This June marked 50 years of Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities all around the world. Pride 50 is the anniversary of the first Pride protest March, held in London 50 years ago in 1972. Now, 50 years on, around 1.5 million people take part in celebrating Pride every year.
While Pride Month predominantly celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, at the heart of the celebration is the message of equality, diversity, and inclusion. The concepts of diversity and inclusion have become increasingly prominent in recent years, including in the workplace, where it is now becoming more common to see organisations developing and implementing Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategies as part of their overall business model.
What is diversity & inclusion?
While diversity and inclusion often go hand in hand, they are, in fact, different from each other. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD):
- Diversity is about recognising difference. It’s acknowledging the benefit of having a range of perspectives in decision-making and the workforce being representative of the organisation’s customers.
- Inclusion is where people’s differences are valued and used to enable everyone to thrive at work. An inclusive working environment is one in which everyone feels that they belong without having to conform, that their contribution matters, and they are able to perform to their full potential, no matter their background, identity or circumstances.
Diversity & inclusion in the workplace
When diversity and inclusion integrate, it results in an inclusive and cohesive workplace with fair policies and practices that enable a diverse workforce to collaborate, communicate and work together without discrimination. However, the differences that create diversity are wide-ranging and can include anything from background, culture, and personality, to religion, beliefs, and disability, to name just a few.
In addition, having a diverse workforce doesn’t necessarily mean that every employee has the same experience or opportunities. This means that it’s therefore impossible to create a one-size fits all approach when it comes to managing people in the workplace.
Diversity in the workplace is still important, but it’s inclusivity that’s the key to maintaining diversity and giving all employees a level playing field on which to contribute, feel heard, and thrive.
Why is it important?
Aside from being simply the right thing to do, employers who are prioritising D&I understand the many benefits of a diverse workplace and know that it’s part of improving the employee experience. A diverse workforce means diverse perspectives and ideas. An inclusive workforce means comfortable openly sharing and discussing these perspectives and ideas.
Additionally, an inclusive workplace not only helps you attract diverse talent; it also helps you retain that talent for longer. Research into D&I and company culture has found that when employees feel they will be treated fairly and equally to others, they are:
- 9.8 times more likely to look forward to going to work
- 6.3 times more likely to have pride in their work
- 5.4 times more likely to want to stay for longer at their company
Over the long term, higher levels of equality, diversity and inclusion are associated with greater innovation, productivity and performance; recruitment and retention; and employee satisfaction, engagement and well-being. All of which means a better bottom line for the business.
How to promote diversity & inclusion in the workplace
A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that empowers every employee, regardless of who they are or what their role is in the company, to feel heard, respected, involved and supported. Here are some of our tips on how to build and maintain a more inclusive workplace for a more engaged workforce and a better overall employee experience.
1. Compile your data to assess your current inclusion
To know how to make your workplace more inclusive, you must first identify how inclusive your existing internal practices are. Capturing data on your employees’ demographics will enable you to better understand the diversity of your workforce and spot any areas for concern or improvement.
Most internal systems used for managing employee information will contain this information. If not, the next best option is to conduct an employee survey. It can be especially helpful to use surveys to gather not just diversity data but also insights on how employees perceive your company culture regarding D&I.
This is also a perfect opportunity to review your company policies that impact D&I. These can include employee referral programs, recruitment, and company culture, where there may be unconscious biases and barriers that impede opportunities or inclusion of different demographic groups. There is currently no legal requirement to have a standalone D&I policy; however, having one not only demonstrates your company’s commitment towards being a diverse employer, it can also be useful source of information to your employees on how to treat others equally.
2. Get buy-in and commitment to D&I from your Senior Management Team
Your planned D&I initiatives and policies should have the full support of your Board and Senior Management Team. Securing their buy-in will get you a step closer and make it easier to turn your new or improved strategies into a success.
Make it clear from the start why D&I is important to your company and what is required for your initiatives to be carried out. D&I is not an “optional extra” that can be supported by any spare resources a company has available – it should be a core part of your operations and supported by adequate resources.
Get your managers and those responsible for employees on board by treating them as your company’s D&I representatives. Training can also be extremely useful, providing them with a clear understanding of D&I which may help them identify and correct any biases – conscious or unconscious – that they may have, and learn how to sensitively address any D&I-related issues that may be raised by employees.
3. Build your inclusive workspace with a Diversity & Inclusion strategy
The next step in building an inclusive workplace is to develop a strategy and set of initiatives that utilise a diverse and inclusive workforce to support and achieve their organisation’s business goals. One example could be if your client base was growing bigger, then your goal might be to embrace a more diverse and inclusive team to better address and serve the more diverse needs of your customers. This would then feed into your organisation’s recruitment strategy, with more specific goals created to focus on attracting a more diverse range of talent for your team.
