Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is creeping up the priority list for organisations recognising the advantages of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Benefits including improved performance, access to a larger talent pool and greater decision making are just a few of the reasons why organisations are looking to find ways to support D&I in their organisations.
Research also supports D&I with analysis by McKinsey (2019) finding that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.
In this blog we will outline 7 ways you can help to support diversity in your organisation.
The first step to supporting D&I is to acknowledge where issues exist. You can do this through evaluating and benchmarking your current position. Critically access your organisational culture, policies and practices. For example, by asking the following questions:
You can also use strategic metrics to benchmark and measure your organisations current position. For example by reviewing performance ratings, pay increase allocation, promotions, the percentage of staff in senior roles, exits within two years, and engagement scores.
By analysing your organisations current stance on D&I you will be able to actively acknowledge any existing issues and begin to tackle them with a strong business case for doing so.
This can be achieved by providing frameworks to help lead certain behaviours. For example, by providing resources that guide employees on how to avoid bias in language, gender or even class. It’s important that the organisation upholds a zero-tolerance policy to discriminatory behaviour such as bullying and harassment. This can be achieved by promoting a culture of openness and honesty, providing all employees with opportunities to speak openly about how they feel. For example, by setting visible objectives and values that compliment the diversity targets of your organisation. You can then ask employees open questions to get them to express their own opinions and experience. It’s important to do this in a setting that they feel at ease with, perhaps during a one-to-one. Access our free managers guides: 7 simple steps to one-to-ones via this link.
Like with any new initiative, it’s important to get managers’ buy-in and commitment to diversity and inclusion practices. This is particularly important those in senior manager roles. Managers should be encouraged to leverage KPI’s and their performance management systems with workforce diversity targets. Using a performance management system like Actus Software to set these targets has the benefit of being able to use data to decide on targets and avoid bias. By supporting managers to understand how to sensitively manage diversity issues they are far less likely to ignore and burry any issues.
In our previous point we highlighted the importance of collecting data to avoid bias, however it is important to ensure that you do receive employee consent to collect this data, particularly sensitive data. It is also important to ensure it is representative, kept safe and reviewed throughout the employees lifecycle.
Look to design training holistically into your organisation i.e. into your other performance management practices and training, with an ongoing emphasis that bias does not need to be permanent and can be unlearnt. Be wary of unconscious bias training which has been shown in numerous cases to be ineffective, or at worst to embed bias that make it acceptable! Unconscious bias training is more impactful when participants connect their behaviour to the disadvantages and discrimination that different groups face.
Increasing diversity hires is one thing, but in order for diversity to stick, you must account for inclusivity – the act of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised. For example, due to them having physical or mental disabilities, or members of a minority group. One way to go about this is to implement diverse mentorships. Studies have found that in some instances, mentorship programmes have translated into a 72% higher retention rate amongst mentees of the program. So in short, if you want to support employee retention, mentor them.
It’s really important that companies build a culture where all employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work. Managers should communicate and visibly embrace their commitment to multivariate forms of diversity, building a connection to a wide range of people and supporting employee resource groups to foster a sense of community and belonging. To encourage this positive action, it is important that managers feel fully supported and empowered along the way.
For a more in-depth look at this topic and how to support Diversity and Inclusion, sign up for our upcoming webinar below, hosted by Business Psychologist and Actus CEO, Lucinda Carney. You can also read our other blog on the topic of diversity here: How to design a diversity strategy in 5 easy steps