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Diversity & Inclusion Strategy - A Guide

Fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces opens your business up to invaluable diverse thinking. Diverse and inclusive workplaces can also make a significant impact beyond the office door, creating better professional lives for people from minority groups and driving change in society-wide inequalities.

What’s in this D&I strategy guide?

How can you ensure your diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy is having real business impact?

Together with industry experts, we’ve created a complete guide to help.

In this guide, you’ll learn about:

  • The Basic Principles of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Understanding different needs and experiences
  • How to build a diversity and inclusion strategy toolkit

Looking for a teaser? We’ve got an except of the guide for you below. 

The basic principles of diversity and inclusion

Before we tackle strategies, let’s narrow a complex topic down to some basic principles. What are we trying to achieve when we’re putting together a D&I strategy? 


Removing unfair barriers 

Everyone should be able to access fair employment, and feel safe and content when they are in their workplace. Unfortunately, for many groups of people there are a lot of barriers that stop that from happening. 

To think about what barriers exist, we can look to hiring, employee experience and employee growth. Consider these questions: 

  • Do all groups feel like they are welcome to apply for a position at the company? 
  • Are they considered fairly and in an equitable way when they are undergoing the recruitment process?
  • Do employees feel encouraged to share their ideas at work? 
  • Do they feel rewarded for their achievements and free to be their authentic selves with their colleagues? 
  • Do they feel encouraged to grow and be given promotion opportunities? 
  • Are they supported in development and urged to pursue leadership roles?

These are often areas where people from diverse groups find themselves encountering barriers. 


What are the drivers of these barriers?

It can be unconscious bias – where leaders or managers may be making decisions or comments that are discriminatory without intending to. But it could also be conscious bias. Openly discriminatory discussion and actions can still take place even within companies that consider themselves to be progressive, and this needs to be called out and challenged.


Understanding different needs and experiences

In the Journal of Business Ethics essay ‘Building an Inclusive Diversity Culture: Principles, Practice and Processes’, academics Nicola Pless and Thomas Maak explore the essential need for colleagues to listen and understand each others’ experiences. They suggest that this can be made easier when a company has a culture of active listening, consideration and trust. When you have a better understanding of your staff’s perspectives, it will be easier to act with equity in mind and create a fair and welcoming environment.


Treating everyone with respect 

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Every person in a company is an individual with different skill sets, ideas and feelings. When employees feel engaged and respected by the company and other team members, they’re more likely to have a greater sense of wellbeing and they will want to contribute to the company’s success. When employees feel like they are not being shown respect, their sense of wellbeing can suffer, they can disengage from the workplace and even consider resigning.


An atmosphere of inclusion 

When you have created a workplace that values diversity, you don’t only implement policies and formal goals – you have a culture of inclusivity. In an inclusive culture, everyone feels welcome at the metaphorical table, in fact it redesigns the table totally to give everyone around it not just a seat, but an equal share of voice. Ideas are free-flowing between members of your team, each person feels equally valued and everyone feels nurtured for growth within the workplace. 


Celebrating difference 

When your business is powered by diverse thinking, it has the best chance of succeeding, thriving and growing. Difference is an asset to your business. Diversity should not just be accepted, it should be sought-out and celebrated. So if this is what we want to achieve – let’s explore how we can achieve it! 

How is equity different from equality? Imagine you’ve got a bunch of friends over for dinner. If you want to give everyone an equal experience, you might serve everyone steak. But what if you know you have vegetarians among your guests? Creating an equitable environment means instead of giving everyone the same experience, you recognise people’s different needs and tailor your menu to them accordingly.


Open up the conversation

As you start putting together your strategy, take an honest look at the improvements you might need to make in your workplace. Encouraging all of your employees to speak out about their experiences in the workplace should be your first stop in creating a diversity strategy.

Take stock of your company culture over the last few years – review any discrimination complaints and how they were handled by management. Invite your employees from diverse backgrounds to share their thoughts on what programmes would help prevent any discriminatory experiences they may have had from occurring again. Actively listen, with empathy.

Remember, don’t have your employees from diverse backgrounds be the driving force behind your strategy. It’s everyone in the company’s responsibility to create an inclusive culture.

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