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So often, we hear the terms ‘diversity and inclusion’ classed as one. A single synonymous entity that, for a lot of people, is completely interchangeable. When discussing diversity, it’s quite easy to get distracted with the stats: getting to a percentage of women on boards, of ethnic minorities and so forth, but what do these stats say and what do they mean? Is it enough to increase diversity in the workplace without also pushing for that diverse workforce to be more included?
Initiatives such as the launch of the 30% club in Australia: a push to get 30% women on ASX 200 boards, is a fantastic win for promoting diversity. In fact, since its launch in 2015, the percentage of women on boards in Australia has increased by 10%. But what must businesses do to ensure this goes hand in hand with inclusion? Time and time again research has shown that diverse workforces work better and are more profitable. But what is diversity without inclusion?
Working in the recruitment sector, we come across and partner with a lot of businesses that promote diversity and inclusion practices as part of the lure of working for them. These businesses understand that just having a diverse workforce is not enough without ensuring inclusion once that workforce is in place. After all, it’s inclusion that drives employee engagement, makes staff feel valued and, ultimately, supports retention.
So, how have these businesses managed to embed diversity and inclusion collectively within the fabric of their companies?
Nothing makes employees feel more valued than being included in the decisions that affect them directly. In fact, organisations adopting a flat hierarchy structure are on the rise, stripping away the standard management – employee relationship and allowing everyone to contribute. Regardless of your preferred mode of operation, people hire people who will add value to a business, perhaps in a way that existing structures won’t. So, it makes no sense to not ask them for their opinions and different perspective; so that you know the decisions you make as a business will be catering to all the people in the business.
Organisations must appreciate that employees won’t share the same degree of passion on everything. By managing from top down, this can sometimes get missed. Asking employees how they feel about every facet of the business with a company-wide culture check and audit can help to ascertain where the business strength and weaknesses are. Quite often what frustrates employees is inertia, so merely asking for their thoughts is not enough if change is not implemented.
Communicating this change efficiently paves the way for greater transparency. Having set priorities and goals for change which are measured out and planned go a long way to developing confidence in management structures and allowing everyone to feel included in the project trajectory and outcomes.
Creating and embedding diversity and inclusion practices take time; there’s no silver bullet. Organisations must consider different needs, taking into account their unique demographics in order to drive inclusion strategies that work for all. However, a few simple universal processes can help define these strategies and ensure that those pushing to achieve greater diversity, also have a framework for making this diverse workforce