Creating effective opportunities for diversity in the workplace is one of many arms that feed into good people management. Fundamentally it is about valuing and understanding all team members in the workforce as individuals to create an environment in which people can be themselves. This allows individuals to recognise their potential and feeds into a positive overall business culture.
The Equality Act offers legal structure on age, disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation among others. However, creating an effective, inclusive and diverse workforce goes beyond legal compliance. When done properly, it can add value to a business, contributing to employee wellbeing, engagement and performance.
What is Inclusion and Diversity?
Inclusion and diversity are often linked and associated as being one notion, but they are different from each other. It is remarkably easy to be inclusive and not diverse, or diverse and not inclusive. If we’re being formal (!) then:
Inclusion is defined in Oxford languages as “the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.”. In practice this means an environment where team members feel as though they belong without needing to go to unreasonable lengths of conformity.
Diversity is defined in Oxford languages as “the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”. In practice this means valuing a workforce that is capable of creating a vast array of perspectives and approaches to overcoming adversity.
It should go without saying that the social justice approach is centred on the belief that everyone has a right to equal access to employment, development and opportunities. In the UK we have laws that support this belief, notably the Equality Act 2010. Conducting business in an ethical and proud way requires businesses to think beyond the legal minimums that are in place. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has a vast amount of guidance in this area, it is a great source of authoritative truth and I recommend business leaders spend some time digesting the information available.
Why does Inclusion and Diversity matter for business?
Two main business benefits have been identified from good inclusion and diversity practice, Talent and reputation. However there are many other benefits such as culture, engagement and wellbeing.
Talent: Research from as recent as 2022 concludes that people want to work for businesses with strong and effective people practices, including diversity and inclusion. Feeling valued, a sense of belonging and opportunity for growth are key themes. Flexible job design and ways of working are also large contributors to take into consideration. WIth the surge of remote working over the past few years, it is now more important than ever to develop roles with an open-mind in order to attract and retain the best people.
Reputation: No business is immune to the criticality of reputation, it is important to address it at the highest level on a regular basis and take action where appropriate to steer the direction where the business reputation is headed. Diversity and inclusion is a very large contributor to this area.
The CIPD has produced a fantastic overall strategy for business, broken down into the following:
- Ensure that the most senior level of management are involved in supporting and driving diversity and inclusion, it should not be simply delegated and forgotten about.
- Keep up-to-date with local law, consult with experts where necessary.
- Design guidelines for line managers which explains the importance of diverse and inclusive management. Consider a workshop style development session to ensure the message is delivered.
- Be aware of differing international laws, this is crucial for international companies who operate across country boundaries.
- Set up ways of collecting and using good quality people data such as surveys, observations, feedback calls and exit interviews.
What we do at Eastside Co
At Eastside Co we understand the ethical and commercial benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce. In order to drive the diversity and inclusion within our business we have several initiatives in place, here are some of them:
- Employee Resource Groups. We use Slack internally for our informal communication, like most companies seem to these days. We have several groups set up on Slack specifically to offer guidance, support and output for employees. Our most popular groups are the parenthood channel and the LGBT channel.
- Leadership Development and Training. We conduct bi-weekly leadership workshops to develop the ability of our leaders. This includes topics of diversity, inclusion, equity and fairness amongst many others. We also conduct a bi-weekly junior leadership workshop, for employees who wish to learn more about progressing into the world of leadership.
- The Fellowship of ESC. We have a group of employees, one from each department, that meet quarterly to represent their fellow team members. This diverse group is an invaluable resource for us to push adversity and challenges through, they always deliver possible solutions that I would not have considered alone.
If you’d like to hear more or join our team then check out our latest vacancies here or connect with one of us on LinkedIn.