Creating inclusive workplaces

Creating inclusive workplaces

It’s time to change. So says the CBI in their latest drive to make workplaces more inclusive in order to deliver business growth and greater opportunity. In pursuit of this aim the CBI has launched a report entitled ‘Time for action: the business case for inclusive workplaces.’

The report, which should be compulsory reading for all business leaders and executives, is both thought-provoking and challenging; not the least because of the headline statistics which the report conveys. For example, the report highlights the fact that in the UK promoting female equality in the workplace is worth the equivalent of 35% of GDP. In addition, businesses with the highest level of ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to outperform their rivals whilst high gender diversity results in a 15% outperformance level.

According to the CBI an inclusive workplace is one in which “differences of gender, sexuality, race, age, social background, physical and mental ability, and even differences of thought and experience are welcomed.” We have previously written about the way in which diversity in the boardroom not only promotes diversity throughout an organisation but also helps businesses to better reflect their customer and constituent base and this theme is reflected strongly throughout the CBI report.

With Brexit uncertainties affecting many UK businesses, topics such as innovation and employee engagement have risen strongly up the agenda as a means to deliver results in a time of volatility. Here again diversity can affect the outcome, with employees reporting that they are “83% more likely to innovate and more than twice as engaged in workplaces that are both diverse and inclusive.” As a result the report calls on leaders to make inclusion a business priority, establishing a strategy and measurement which will drive diversity and inclusion across the workplace.

But diversity isn’t, and should never be, solely confined to the pages of a strategy document. Those leaders who are sincere about building a diverse and inclusive workforce need to live their beliefs through their everyday actions and decisions. This includes promoting recruiting practices which will boost diversity, whether that be by changing the selection criteria or by offering facilities such as flexible working.

Interestingly here the report highlights that over half of UK employers offer flexible working facilities but that this is mentioned in fewer than one in ten job adverts, perhaps creating the perception of discrimination where none actually exists. And once employees are on board the drive for diversity and inclusion doesn’t end, with attention being paid to areas such as team working as well as providing the appropriate pathways for people to develop and progress.

Diversity and inclusion isn’t some box ticking exercise in order to satisfy a vague notion of equality or delivering quotas. Rather, as the report says, ‘it is about making the changes that will help UK businesses and their employees succeed globally.’

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