Did you know that companies with the least diversity are 29% less likely to be profitable?
And that the gap between men and women’s wages is still so large that women effectively stop earning on November 10th – over 7 weeks less pay per year than men? (And this date hasn’t changed for the past two years – reflecting the gap is not closing).
Or that black male graduates earn on average 17% less than white male graduates?
It’s statistics like this which tell us why inclusion is so important in the workplace. Simply put, regardless of anything, we are all humans doing our best in the world and at work. So with Global Entrepreneurial Week taking place between 15th – 22nd November with its themes of women, youth and inclusion, we wanted to take a moment to ask – how diverse is your workforce?
What does Diversity mean?
The Equity Act 2010, created to ‘protect people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation in the workplace and wider society’ identifies nine ‘protected characteristics’:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Whilst there are no specific quotas attached to these characteristics and how they should be reflected in the workplace, a company or individual not adhering to the Act will find themselves very likely to be under investigation for acting illegally should a complaint be made.
Why diversity is important
Whilst it seems obvious that everyone should be treated fairly and equally, there are many further reasons why diversity is desirable. For example, a diverse and inclusive company will be more appealing to both employees and clients: clients with BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) employees are more likely to do business with a similar workforce. Additionally, potential employees will be more attracted to both working and staying within the company.
It’s also important to work with suppliers and others you outsource work to who are inclusive – spending your money where you wish to support diversity. Conversely, people will choose to work with you if you demonstrate your commitment to being inclusive.
Having a diverse workforce fosters mutual respect among employees – whether teams are made up of differing age groups/gender/ability – working together helps solidify similarities rather than differences.
Finally, the people you work with day to day should be reflective of the inclusive, diverse society we live within (spare a minute to watch the video below to see how diverse the UK is). The more ‘normalised’ different people, cultures and views are, the less harassment and discrimination will be.
How to Make your Workplace More Diverse
- Start with the hiring process – be sure not to make any assumptions based on a CV. Whilst it’s not necessary to include date of birth/nationality/sex or a photo, be aware this isn’t true for all countries so a potential employee may include this information as a matter of course. Be sure not to make any assumptions based on this.
- Build a workforce which reflects the community and industry you work within by engaging with community organisations and current employees who can refer people to you.
- Make it clear that inappropriate behaviour, treatment and comments will not be tolerated. Put in place clear steps for what to do and who to talk to should anyone feel discriminated against.
- Make sure policies such as parental pay and leave are clear and adhered to. Consider all requests on an individual basis – whether that’s providing flexible working for parents or approving leave for religious holidays.
- Phase out the regular annual appraisal and replace it with more regular, informal catch-ups so that any issues can be spoken about at the time of occurring. Make sure people know who to approach and can do so without fear of judgement.
- Finally, provide training in how to face challenges in the workplace (for example, sexual discrimination).