Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Inclusion and diversity….going beyond issues of equality and fairness, what importance does it bring to the workplace?

  •      Diversity is essential to businesses, with benefits ranging from innovative concepts through to improved performance.
  •      The International Labour Organization reports that currently one in four employees feel underappreciated in their workplace. *
  •       There is not a single ‘skill fix’ to improve diversity and inclusion within a company, instead different strategies must be implemented throughout the levels of your company to generate greater well-being and productivity.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity in any company relates to a business that purposely ensures their employees are made up of a range of different attributes which could range from gender, religion, education, age, and further characteristics. Furthermore, inclusion refers to the extent which those employees feel appreciated and part of the team, (feeling utilised for their advantageous past experiences and ability).

How has Covid-19 showcased diversity and inclusion issues?

Recent reports have demonstrated that employees have growingly noticed inequalities within their company, as evidenced by the ‘Great US Resignation’ during the pandemic. It has become apparent, as businesses globally work on recovery strategies, that an employee-focused approach leads to improved results. With the recruitment industry turning to a candidate market post-pandemic, employees have emplaced a higher importance with their employers to demonstrate improved diversity.

Strategies to improve diversity and inclusion within the workplace…

Four key methods include:

  1.       Demonstrating an importance for diversity and inclusion within an organisation through key operations and policies implemented within the company culture and core business strategies.
  2.       Open opportunities for all, allowing greater possibilities for minority groups to receive top-level roles.
  3.       Making sure that employees across all levels are made accountable, ensuring that they act as role models to create improved team cohesion.
  4.       Constantly reviewing diversity and inclusion policies to align with employee needs and requirements.

The future – adjusting diversity and inclusion strategies for a hybrid working approach

By not providing an inclusive working space, regardless of whether diversity has been taken into consideration, it is likely that a company will encounter hardship with enhancing their long-term goals and performance. With the pandemic leading to what has become a ‘hybrid working norm’, it has caused further issues with maintaining a diverse and still inclusive culture.

Whilst working remotely, it is important to consider:

  1.       Work–life balance

Covid-19 has presented an opportunity for employees to rethink the trade-offs between work and personal life aspirations and importance. This has led to a rise in resignations with employees moving to organisations which demonstrate flexibility and meaningful work.

For organizations this has helped to retain and attract employees, where their policies reflect flexibility i.e., through flexi hours, work-from-home and semipermanent flexi location opportunities. Managers that promote and execute various work-life balance opportunities are likely to receive better employee working attitudes and motivation, especially welcomed by new staff.

  1.       Team bonding

It is just as important to take into consideration that despite flexibility being seen as a benefit, it can also lead to isolation. This is particularly apparent within organisations where team cohesion is weak. To improve team bonding within the workplace, employees should have opportunities to form relationships with others i.e., through team events.

Additionally, efficient conflict management training should be provided to employees and allow effective integration for new staff i.e., through focused team meetings. Keeping team spirt and bonds close regardless of physical distance is vital to build trust and achieve collaboration.

  1.       Mutual understanding

With a mix of working from home and at the office, in-person interactions have reduced and communication has become increasingly reliant on written form. As a result, employees can feel disconnected to their team, and it presents a greater opportunity for miscommunication.

To reduce negative implications, an organisational culture should encourage the importance of learning about co-workers and adopt a growth mindset, this can be achieved through recognising and celebrating employee contributions as well as presenting opportunities for two-way feedback.

Inclusion and diversity….going beyond issues of equality and fairness, what importance does it bring to the workplace?

Businesses that have embraced diversity and inclusion have benefited from a higher retention levels of staff. As employers and employees adjust to the changes in working style brought on by Covid-19, it is important that as policies adapt i.e., to allow for hybrid working flexibility, the importance of diversity and inclusion is equally reflected. Whilst there are many challenges, a company that is able to effectively model a diverse and inclusive environment will increase their odds of improvements within areas including employee performance, cohesion and engagement, health and wellbeing as well as retention.

By Hannah O’Callaghan

Senior Recruitment Consultant, ZBusiness Limited

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