“Diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is no longer a peripheral issue for organisations – it is fast gaining acceptance in boardrooms across the UK as an issue which must be taken seriously. Taking steps to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace is in the interest of all organisations, whether they have 10 employees or 10,000.
Diversity and inclusion has long been on the agenda of boardrooms up and down the country. It's not a new thing but it was typically the item on the agenda that tended to slip into the 'low priority' bracket. However, over recent years it has gained significant traction, moving beyond the boundaries of a nebulous idea with 'aspirational outcomes' to something that can help businesses deliver better results.
There has been a raft of research telling us that diverse workplaces are more innovative, more creative and that inclusive work environments lead to higher levels of productivity and better performance. When we step back from all the detailed research, it's not rocket science - happier people do better quality work and more of it. They're also less likely to take sick leave, suffer from stress or want to leave! All good things of course but what is really interesting (and often very complex) is how we reach that special 'happy people' point.
That's where diversity and inclusion really come into play. Diversity is essentially a state - a group of people who are different to one another- who think differently, who approach work differently, who interact differently etc. There are countless reasons why we are all different- the important point is that we just are! Having a diverse (different) group of people in the workplace is a good thing - we can solve problems more quickly and creatively if we look at it from several different angles rather than just one. But it will only truly work if the workplace is also inclusive - we need to embrace and value that difference. Inclusion is therefore about making people feel comfortable, about allowing everyone to be themselves, allowing everyone's voice (their perspective!) to be heard. It's also about feeling valued and listened to. So without a diverse and inclusive workplace, it's almost impossible to reach the full potential of the 'happy people' utopia.
There is no single right answer to achieve this - a lot depends on the amazing group of people you employ, but the British Standards Institute (BSI) has recently published helpful guidance for businesses of all sizes and sectors with best practice tips to help employers embrace diversity and foster an inclusive environment (BS 76005). Reviewing current practice and being open-minded to new approaches is always recommended when considering diversity and inclusion strategy, so it's worth taking a look at the new guidance. Oh and don't forget, here at byrne·dean we also run great training programmes to help employers with diversity and inclusion so get in touch if you'd like to know more!