Diversity Corner

Creating A Working Environment That's Diverse

What is Workplace Diversity?

Workplace diversity means creating a working environment where:

  • Each person feels respected and valued, and can contribute to their fullest potential to help achieve business objectives
  • Fair, equitable and transparent recruitment and retention, performance management, development and succession and work-life balance policies and practices operate
  • People's differences are recognized, accepted and valued and they contribute to the success of the business and the motivation of the people within it;
  • The only acceptable form of discrimination is on the basis of ability to contribute to the business
  • Opportunities are available to staff in their jobs and in their personal development.
  • Management recognises and accepts the differing needs and contributions during an individual's career lifecycle from joining through working to leaving.
  • Employees at all levels make judgements which are free from unfair bias, prejudice and stereotyping
  • There is diverse representation in all teams and at all levels

Implementing Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

Implementing Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity is a vast area and one which requires consistent and persistent pursuit if an organization and the people in it are to get full value and benefit.

There are a number of things organisations - whatever their size - may wish to consider when introducing workplace diversity and inclusion.

Getting the basics right
A review of your HR infrastructure (recruitment, promotion, performance management, training and development, recognition and reward) is critical if you are to align your organization and its people behind your diversity aspirations

Clear objectives and Clear Accountability
You need to be clear about where you are aiming, and why, and this needs to be effectively and frequently communicated and used to benchmark progress. Accountability needs to also be clear - both in terms of leading the change - but also sustaining and supporting the new culture and values.

Diversity as part of the organisation's mission
There is much evidence to support that reference to diversity in your organisation's mission statement can be a very powerful reinforcement strategy

Building diversity into business goals
At the organisation level it is important to built diversity into the business goals.

Corporate Branding
Frequently overlooked is the need to ensure that all your corporate branding aligns to your diversity goals. Whilst it may feel a bit artificial you need to ensure a broad representation in any pictures of people you use in both internal and external publicity. Your language needs to be inclusive and congruent with your stated commitment to diversity. Your commitment to diversity should be clear to your clients, customers and the public as well as your employees and contractors.

Recognition and rewarding diversity
The statement that you get what you reward applies equally to this area. Your recognition and reward processes need to give appropriate focus to reinforcing positive behaviour in this area. This needs to include both the formal and informal processes.

Inclusion of diversity-related goals in managers' performance assessments
A company wide requirement to have a diversity-related goal in all managers' objectives, when positioned correctly, can have a very positive impact. Remember to pull on the full meaning of diversity - so people who work in different departments as well as people representing different minority groups

Explicit reference in company values
Ensuring an explicit reference to Diversity and inclusion in your company values is critical. You may know that you mean this when you talk about a broad concept such as ‘teamwork' but not everyone will. Examples would be "we are a globally diverse company"; "harnessing the strength of our diverse workforce"

Manager diversity training
Training is clearly an important component (albeit not the only one) and care should be taken to cover legal obligations as well as effective leadership styles and strategies

Employee attitude surveys
Measuring progress towards your diversity and inclusion vision is critical. Regular employee questionnaires/attitude surveys are a useful way to keep track of progress including successes and areas that need a bit more attention.

Awareness training
Discussion based awareness training which builds understanding and networks is an excellent supporting activity which helps the introduction of new approaches and policies as well as reinforcing new ways of thinking and working

Setting up a mentoring programme, or utilising existing programmes, is a very useful way of supporting the development of people with the potential to progress to senior positions within your organisation

Diversity Circles
Another way of creating a supportive environment and raising the general awareness of diversity is through the creation of ‘diversity circles' which are facilitated discussion groups of a cross section of employees.

Clear and effective communication is vital. Communication works best when it is not just about giving information but encouraging discussion. Employees must understand both the what and the why: the issues, the organisation vision and benefits, and, what they can do themselves.

