Here at Advanced People Management we believe there are 6 key pillars of people experience that make up a great organisation. These pillars are performance management, talent attraction, culture & inclusion, productivity, talent management and modern workplace.
In this blog we’ll be taking a look at the importance of an inclusive workplace and how you can achieve this at your organisation.
It is no overstatement to say that diversity, equality and inclusion are already becoming the cornerstones of modern businesses. An organisation’s ability to foster a positive and inclusive environment for their people isn’t just an example of good management, it also acts as a demonstration of just how much a business values its people.
Nowhere is this more critical than when looking at attracting younger talent into an organisation. As Millennials and Gen Z workers (ages 25-40 and 16-24 respectively) begin to make up more than half of the global workforce, it precipitates a shift in prevailing attitudes and priorities.
What has existed for decades as prevailing attitudes among the older generation cannot be taken for granted when trying to position yourself as an attractive prospect for younger candidates. There are increasing incidences of Millennials calling out bias within the workplace, with examples of racism, ageism and sexism being more widely challenged and pointing to a societal shift away from what may have been considered the norm.
Research by Forbes suggests an increasing trend for younger workers to seek out brands who are actively engaged in social causes. For businesses who are looking to appeal to younger talent, they would do well to consider how they are able to demonstrate their commitment to certain values or causes such as environmental issues or matters around diversity and inclusion.
For businesses across all sectors, it is clear therefore, that putting initiatives in place to support a diverse and inclusive workforce should be at the top of their priorities moving forward. From fostering a more welcoming and supportive working environment to transforming the way their brand is perceived by the wider world, diversity and inclusion offers businesses the ability to add value to their organisation in an unprecedented fashion.
What is the role of HR in driving diversity and inclusion?
Challenging unconscious bias
One of the main causes for concern for businesses are the ways in which unconscious bias can bleed into the hiring process and beyond. This could perhaps be coloured by influences such as company culture, existing connections to the business or even something as simple as the personal preference of the hiring manager.
Whilst not always inherently harmful in and of themselves, allowing these biases to filter into the recruitment process can mean bringing on board a new hire who ultimately isn’t a good long term fit for the organisation. Furthermore, allowing these more informal, personal metrics to shape and influence the hiring stage means placing yourself at risk of passing up those individuals who have the potential to truly transform your organisation.
The introduction of a blind hiring process, standardised interview questions and automated pre-screening tests can all help to eliminate well entrenched instances of bias, and help businesses set out on the right foot when it comes to sourcing new talent.
Using inclusive language
As with all things, communication is key and nowhere is this truer than when it comes crafting an inclusive and diverse workforce. As the demand for diversity and inclusion initiatives continues to rise, so too will the need to have professionals in place who are able to lead in a more open and inclusive way.
Deloitte's Equality Imperative makes it clear that true equality isn’t something that can be achieved overnight and that: “equity…takes commitment to examining and redressing the bias and racism built into everyday decisions, which may appear fair on the surface, and which may have even been designed with good intentions, but ultimately have disparate effects on racial and ethnic minorities and other marginalized identity groups.”
Understanding and becoming fluent in inclusive language will also require commitment on the part of business leaders and HR teams. Fluency won't happen overnight and honestly, that’s no bad thing. The diverse spread of your workforce will understand and appreciate the efforts being made to foster a more inclusive environment.
Continuously collecting feedback
When it comes to creating effective diversity and inclusion policy, it is important to ensure that your people act as the spearhead of any initiatives, with their feedback being taken on board in order to influence decision making. Diversity and inclusion is all about creating a welcoming environment for all your people, therefore it is vitally important that your people have a say.
Furthermore, diversity and inclusion isn’t something that can be rushed, nor is it something that can be introduced and forgotten about. Effective D&I represents constant evolution and education amongst businesses, in order to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the challenges facing their people.
It is important therefore that HR teams are always getting the measure of the mood of their people, using pulse surveys or one on one discussions to gauge how truly effective any policies of D&I have been and what adjustments they need to make. D&I benefits your people, therefore their voices have to be heard above anything else.
Creating core values
From an organisational perspective, diversity and inclusion serves as a reflection of your brand as a whole, and also reflects an important aspect of people management, being able to value every person in your business as an individual.
Demonstrating a strong commitment to inclusivity and diversity in your workforce is an undeniable asset from the perspective of your brand reputation, something that will factor massively into any searches for new talent.
We all want to work for organisations that value us as individuals beyond the skill sets which we bring to the company, and businesses who place value on a diverse workforce are effectively demonstrating their commitment to good employment practices and indicating to their people a commitment to their needs as more than just a business resource.
The message therefore is clear, D&I initiatives cannot simply be a trend; rather, employees are looking for businesses to ensure that a diverse and inclusive working environment forms a key part of their organisational structure, rather than something which can be discarded when convenient.
The key to creating truly meaning policies of diversity and inclusion within your workplace lies within the systems you rely upon day to day. By giving your people teams access to a framework which enables them true visibility of all aspects of your organisation, they are better positioned to understand the challenges facing the business from a diversity and inclusion perspective.
Your HR systems should form the cornerstone of any diversity and inclusion initiative as they offer the capacity to not only get the visibility you need but to also ideate and promote new policy and procedure around inclusivity not only to your employees but the wider market around you.
For more information on an inclusive work place, and the other 5 pillars of people experience, check out our eBook: ‘Say Yes to transforming your people experience’.