Diversity and Inclusion- It’s not just about HR
As part of growing the strategic and practical contribution to their businesses, many HR leaders have appointed people responsible for diversity and inclusion in their organisations.
The incidence of creating such roles is growing and there is no doubt that the importance of diversity and inclusion is firmly on the HR agenda in most progressive businesses. In doing so, it’s important to remember that diversity and inclusion are two separate concepts with connected but different goals.
Diversity is aimed at recognising and taking account of the diverse needs of individuals from different social, economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, genders, disabilities, sexual orientations, religions and more. All these factors can provide relative measures of performance, and many businesses now report on these as part of their annual reporting cycle.
The business case for diversity has been around for decades, but the practice of Diversity Management only really began to take effect in the 1980s particularly in the USA with processes like affirmative action gaining momentum. The work of researchers such as Kelly and Dobson (1998) made the point that diversity wasn’t just the right thing to do, it was good for business.
Inclusion is the process of creating an environment in which individuals or members of groups feel welcomed, heard, respected, supported, valued and able to reach their full potential, whatever their background or identity or whatever disabilities they have.
Gallup undertook research in 2018 and stated that ‘’recognising that diversity and inclusion are very different things is the first step in the journey toward creating a uniquely diverse and inclusive culture.”
In our experience, the necessity of managing diversity and inclusion well goes far beyond the remit of human resource management. A number of concrete steps are needed for diversity and inclusion to become an embedded part of corporate culture, which HR can lead on and drive, but should share ownership with business leaders.
Some of the steps we recommend that clients take are:
- Demonstrate and communicate that senior management is responsible for Diversity and Inclusion, and for fair and equal employment
- Develop and publish policies which have input from people at all levels in the organisation to establish clear procedures on non-discrimination and equal opportunities
- Have outstanding recruitment and on-boarding processes which provide opportunities for all
- Create effective ,accessible and innovative training programmes at all levels
- Support ongoing sensitisation and unconscious bias campaigns to combat stereotypes.
- Hire and develop leaders who promote a diverse culture
- Set measurable goals and specific time frames to achieve aims.
- Speedily address complaints, manage appeals, and provide support to employees in cases where discrimination is found.
- Listen to your people ,establish internal groups and forums to get real and valid feedback and celebrate differences.
Clearly, there is a lot more to do besides this, but having a well-structured, planned and measurable diversity and inclusion programme is fundamental to achieving success.
Within Work Horizons, we are fortunate to have outstanding and respected consultants who have world class diversity and inclusion experience. Recent success in this area includes working with a client on reviewing, refreshing, and enhancing their established approach to diversity and inclusion. A really positive feature of this work was that we were able to bring people of all levels together to share their thoughts and experiences through facilitated workshops. This was a fitting example of how to get diversity and inclusion more fully embedded in the organisation culture and to make this happen quickly.
Work Horizons would be pleased to support your diversity and inclusion efforts with our experienced and credible team.