“Why promote Diversity in the workplace?” 

Diversity in any sized business should not be viewed as a legislative requirement but rather as an opportunity to grow and succeed. There have been many studies to show that companies with a diverse workforce fare better than companies who do not. 
Research by MarketWatch says that “Maintaining a diverse workforce is imperative for modern organizations to succeed. Companies with a diverse staff are better positioned to meet the needs of diverse customer bases, and the cash flows of diverse companies are 2.3 times higher than those of companies with more monolithic staff. Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets than organizations that do not actively recruit and support talent from under-represented groups.” 

“What does Diversity really mean?” 

Diversity means the practice of including or involving people from a range of different cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, ages etc. Diversity does not just refer to people working in an organisation but also at what level they work. For example, a company with a senior management team of 5 men but a predominantly female workforce would not be considered to have a diverse management team. The Equality Act details certain protective characteristics. It is illegal to discriminate against people for these characteristics either directly – because someone has the characteristic – or indirectly if the employee is associated with someone who has a protected characteristic. Below are our top tips to help with engaging employees and increasing diversity in the workplace, and how as a business you can embrace some of these differences and show support to all colleagues. 

Recruit Diversely for Success 

The first step to improving or introducing diversity within your business is of course the recruitment and selection process. Including a diversity statement in all job adverts is recommended – you could start with offering interview adjustments for those with a disability for example. Whilst encouraging a diverse group of people to apply for jobs, it is also important to understand ‘positive discrimination’. Positive discrimination is defined as employing someone because they have a protected characteristic, this is as unlawful as negative discrimination. A candidate should always be selected due to their suitability to do the job and not due to having or not having certain characteristics, even if you are doing it for the right reasons. During any recruitment process, particularly in the interview stage, it is a good idea to showcase a company’s support by showing a diverse recruitment panel. Of course, in some smaller organisations, this may not be possible; however, if it is, it will help give any applicants from BAME or LGBTQ more confidence in the businesses understanding of including diversity within the organisation. 

Train, train and train again…. Then make sure the training stays alive every day 

Formal training surrounding diversity in the workplace can be an effective way to address employees’ understanding of the subject. Diversity training has been found to work well, especially when it targets awareness and skill development and is consistently trained over a significant period of time, rather than a one-off training session. 
It may be beneficial to introduce formal training to your company, or you may feel that by doing some research, you could conduct your own in-house training provided by senior management. This would also demonstrate to all colleagues a level of understanding and support within the senior team of the organisation. Diversity training within the workplace helps to address all of the unique things that can make employees different to each other, protected characteristics – but also elements such as socio-economic backgrounds, mental and physical ability, and the manner in which we all work together. This moves businesses into a state of learning how to embrace differences amongst their employees and includes the valuable inputs that people from all backgrounds can bring to the company. It helps move organisations to a culture of inclusion, where everyone is equally valued. 

Celebrate ALL religious and cultural holidays 

Acknowledging and celebrating religious and cultural holidays other than those in the Christian calendar can be a good way of engaging employees and helping to show support to minority group holidays. Below are a few ways you might look to improve your businesses awareness of holidays that some employees may not normally celebrate, or even in some cases be aware of. 
Ensuring any practical elements of religious holidays can be carried out. This may be to allow individuals to take planned time off when their particular religious holiday is. You can also ensure that you have a quiet space for prayer or meditation. 
There are other, smaller things, that can make a big difference; for example, calling a ‘Christmas Party’ an ‘End of Year Party’ to be more inclusive. Remember, not everyone celebrates Christmas in the same way, or at all. 

Keeping it “live” 

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to have Diversity training or include it into our policies to ‘make it happen’…. But we aren’t in an ideal world, so we need to tirelessly work at these things. One of the most effective ways to show solidarity and support within a company is by ensuring all members of senior management have a good understanding of the company’s diversity objectives. Dependent on an individual organisation’s business structure, these managers can ensure that these are kept on the agenda within their own teams and departments. A person in a senior management role can help to initiate difficult conversations between colleagues and, with training, can help to ensure that discrimination is never present within the company environment. Again, depending on the size of the Organisation, Diversity (and Inclusion) should be weaved into the fabric of the company’s values; keeping it firmly on the agenda so that it becomes part of ‘who and how we act around here’. 

Use a ‘bottoms up’ approach 

No, I don’t mean get everyone drunk! Have open and transparent employee forums with employees about their ideas for increasing diversity in the workplace. They may be able to identify barriers that management are unaware of. For example, offering more flexible employment terms may encourage more female applicants. Supporting training schemes may appeal more to younger candidates and having an inclusive and supportive company culture – which is also visible externally, will help encourage other groups from different backgrounds apply for roles. 
If you would like support and help with diversity and inclusion policies, practices or training courses, please get in touch 
#diversity, #diversityforSME's, #diversityintheworkplace, #diversitytoptips, #recruitfordiversity 
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