On the screen, ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’, ‘equality’ and ‘equity’ might look like a lengthy list of words — but, in meaning, they are interlinked. You should also be careful not to underestimate the extent to which heeding these principles with your business practices can generate meaningful results.
According to one statistic shared by Business News Daily, a diverse and inclusive workplace can also be a 20% more innovative one. You don’t need to look too far for examples of how businesses have thrived as a result of integrating diversity into their agendas.
Examples of how diversity and inclusivity have been enacted
Let’s look first at the food and management services provider Sodexo, which has set out goals of achieving workplace diversity along gender, age and sexual-orientation lines but especially emphasised gender equality.
Today, women comprise 37% of the company’s executive committee and 60% of Sodexo’s board of directors. Meanwhile, 60% of the staff at the healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente are people of colour, and the company watches out for job candidates from the LBTQIA+ community.
Kaiser Permanente says that it has benefitted from promoting a “speak up” culture and encouraging staffers to “lead from where they stand”.
Be careful not to let unconscious bias creep in
One big problem with stopping bias in its tracks is that it can emerge in your behaviour without you even being consciously aware of this nefarious influence.
For example, in your workplace’s lobby, you might have left clearly gendered reading materials that can’t really be justified just on the basis of the industry in which your company operates. As a LinkedIn article explains: “Unless you’re into fashion, GQ probably doesn’t belong in your lobby”.
Meanwhile, the temperature in your office building could be defaulting to what men are most comfortable with — potentially leading women in your team to always have to put on extra layers simply to keep chills at bay.
You could put people at ease by hanging a poster that explains your firm’s commitment to D&I (diversity and inclusion) or how employees can do their bit to help make the workplace more inclusive and welcoming for members of often-overlooked demographics.
Make sure workplace benefits and perks maintain a level playing field
Let’s assume that you want to introduce critical illness cover — where, if an employee or a dependent of theirs picks up an illness defined in the policy, a payout is made.
You could indeed introduce critical illness cover as an optional benefit for your workers. However, if you attempt to provide each one with an individual policy, the costs could soon stack up so heavily that you end up having to withdraw this particular benefit.
If you do this while letting certain members of your staff continue to hold critical illness cover you have provided to them, you could be accused of favouritism.
Hence, it would be ideal if, from the start, you keep the benefit within your financial means — as you could find you are able to do by taking out a group critical illness cover policy.