Whilst it’s helpful that organisations with over 250 employees are now required to consider their diversity position, it’s just not enough if this only occurs once a year — when they’re required to make their annual submissions.
It’s important that all businesses not only understand their people data, but that they own the results — regardless of any uncomfortable truths they may show. Honesty and transparency is the only way to approach it, or you’ll see diversity fatigue set in when good intentions and hard work don’t produce results. So, before business leaders become despondent with the lack of traction and employees become tired of hearing promises that are destined to fail, how should you or your company tackle it?
Firstly, regularly take stock to continually assess where you are and keep diversity and inclusion at the top of your leadership agenda. It’ll help to face any uncomfortable truths which will continue year on year unless you address them; and it will help ensure that you focus on key areas where change can be made — so helps avoid diversity fatigue setting in.
Transparency holds many benefits for your business. Whilst it’s tempting to try and avoid disappointing data, if businesses are transparent about what they’re doing to rectify issues, both current and prospective employees are aware of initiatives being put in place — whether that’s diversity, sustainability/ environment or flexible working. Communication is key! Potential clients and customers also have access to people data in the public domain, so it’s even more important to publish an accompanying narrative with it. These strategies won’t change your data overnight, but make sure you shout about things you’re embedding into your business from the rooftops.
Inclusivity has become high profile in the media. Which is great news. But means that some businesses think it’s sufficient to tackle a single area and, once it’s been covered off, job done. Needless to say, that’s definitely not the case. To become truly diverse, you need to take a good look at all aspects of your business and implement strategies across different departments, so everyone becomes involved and plays their part in bringing about change. . Recruitment, reward strategy and employee wellbeing are just a few areas that require plenty of attention. Ask yourself, do you have adequate policies in place which reflect modern society? If you don’t, then you may lose out to your competitors when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent.
When looking at where you are now it might appear like the challenge ahead is vast. Start by looking for areas where improvements have been made and celebrate these — it will give you confidence and motivation to keep going. If you want to raise the number of underrepresented groups in your senior leadership team, look at the demographics across different departments; consider where you want to get to and then implement policies in all areas which will open the door for them. Make sure everyone is offered the same training and development opportunities, that unconscious biases are stamped out and pay rewards are distributed fairly.
Bringing about any change is hard work and it’s no wonder that diversity fatigue is starting to appear. It’s how you respond to your diversity data which is important. Recognise that diversity and an inclusive workplace culture brings a rich talent pool of experience and ideas, which can only bring you closer to your business goals. Sounds like a win win to me…
Teresa Boughey MA FCIPD is CEO of award-winning Jungle HR and works with executive boards and leadership teams during times of change and business transformations; she is also the author of the number one bestseller: Closing the Gap — 5 Steps to Creating an Inclusive Culture.