How businesses can become more strategic around diversity and inclusion
This period in time will go down in history, not just because of the pandemic, but also as a result of the economic crisis it caused. Billions of people have been forced to sit down, observe, think, and reflect on some of the challenges we are facing as a global society. Now, there is an agenda for companies to race towards improving diversity and inclusion for the future.
During the lockdown, unemployment levels for Black, Asian and minority communities in the UK, shockingly rose 3 times higher than for white communities according to TUC. This supports the need to close the gap in diverse hiring across underrepresented communities.
Businesses need to think about the bigger picture!
Now more than ever, there is a clear need for your organisation to rethink equality as brands, employees, and communities rethink how diversity and inclusion can become a competitive advantage. It is not enough to merely come out with a press release and state that your organisation wants to become a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
There has been an increase in the outpour as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. However, one can’t help but think if enough has been done!
- Social media was awash with black squares as ‘Black out Tuesday’ and promises of racial equity swept across the world.
- Companies across all sectors wanted to learn more about embedding race and ethnicity as part of their overall culture and inclusion strategies
- Loads of people in DEI, HR, People and other senior leadership roles proclaimed “We must do better” as a strategy of pleasing the crowd.
This is all meaningless until you think about long term change. And it can start in the fundamental roots of our businesses.
Many organisations took a hard look at their workforce and saw a gap as their employees did not represent their consumers — especially in the highest-ranking roles.
A lack of diversity is not an overnight phenomenon — It is the result of years of neglecting a negative environment and a culture that accepts a lack of diversity and inclusion. This normally develops from the fear we have for trying anything different. Fear is a primal human emotion that forces us to keep our business environments the same and to our level of comfort.
However, the opposite can be true — Building a diverse workforce can lead to a gold mine of opportunities as your employees and your products can reflect new trends that your brand may not have been aware of in the past.
“We can talk about the problem, do something about the problem or we can do both” — Debbie Millman
What you can actually do about it:
- Open the door for others — Make sure that your sponsors focus on supporting talented and diverse staff across their career. This can be extended from working on a development plan to giving them access to career opportunities to prove themselves. Most importantly, the company should aim at ensuring that all employees have a voice.
- Transparent diversity strategy — Every organisation needs goals and metrics to work towards. It’s one thing to proclaim your business wants a more diverse workforce, it’s another thing to make it a measurable goal for your organisation to be accountable for. Let your numbers do the talking by showing the world you really care.
- Not just a grassroots system — It’s not just enough to have employees from diverse backgrounds. You need to consider how to strategically place people across the business at different levels. This includes a clear development and promotion strategy that is transparent.
- Empower your employees — Just hiring a diverse team is not enough. You need to find ways to retain them as well. Creating opportunities for everyone in the organisation to openly discuss diversity means a lot for the organisation. One can also create a more open and safer place to work for under-represented employees.
Consumers voting with their wallets!
Are you really ready for more a diverse organisation? Or, is it just lip service? What are some of the long-term strategies you would need to consider to make this a reality? Both customers and employees are smart enough to understand the difference. And they all support you if your heart’s in the right place.
It’s not enough just to state that your organisation is a diverse and inclusive company. The question is to understand the value of diversity and inclusion. The prime necessity is to actively include this into your strategy as a business and reap the rewards long-term.