs involved with trying to undo the damage of public diversity complaints. A positive reputation when it comes to D and I can also effectively set you apart from your competition.
You only need to look at some of the UK’s largest enterprises to see the evidence of the benefits of incorporating diversity and inclusion best practices. And I am yet to hear of an organisation who didn’t want to enrich their company culture and better their service provision.
If your organisation is ready to take the next step on its diversity and inclusion journey, tune into our next blog, which will cover some easy to implement suggestions to enable you to capitalise on all these benefits.