Effectively managing diversity is is an ongoing process which needs be monitored, reviewed and evaluated to both measure and assure progress. Continuous evaluation ensures that feedback can be acted upon in a timely manner to ensure maximum benefit. Information gathered during the process should also be shared across the organisation, both to highlight success and the areas where there is still more to be done. You need to adopt an open and transparent approach to the data if you wish to reinforce the culture you are striving to establish.

Diversity Audits
A first step when managing diversity is to look at where your organisation is currently in terms of its culture, systems and processes and procedures. This usually means conducting a diversity audit, but can also mean collecting data from sources such as employee opinion surveys and exit interview data. By knowing the starting point for a strategy, you can measure and benchmark the process later. Conducting an initial diversity audit also helps to spread ownership of the managing diversity strategy to all your employees.

Diversity Champions
Appointing people as Diversity champions can both support the implementation of change and also sustain it. The people you select should also be willing to role model diversity through their own behaviour by being inclusive and willing to challenge inappropriate behaviour at work.

Some Benefits of Managing Diversity

Managing Diversity effectively can lead to increased business competitiveness and will have a positive impact on your business in terms of both cost reduction and increased productivity and opportunities.

Cost Reduction

  • Increase employee retention; savings both the direct costs of hiring but also time and the productivity loss
  • Broaden your options in terms of suppliers, leading to procurement savings
  • Keep within the spirit and the letter of the law, thus reducing grievances and litigation

Increased productivity and opportunities

  • Access to a larger talent pool; ability to attract and recruit candidates who would otherwise not be considered or who would not consider you
  • Sensitive and inclusive leadership of individuals increases motivation, productivity, alignment and performance
  • Achieve higher team performance; multidisciplinary, multicultural diverse teams perform better
  • Access to a wider pool of customers and suppliers
  • Improved employer brand
  • Increased creativity and innovation
  • Competitive advantage over those who have not embraced Workplace Diversity

Useful Links

Cabinet Office Diversity Website
Cabinet Office Diversity Website with information on all aspects of the diversity agenda.

Equal Opportunities Commission
Commission focused on equal opportunities. Gender statistics for the UK workplace as well as information on legislation, the Equal Pay Task Force and EOC publications.

Commission For Racial Equality
Commission set up under the Race Relations Act 1976 to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality.

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Set up to advance equality, promote equality of opportunity, encourage good relations and challenge discrimination through promotion, advice and enforcement.

Disability Rights Commission
An independent body, established by Act of Parliament to eliminate discrimination against disabled people and promote equality of opportunity.

The Employers' Forum on Disability
Employers' organisation focused on the issue of disability in the workplace. It works closely with government and other stakeholders, sharing best practice to make it easier to employ disabled people and serve disabled customers.

Disability Now
Website and fortnightly disability related newspaper

Youreable has integrated disability related information, products and services into a community-based website.

Government disability information
Directgov brings together the widest range of public service information and services online.

Home Office Race Relations
Home Office web site for race relations

Race for Opportunity
Race for Opportunity (RfO) is a growing network of private and public sector organisations working across the UK to promote the business case for race and diversity. Race for Opportunity challenges organisations to underpin strategies with concrete actions, guaranteeing a positive impact on business performance.

Multicultural Matters
Multicultural Matters publications are published by Building Bridges, an independent single focus company established in 1998. They provide background information for all those who wish to raise awareness and understanding of the cultural differences within the diverse communities living in the UK.

Employer's Forum on Age
EFA is an independent network of leading employers who recognise the value of an age diverse workforce. In addition to supporting employers, the EFA influences Government, business and trade unions, campaigning for real practical change.

Age Positive
The Age Positive campaign promotes the benefits of employing a mixed-age workforce that includes older and younger people.

Stonewall works with a whole range of agencies to address the needs of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the wider community. Stonewall is renowned for its campaigning and lobbying.

Equality Direct
Telephone advice service and website providing advice on equality legislation and good practice.

Workplace Bullying
A website dedicated to identifying, understanding and dealing with workplace bullying.

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