Other initiatives aligned with business goals could include delivering D&I awareness events and team-building exercises; updating or creating guidelines, policies and practices for a better understanding of inclusion and treating others equally; and providing training for line managers to help them respond appropriately to diversity needs. Each of these initiatives helps to build awareness and cultural competence for more effective team collaboration and decision-making.
Employers who don’t have many existing D&I practices may feel concerned that there are a lot of areas to be addressed and quickly. Start by creating an action plan with realistic goals and timeframes, and then prioritise the elements that have the greatest business value or that are readily achievable – this will help build momentum in rolling out each initiative across the business.
4. Communicate your initiatives to your teams
As you implement your D&I strategy, and even before you do, remember to engage and communicate with your employees. They are critical to your strategy’s success and need to be actively involved for your initiatives to contribute to the achievement of your higher business goals.
D&I communications should be targeted and relevant to each of the different stakeholders within the business – employees, managers, Board members, and anyone else who plays a part in your organisation’s success.
Whether the communications are shared in meetings or by newsletter, intranet, or email, they should always aim to inform, educate, engage, and empower your teams to play their part in making your workplace more inclusive. Where possible, make the conversation two-way – give employees a platform on which to voice their opinions, feedback, and ideas, and actively encourage them to be part of your strategy.
5. Review, measure and improve on a regular basis
Last but by no means least – always remember that managing diversity and developing a culture of inclusion is not a one-off initiative. It is a continuous process of improvement and responding to changing needs, where necessary, to maintain an inclusive space in which your employees can feel safe, respected, and heard.
There are a range of metrics which can be measured to indicate the success of your initiatives, such as improved employee survey scores, employee retention, and public recognition, like employer awards, client testimonials and reviews.
Remember to involve your employees and managers, at all levels. Communicating the outcomes is just as important as addressing them and demonstrates not just the return on investment and value-add to your organisation, but also your continued commitment to being an inclusive employer.
How an employee app can be used for diversity & inclusion
Regardless of where you are in your D&I journey, one highly effective (and budget-friendly) tool to help you implement culture change is an employee communications app. There are many approaches and benefits to using an app to drive a more diverse and inclusive culture, as some of our Thrive clients have discovered for themselves.
We often hear from clients that a big part of why they buy our app is inclusion – to make their company 100% inclusive for their workforce. Here is an example of the great ways our clients use their Thrive app to further their inclusion and engagement thinking.
Toronto Region Board of Trade
The Toronto Region Board of Trade (TRBOT) is one of the largest and most influential chambers of commerce in North America. Comprised of a globally diverse workforce, TRBOT is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion. Their Thrive App, TRBOT Connect, was launched based on employee feedback that they wanted to hear more from leadership, have opportunities to connect with and recognize each other, and learn more about diversity & inclusion.
TRBOT Connect has been used in a variety of engaging ways for the team - providing all staff with access to timely relevant information and updates from the leadership team; opportunities to engage in thoughtful conversation; the ability to show recognition for peers; participate in contests and take on a yoga or sleep challenge; learn and engage in all things diversity & inclusion; and share what’s happening in their lives, bringing everyone together.
Sophia Dhrolia, the Director of Diversity & Inclusion & Employee Engagement at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, said:
“Our overarching goal for our people strategy is to create an inclusive environment with purpose-driven work, that values diversity, and where everyone feels they can bring their whole selves to unlock their full potential. TRBOT Connect has been a huge help in enabling us to do this by connecting and bringing together all our employees in one place, where we can educate, engage, and empower everyone to be actively involved in achieving that goal, and making TRBOT a great workplace and employer.”
TRBOT’s use of their Thrive app to support their D&I goals has led to them being shortlisted for the ‘Most Innovative Use of HR Technology’ award at 2022’s prestigious Canadian HR Awards. The annual event is the leading independent awards program in the HR profession, celebrating and showcasing excellence in Canada’s HR industry, so this is a fantastic achievement for TRBOT. The team at Thrive.App are delighted that TRBOT are being recognised for their employee engagement efforts and we wish them the best of luck at the awards gala in September!
Want to learn more?
CIPD states that "regardless of our identity, background or circumstance, we all deserve the opportunity to develop our skills and talents to our full potential, work in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment, be fairly rewarded and recognised for our work and have a meaningful voice on matters that affect us.”If diversity and inclusion is on your company’s agenda, we’d love to chat about how we can help. Contact us to find out more about how a Thrive app can be used as part of your D&I strategy.