Diversity and Inclusion (D & I) is becoming more important and popular and therefore there are a bunch of organizations facing the challenge, how to become D & I Workplace. In addition of being popular topic D & I also has other advantages, for instance, a survey conducted in conjunction with the Victorian Equal Opportunity, Human Rights Commission, and Deloitte, revealed that diverse workplaces create happy workers.
So what is D & I? Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs. Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized.
Here are four main things to consider for an organization before becoming a D & I workplace.
You need the buy-in from top management. First of all, you need to have top management behind your back. They are the ones that need to be the sponsors and ambassadors of your D & I activities. They should be the role models and spokespersons. Yes, there are some who understand the need to be D & I but definitely not all of them. There are solid business cases behind D & I initiatives, so show them the money! For instance, a study conducted by ISS and proacteur (based on data collected by PwC) found that “Companies with the most diverse management teams have an operating profit margin of 12.6 percentage points more than the companies with the least diverse management teams”. In addition to this, it has been found that diverse companies are actually more attractive to job seekers. Glassdoor polled its users to understand the importance of diversity and found that diversity in the workplace is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. In addition to that, based on Korn/Ferry Institute, 96% of executives actually believe that D & I workforce can improve employee engagement and business performance.
You need to have a project lead. Of course, the D & I activities shouldn’t solely be in one person’s agenda, but in case you do not have one dedicated person standing for that then I can guarantee that the activities are doomed. A lot of organizations have realized that and therefore have appointed a person who’s D & I Director. For instance, D & I Director at Disney is a person who acts as a strategic consultant to business leaders and HR partners focused on attracting, retaining and developing talent that reflects their audiences and promotes an inclusive environment where employees at all levels can perform their best. So yes, organizations (especially bigger ones) that are D & I workplaces should think about hiring and dedicated director who stands on the topic. Others can appoint a person to whom D & I is one of the core tasks.
You need to conduct different trainings, both for candidates, new hires, and existing employees. So let’s have a look at some specific target groups and trainings. For instance, when hiring and working with people with disabilities or special needs it makes sense to train both existing employees as well managers so that they would know what to expect and how to support new colleagues. For instance, ISS Estonia together with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund conducted really different training to company’s managers when put the participants to the role of a disabled person and asked to prepare Estonian biscuit cake. Another challenge that organizations are facing is when hiring people from other countries and cultures. In addition that the new hires do not know local cultures and customs, they also do not know local legislation, regulations, traditions, etc. Like for instance, how to use local transportation, where should the person turn to when he/she is sick, what to consider when looking for a rental apartment, etc. So, therefore, a bit different induction training (supported by different manuals, folders, and videos) for people from different countries and cultures before they even join the organizations is definitely a must.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Yes, communication, both internal and external, is definitely a key to successful D & I program. People need to know what and why you are doing in the organization, they need to believe in it and feel that they are supported by you. But it doesn’t help when all this is only known inside your organization. Therefore different external audience targeting activities are definitely a must. So what kind of communication to use and do? I would recommend to write articles, participate in seminars and conferences to tell your organization story, but also conduct different studies and polls about D & I, and to participate in different D & I competitions. So do not be modest, in case you have something to tell, then do that!
Let me know what is your experience with D & I!
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