Many companies will claim to embrace diversity but what practical benefits can this deliver to a small business? Genuine diversity is more than just the gender or ethnic mix of your workforce. To be truly diverse companies need to incorporate the principles into their fundamental design.
This involves proactively seeking out the best talent from across a range of backgrounds, ethnicity, gender, geography, religious and political beliefs. To have any real impact, diversity needs to be at the core of your business rather than seen as an “add-on”.
What benefits can diversity deliver?
When it comes to recruiting staff, embracing diversity opens up a far wider talent pool. Those who only recruit in their own image miss out on the opportunity to bring in fresh perspectives and greater creativity. Different ways of looking at the issues can help to deliver new solutions.
A team with a fully inclusive culture will have a well-developed team spirit and be strongly motivated to succeed. Operating in this type of “safe” environment enables people to be confident and give the best of themselves, which will help push performance to new levels. Turnover and sickness levels also tend to be lower, avoiding the associated high costs to the business.
People will identify positively with organisations that employ a workforce that mirrors the wider population and hence their customer base. This acts as a practical demonstration of the values of the business – something much more powerful than statements or slogans. This type of positive PR has real commercial value.
It’s all about reputation
The company’s reputation can also be enhanced as a good place to work and do business. This is becoming increasingly important when dealing with the millennial generation, who are far more interested in social policies and diversity when choosing where to work.
Delivering diversity in practice
So what practical steps can an organisation take to embed diversity into the business and deliver on the associated benefits?
– Address attitudes in the current workforce – prejudices usually arise out of fear or lack of knowledge. Start the conversation with
– Avoid unconscious bias – talk openly about unconscious bias – most people are completely unaware that they carry these preconceptions into
– HR teams have a key part to play – in helping translate a company’s Equal Opportunities policy into something more meaningful. This can involve arranging workshops or refresher training for staff to find ways to apply the policy in a more practical way.
– Build your team – find ways to bring your team together with a shared goal. Differences give strength to a team, but they need a clear common purpose to be effective.
– Create an inclusive culture where ideas are welcomed – maximise the benefits by using
– Audit against other organisations – comparing against others in the sector or your locality will enable you to benchmark the company on a range of diversity measures.
– Survey your staff – to monitor whether staff genuinely feel that there is a culture of inclusion. Use the data obtained to address any issues highlighted.
– Have a clear and accessible grievance procedure – this will make sure any issues that arise are acknowledged and addressed. Ignoring issues is no different than condoning them. Make sure you carefully audit any complaints and review the outcomes.
– Compliance with legislation – make sure you comply with all relevant legislation and reporting requirements e.g. gender pay gap. Audit and review data to ensure action is taken to address any issues highlighted.
In today’s highly competitive climate, those businesses who successfully embrace diversity will be the ones to thrive.