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The business case for a robust diversity and inclusion strategy in your organisation

05/08/20

The past few months – and indeed, years – have demonstrated just how important diversity and inclusion are in modern society. Through the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, a light has been shone on the inequality and injustice that persists, not just in our day to day lives, but also in the workplace.

We can no longer ignore how important diversity and inclusion are to businesses, nor can we expect things to get better without actively working to improve conditions and outcomes for everyone. And while promoting diversity and inclusion is absolutely the right thing to do for employees, there are also business benefits to doing so. 

What is diversity and inclusion? 

Diversity and inclusion aren’t just a priority for HR departments – it should be a key business strategy for all organisations. Workplace diversity can be defined as the understanding, acceptance and promotion of differences between people. This includes those of different genders, races, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities and religions, as well as people who have different educational, socioeconomic and experiential backgrounds.

Meanwhile, inclusion is about creating a supportive and respectful work environment that values collaboration and participation of all employees, helping everyone to feel included. Together, diversity and inclusion make companies more welcoming, accessible and harmonious for everyone, not to mention more profitable and competitive.  

Why is diversity and inclusion important? 

First and foremost, diversity and inclusion are essential to make workplaces better for everyone. Purely from a compassionate perspective, it’s the right thing for employers to create environments where people feel comfortable to be themselves and can succeed without limitation. Commercially, diversity and inclusion have a significant number of benefits.

Firstly, a strong focus on D&I can significantly widen the candidate talent pool, giving you access to more candidates who may be excluded by non-diverse hiring strategies. With 70% of job seekers looking for a company’s commitment to diversity when applying for new roles, it’s clear that you may be missing out on top talent if you neglect to address D&I in your organisation. 

On top of that, diverse organisations have better business results, higher employee satisfaction and are more innovative, according to Business in the Community. McKinsey research shows that executive teams in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those companies who perform poorly in terms of executive-level gender diversity. This figure jumps to 36% when analysing teams with ethnic diversity. Diverse teams have also been proven to be more innovative, solve problems faster and have more engaged employees. 

Small steps to move the dial on D&I in your organisation 

The current emphasis on working from home presents a key opportunity for employers to rethink their D&I hiring strategies, with  current conditions potentially opening up more flexible, part-time opportunities for those who may not have otherwise been able to commit to a 9-5 office job. To welcome more working parents and caregivers, disabled people and those with neurodiversity requirements, consider whether vacancies could be flexible, remote working or on part-time hours. Now is the perfect time to rethink your workspace and how it can be made more accessible to more people. 

A dedicated diversity and inclusion policy, taskforce or officer can help to highlight its importance within your business. You could perform a D&I audit, examining the levels of diversity that exist within the company and specifically at the executive level, and set goals to achieve a more balanced, inclusive environment within a certain time period. Have open conversations with your team members about D&I and ask them what would make them – and new team members – feel more welcomed. It’s also important to acknowledge the diversity that already exists in your company, such as by celebrating different cultural and religious events, greeting bilingual employees in their mother tongue or inviting families into work. 

Finally, while diversity and inclusion should be championed at the very highest levels of your business, it’s crucial that every single team member feels safe to contribute to these discussions and voice their opinions and stories. Prepare to tackle some difficult topics and be questioned. While subjects like the gender pay gap, lack of executive-level diversity and opportunities for progression can feel difficult to address, they are important conversations that need to be had in the process of making real change. 

Marks Sattin can help to diversify your talent pool. 

By partnering with a specialist recruitment agency which has a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, you’ll benefit from having access to more candidates and guidance on how to actively recruit from diverse talent pools. At Marks Sattin, we can help you identify, attract and retain exceptional people across financial services, technology, change management and more. Contact us here to have a chat about how we can work together. 
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