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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in The Workplace

All too often we see diversity, equity and inclusion efforts which concentrate solely on hiring practices. While recruiting a diverse team is important, there’s so much more to DE&I than the recruitment piece. Let’s take a holistic look at what diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace should look like.

Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

Diversity, equity and inclusion needs to really take root in four main areas in order for you to be able to fully embrace and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive but making sure you’ve got these key areas covered will help you make your workplace as diverse, equitable and inclusive as possible!


1. Policies


Sometimes people think policies are the be all and end all of DE&I. Always remember that policies are not enough in their own right, and should be used in conjunction with the other aspects in this post. It’s also important that policies are actually being adopted and lived in practice. Listening to your people will help you to understand this. It’s also important to set clear goals and measure how you’re performing.


That said, policies such as flexible working, hybrid working, absence, parental leave and so on, will all have a huge impact on whether people with diverse needs will be able to accept jobs within your organisation. And whether they’ll stay!


Another thing to consider when it comes to your policies is how accessible they are - ensuring that your whole team is able to easily find and access your policies is key. Make sure they’re written in clear, concise language and are available in all languages in which your team operates. You might also need to consider whether they’re accessible to people with different learning or neurodevelopmental needs - for example it may be helpful for your HR team or a trusted manager to go through relevant policies one on one with specific individuals. 


An important way to help your team make the most of your policies is through manager empowerment. Your managers are likely to know their teams and the individuals on them best. This means that it’s important you help your managers fully understand all your policies. This will help them to support their team by sign-posting relevant information and support. 


Finally, it’s not possible to create policies which cater to every single need and requirement for every individual and their circumstances. Not only this, but circumstances and needs might change during an individual’s time with you. Because of this, we strongly recommend creating flexible policies which allow for common sense application by managers. 


2. Spaces 


The physical and virtual spaces in which your company exists are super important when it comes to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of your workplace. Thinking about the diverse needs of your team and helping to support these within your workplace will help your whole team feel safe and productive. 


Accessibility ramps and disabled toilets are a legal requirement in the UK. But this is the bare minimum - think about whether people with mobility needs will be able to access everything. Can they make themselves a drink, access a fridge to store their lunch and enter meeting rooms easily? This is important for current employees, but make sure you ask those who are attending interviews about their needs for your space too. 


Of course, making spaces accessible isn’t all about mobility or physical needs. Think also about whether you have a safe space where new mothers can express milk or feed their baby, where people of faith can pray, or where people with sensory processing needs can find peace and quiet. These are just common examples - you’ll need to listen to your people to make sure you can support their individual needs. 


Virtual spaces are also important when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, but all too often are forgotten. Thinking about ensuring that virtual meetings have subtitles enabled, taking care to keep key meetings to core hours and providing recordings, and including pronouns on signatures and name badges are all simple ways to make your virtual spaces safe and accessible for everyone. 


3. Processes 


It is often in processes that implicit bias crops up. Unfortunately, everyone has implicit biases. Neuroscience shows us that we’re hardwired to quickly assess people and put them “in” and “out” groups. However, just because implicit bias is natural and unavoidable, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to eradicate its impact on processes in the workplace. 


Many of our key processes within the HR space are important to consider when thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. In particular, performance reviews and discipline processes are areas which should get particular scrutiny. Ensuring there are tools in place to mitigate the effects of any implicit bias. 


Recruitment is a key process to consider when thinking about DE&I. This starts from when you create your job listing. Check your advert for gendered or discriminatory language, and also think about where the job is listed to attract candidates with a diverse range of backgrounds. Think about the steps in your process and whether they’re accessible to everyone. We use a blind recruitment process, removing names, addresses and ages from CVs so candidates are reviewed without demographic data. This ensures you only focus on skills and experience. Further along the process it’s also important to ask about accommodations during the interview process.


Thinking about onboarding processes can also help with the inclusion portion of DE&I. By making your onboarding processes accessible and inclusive will help everyone feel fully welcomed and engaged in your processes, and sets the scene for them to bring their authentic selves to work. 


4. Technology & Tools


Legally we have to make reasonable adjustments to technologies and tools to make them accessible to everyone. Again, this is the bare minimum. Ensuring that everyone can not only use the technology and tools we have available but can also do this without feeling like they’re being excluded or othered is very important when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. 


As a technology company we feel very strongly about everyone being able to use tech. In fact, it’s part of our “Freedom to be Human” vision. This means not only thinking about physical accessibility when it comes to our product, but also inclusion of other identities. For example, our Equality of Voice product includes a range of gender options to choose from. These kinds of considerations are essential to keep in mind when choosing any technology platform that your team will access. 


One thing to bear in mind when it comes to technology is that it’s not necessarily free from bias. Technology is built by people and people are biased. If you’re using AI tools in any of your processes, and particularly hiring where it’s most prevalent at the moment, it’s important to put checks and balances in place. 


Lastly, while we don’t think that technology is the solution to DE&I, it can be a tool you use to support your efforts. Always-on listening and DE&I surveying tools can help you to understand your team and their wants and needs. Furthermore, tools like apps, personal fitness devices and so on, can be used in a lot of places to support your team regardless of their identity. However, they shouldn’t be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution and instead be used as one of many options you have at your disposal. 


In Conclusion…


If you’re getting started with diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, it can feel overwhelming. However, we encourage you to see it as a journey rather than a destination - there is always more you can be doing, and as your team changes and your organisation develops you’ll find your people have different needs and requirements. 


The best place to get started with any DE&I programme is by talking to your people. Not only will this give you a good baseline to benchmark your progress against, you can also ensure you’re putting your team and their needs at the centre of your efforts. Why not speak to one of our experts about how we can help you?

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Elle Whitehead-Smith

"Elle is happiest when given plenty of puddings, popular novels and, particularly, perfect grammar."

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