In the words of Harry Styles (it’s essential to) Treat People With Kindness. But what does that actually mean?
It’s vital to ensure that, as individuals – or as an organisation or business – when you’re recruiting or building incentives for people to stay and develop their careers, they’re motivated and treated in the right way as people. Any organisation that pays lip service to diversity (and inclusion) will alienate people at the first hurdle. If they don’t, people will become unhappy and leave in droves.
What does committing to diversity mean?
Being diverse means understanding differences, accepting and being inclusive of others and treating them with respect and kindness. We expect this from others regarding ourselves – no matter how someone looks or where they are from. It creates a much nicer and better world and teaches us a lot about people, cultures, life experiences and opinions. Being open to diversity helps everyone feel happy and included.
Why does diversity matter and what does this mean for businesses?
It increases creativity and innovation:
If you put a group of diverse people together in a room, they bring contrasting experiences and perspectives to challenges and solutions. Different people think differently.
Making Better Choices:
When you have lots of different ideas, you can make smarter decisions. You get to think about many choices and what’s good or bad about each one.
Helping More Customers:
With a team of all sorts of people, you can help all kinds of customers too. Customers like to buy from businesses that know and care about them.
Workers who feel important and part of the team’ll work harder and be happier. Everyone enjoys their job more.
Looking Good to Others:
When a company thinks that all kinds of people matter, others notice. A modern, caring company helps bring in the best workers.
Why does it matter to individuals?
A Place for Everyone:
A diverse workplace means everyone is welcome. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or your beliefs. Here are the essential parts that make it unique:
Equal Chances for Everyone:
No matter what your gender orientation or age may be, you get the same chances as everyone else.
All Backgrounds Welcome:
It doesn’t matter what your skin colour is or where your family comes from, you’re part of the team.
Being You is Okay:
You can be yourself, whether you’re tall or short, gay or straight. It’s a place where everyone can fit in.
Believe What You Believe:
You can have your own beliefs and still be part of the group. Of course, we’re not encouraging people to be disrespectful with those beliefs – but mindful of others.
Ways to promote and manage diversity and inclusion in the workplace:
Be aware of unconscious bias:
Unconscious bias at work is like having quick thoughts or feelings about people without knowing them. It’s like judging a book by its cover. Sometimes, we think certain things about people because of their appearance, what we’ve heard before, or just ‘a feeling in our gut’. The tricky part is that we might not even realise we’re doing it. That’s why it’s called ‘unconscious’. Knowing about this is essential because it can stop us from treating everyone fairly.
Establish clear criteria before making decisions (hiring, promotion) to remove bias from decision-making. Hold decision-makers accountable, including yourself. Scrutinise the criteria and consider whether it unintentionally screens out specifically good candidates for hiring or promotion.
Be advocates for fair pay:
Leaders must actively promote pay equality. It still feels like a long, hard battle to get fair pay within organisations, but it shouldn’t be. Have processes in place that identify members of staff who are underpaid for similar roles to another. Cross-purpose or people analytics can help managers identify pay gaps within their teams. At the same time, leaders examine any patterns in different departments to root out any underlying issues or concerns. These insights will help identify any trends or patterns that could exist in certain groups of employees.
Create a thought-out training plan:
Diversity training helps everyone at work understand each other better. It can teach about things like how people talk or think about time, who they are, how they deal with problems, and how they find solutions – or not, as the case may be. It’s usually better if people can choose to do the training instead of being told they have to.
Businesses should pick training that fits what they need and goes along with what they’re trying to do to make everyone feel welcome and equal. Getting help from an outside expert can align the training with an organisation’s goals and values.
Leaders and managers must ensure everyone knows why they’re learning these things and what problems they’re trying to fix. This helps everyone stay interested and see how it helps the whole company.
Celebrate cultural holidays from around the world:
A great way to celebrate diversity and foster an inclusive attitude is to acknowledge and build awareness about religious and cultural holidays. If an audience is manageable after a meeting, asking people how they celebrate traditional holidays is a fantastic way to unite everyone. Think about Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Ramadan, Hajj, and other holidays we celebrate differently. Consider how we can be more respectful of these times when getting meetings in diaries and understanding that different people will have different needs that could require flexibility – in how we think about it and with times in the annual diary.
Simplify involvement in worker support groups:
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are like work clubs where people with something in common can come together. It might be a group of people of the same gender who have the same background, like the same things, or face the same challenges. These groups allow people to support each other and feel more comfortable at work.
Mix things up:
A diverse cross-section of people and talent can only improve everyone’s perspective. It creates more creativity and innovative thinking and spurs discussions. If everyone were the same, we’d all live in a grey, dull world where different ways of doing things – or different views on things – would never be seen nor many more interesting conversations had. Inviting diverse people in age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, culture, or colour brings initiative and light to workplace initiatives or challenges.
Diversity impacts teams and businesses in a wholly positive way. It creates an inclusive culture which inspires eclectic ways of thinking and connects different people in new and different ways.
The recruitment process:
When hiring people, be clear about what you’re looking for and offering. Use transparent and fair language in job ads and bring different people with experience into the hiring process to help choose new workers. By talking to lots of other people about opportunities, teaching everyone to be fair is crucial.
Ensure everyone feels welcome by helping them learn and improve at their jobs. Having groups where people who are alike can talk, listening to what workers say, and making sure everyone can try new things, helps keep all kinds of people in employment and happily so.
Working on It All the Time:
Making sure everyone fits in and feels good at work isn’t something you do just once. It is a constant process, and you must change things if necessary. Always have an open-door policy and a diversity and inclusion strategy to hand, so everyone can feel like they’re part of the organisational family and the solution for when challenges arise.
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