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Last updated: 02.03.22

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: how it's changed and what organisations can do to make their workplaces more inclusive

How ED&I has changed and why

In the workplace, equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) has become more than compliance with the law. Though the law is still very much a big player in organisations’ understanding of ED&I, the expectation of what organisations must do has changed.

Due to movements like Black Lives Matter, and horrific events such as the murder of Sarah Everard, not to mention the pandemic, ED&I and how it looks in different societal areas has been at the forefront of society’s minds the last couple of years.

Inspired by this, many businesses delved into learning more about the diversity of the thoughts and experiences that exist in communities, societies and, ultimately, their businesses. And there is now an expectation that everyone else follows suit.

Organisations and businesses are recognising the role they play in creating inclusive, safe and fair workplaces, and understanding that empowering diverse talent is a big step to building a successful organisation.

The research is out there that supports this, highlighting many gains and reasons for organisations to focus on ED&I – financial, reputations and employee retention to name a few.

To support organisations’ new ED&I journey, training has been updated and repurposed to reflect these new needs. There is a shift away from it being solely about the business’s objectives as training programmes now bring colleagues’ perspectives into it too. They now promote businesses to take real action in the workplace to make sure it is a fair, safe and diverse environment.

You can see that in our training offering where we made a conscious decision to bring in a practical approach in addition to the legal side. We designed practical scenarios and case studies to showcase not just what ED&I policies are, but how to promote them in the workplace and ensure workforces not only understand them, but engage with them and they illustrate what action could look like too.

Steps organisations can take toward ED&I

Equality, diversity and inclusion is really about keeping your staff at the heart of the business. It’s about making sure you take everyone’s individual lives, needs and requirements into consideration from new joiners to staff who have been there for numerous years. It even needs to be apparent to potential employees and candidates.

Let’s look at the few areas in more detail.

Recruitment

Recruitment is often the first interaction with the company, so it’s important to ensure you demonstrate your ED&I values. Luckily, there are many things that can be done to make the recruitment process more inclusive, equal to all and free from discrimination. Here are a few ideas:

  • Aim to get a range of candidates by reaching out to a variety of publications that have different readerships and locations.
  • Make necessary adjustments, such as being flexible with the location. Digital technology, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, has made this a lot easier.
  • Have a minimum of two interviewers on the panel in the interview to reduce discrimination and favouritism, and have at least two interviews per candidate.
  • Make CVs anonymous and only provide names when CVs are selected.
  • Produce a guide on what and what not to say to ensure candidates receive equal treatment.
  • To help reduce nervousness, send interview questions and LinkedIn links to panel to the candidate ahead of the interview. 

Onboarding

With remote working on the rise, it is important that new staff are made to feel included and part of the team, and recognise that you want to understand their personal circumstances and offer adjustments where necessary.

Fiona Robinson, our HR Manager, has worked hard to make sure the onboarding process hasn’t lost any of its warm and friendly welcome now we’ve moved to a hybrid working approach. She explains what she’s done.

‘It’s all about making the person feel included and part of the business from the get-go. We know how hard that can be now we work from home, so we do everything we can to ensure it happens. We send out welcome packs and timetables for the first weeks, so they know what to expect. If they want, they can also meet some of their team digitally before they start to help ease them into the role.

Before they start, they are invited into the office to collect their kit – laptops and so on – and meet the HR team in person. I think it’s important, especially now, that you strive to get a real sense of new staff and make that initial connection in person. It’s beneficial to all involved! We tailor the induction to each role. We set up meetings with relevant people, making sure they happen in the first few weeks. And then we continue to keep in regular contact, especially in the first month or so, giving them every chance to raise any questions and to make sure, most of all, that they’ve settled in.’

Flexible working policy

This is a key part of ensuring you’re meeting ED&I considerations. The pandemic has shown that remote working is a lot more productive and applicable to businesses than they may have thought, and it’s clear that it helps meet a work/life balance that many people need in this busy, chaotic world. And it’s become clear that if people don’t see flexible working as an option, then they’ll look elsewhere. So, it’s advised that if your business can adopt a flexible working policy that they do.

What does it offer a business? It attracts talent, and helps reduce stress and burnout by encouraging a stronger work/life balance. It increases productivity – especially jobs which benefit from a quieter environment – and job satisfaction, and in turn employee retention.

What more can you do?

You may have implemented our suggestions already and are wondering what to do next. How to go further to ensure the equality, diversity and inclusion are integral to your business or the ways in which you manage your team.

Bailey & French, business consultants who work to humanise the workplace and wrote a recent guest blog for us, suggests that it’s time to look to managers’ and leaders’ own development and find areas that could be built on, and stress the importance of having open conversations in leading the way to demonstrating ED&I values.

Develop yourself

They suggest you look at your strengths in portraying your authentic self, at creating an inclusive environment and promoting connection. You can do this by asking yourself questions and discovering which areas you may want to build on:

  • Authenticity – do you know what your strengths are, and whether you can use them? How do you rate your authenticity? Do you often strive to improve your own self-awareness?
  • Inclusivity – do you know ways of creating inclusivity? Would others rate you as an inclusive manager or leader? How much do you regularly focus on others?
  • Connection – do you know much about psychological safety? How are your skills in encouraging confidence in others?

Once you’ve noted the areas that you want to work on, have a look to see if there are training courses that fit those needs. We have a Leadership and Management training package that covers topics such as communication, the role of the manager and managing change, which could be a good place to start. Or look into tools you can use to help develop yourself and your team, such as the ones Bailey and French’s online shop.

Have open conversations

Holding open conversations are a great way to really get to know people, help celebrate their diversity and make them feel included. But we know It’s not always easy to know where to start with these things, so here are some tips Bailey & French have recommend:

  • Seek and create opportunities for your team to raise potentially challenging topics and questions (for example, during check-in meetings)
  • Spot opportunities for you to reinforce and encourage discussions about people’s challenges in a group or 121 scenario. Phrases such as “go on, tell me more. Your challenge is important and I’m curious to hear more” are good ways to promote open discussion.
  • Celebrate people in your team who aren’t afraid to stand up and challenge ideas and avoid at all costs shutting down any ideas or challenges. To be clear, this is not about giving people permission to run with any idea, but it’s about adapting our behaviour to seek a deeper understanding of another person’s point of view.
  • When people come to you with a challenge or unique perspective, practice asking 3-5 questions before responding. It’s easy as a leader to feel like you have or should have all the answers, but when you ask questions, you empower the team and encourage open dialogue.
  • Build in specific, semi-structured time for teams to practice having constructive, open, yet potentially challenging, conversations.

We have covered a lot in this article! If you want to talk to our Learning Technology Consultants about any of these topics and discover how we can help you build your ED&I programmes, give us a shout.

 

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