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How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

April 16, 2024

They say that variety is the spice of life, and this is certainly true in the workplace. For far too long, a lack of diversity has been holding companies back from their true potential. 

A scarcity mindset leads some people to believe that opportunities are finite and therefore need to be protected. Historically, this has led many companies to promote certain individuals who then go on to protect the status quo – after all, more diversity means more competition for the top spots.

This has led to increasingly poor hiring practices that originate from a fearful position. However, if companies are able to get past these fears and concerns, they will often find that more diversity and inclusion is actually a positive thing for business.

In this guide, we’re looking at ways you can improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace to help your organisation reap the widespread benefits.

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace CMD Recruitment

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion are two parts of a three part approach to better hiring practices within organisations. This is a foundation level policy that underpins what organisations are about and what they value. It’s commonly referred to as diversity, equity and inclusion policy, or DEI policy for short.

The diversity section of this refers to the makeup of your company. A diverse hiring practice will ensure you have people representing lots of different groups in your company, and this will help you to make decisions that will better serve your customers. Examples of diversity include age, gender, ethnic background, neurodiversity and physical ability. 

Inclusion is about making sure that your diverse workforce feels that their contribution is valued and important. This can help to increase engagement and make everyone feel more valued in the workplace.

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace CMD Recruitment

Why is diversity and inclusion important?

A lot of companies still treat diversity and inclusion as buzzwords or boxes they need to tick before they continue with the same old. However, this means they could be missing out on key opportunities for growth and increased productivity.

A diverse and inclusive workforce will bring in new perspectives and ways of working that you might not have tried before. And this can deliver increased productivity, improved morale and better staff retention.

If you fail to prioritise these hiring policies, you run the risk of losing your competitive edge. And once word spreads that your workplace is neither diverse nor inclusive, you could find it harder to hire the best talent.

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace CMD Recruitment

How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Now that we understand the value of diversity and inclusion, let’s look at some of the ways employers can implement these policies in their workplace.

Make changes from the ground up

If you have a diversity problem in your organisation, you run the risk of tokenism if you try to fix this with a hiring spree. You need to tear up the current hiring policy and start afresh. 

Policy changes need to be hard-wired into your company mission statement so that they can spread throughout everything you do. Stop trying to spot fix the problem or stick a plaster on a more widespread issue and tackle this at the heart of the problem.

Get everyone involved

A lot of companies make the mistake of appointing a diversity officer and then making them the only person in the company who knows or cares about the issue. 

This is a company-wide change, and so the solution needs to be company-wide. Everyone needs to understand and appreciate the importance of diversity of inclusion in the workplace for any policy to be successful.

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace CMD Recruitment

Be prepared to be wrong

Often the first hurdle organisations need to overcome is accepting that there is something wrong with the way they currently work. Being wrong is only a bad thing if you are also unwilling to accept that you need to change. 

Acknowledging your shortfalls is an incredibly empowering position to be in, as it puts you in a position to make considerable changes to the way things are.

Have a plan to deal with resistance

Every company attempting to upset the status quo can expect to face resistance from workers. If you are met with fierce resistance to diversity and inclusion from your employees, you need to first ask why they feel this way. 

Do they stand to miss out if others are treated equitably? Could it be that they have been promoted unfairly and they see diversity as a threat to their position? Ask serious questions about why these individuals might be resistant to these changes, and then ask if these attitudes still have a place within your organisation.

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace CMD Recruitment

Avoid ticking boxes

Diversity and inclusion is not something that you can achieve and then tick the box and never think about it again. It’s a journey, not a destination. All of us have a lot of work to do to overcome unconscious biases that we carry with us, so it should be seen as a continual journey of learning and discovery. 

By getting all of this out in the open, you can learn from one another. You can also learn from those who stand to gain so much more when they feel included and valued in the workplace. But you’ll never enjoy these widespread benefits if you treat diversity as a tick box exercise. 

Closing thoughts

The first step in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to identify areas where you might be falling short. Ask for feedback within your organisation and be prepared to confront some uncomfortable truths.

Once you know where you are falling short, you can then implement changes that will encourage better diversity in your hiring policy and in your promotion policy. From here, you’ll be in a much better position to encourage better inclusion and to reap the benefits of a diverse and engaged workforce.

When you face resistance along the way, it’s vital to question the origin of this resistance and if this has any place within your organisation. 

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