As we mark National Inclusion Week, Nikki Kinsey, Sellick Partnership group director, looks at why events like this are still vital and how business leaders can ensure their own equality and diversity strategies can create an inclusive culture.
It is no surprise that organisations that have an Equality & Diversity (E&D) strategy and who are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion reap the benefits.
In today’s modern society E&D is vitally important and something all businesses should acknowledge.
However, disappointingly it is still often overlooked and people are still being discriminated against because of their race, gender, sexual orientation or the colour of their skin.
These issues were recently brought to the headlines once again during this year’s US Open Final which has been fraught with criticism.
Serena Williams lost out to competitor Naomi Osaka in a game that has been highly criticised because of the treatment of Williams by umpire Carlos Ramos.
The Women’s Tennis Association has backed up Serena Williams’ claims of sexism regarding the way she was treated raising the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women.
This got me thinking about similar scenarios in the business world, and how many capable business professionals are penalised for something completely out of their control.
There is no reason why this should still be happening, and it is the ignorance of a small percentage of business leaders that continues to be the stumbling block for creating a truly diverse and inclusive world.
Change must always come from the top, so in order to achieve inclusion in our time we must educate this small percentage in the benefits of hiring an inclusive and diverse workforce which can only be achieved as a result of mutual respect and good management.
Incorporating an E&D strategy that promotes this is essential, and something businesses need to consider as a priority.
Implementing an E&D strategy that will assist in creating an inclusive workplace can be a very daunting prospect for some businesses, and many may not know where to start.
Here is some advice, and some tips from business leaders and E&D professionals on getting your E&D strategy up to scratch.
One of the most important elements of your E&D strategy are the policies your business commits to, and these should be reviewed as a priority.
Very few businesses are experts in this field so it is absolutely fine to seek outside advice when doing this.
Ensuring these are streamlined and tailored to your business is key, and remember you need to be able to deliver what it is they are saying.
Managing director at Sellick Partnership, Jo Sellick, believes that appointing a committee or a team of diversity champions is important to help spearhead your businesses E&D strategy.
We decided to do this earlier this year and it is already proving to be a huge success.
Our champions are already making strides to improve our internal processes and training and are working with the senior management team to ensure we remain an inclusive employer and recruitment partner.
Mike Blackburn, managing director at I-COM, said: “In any working environment, there needs to be a strategy and systems in place that encourage inclusion, but strategy on its own won’t ensure that inclusion is achieved.
“Businesses must engage with their staff to understand the needs and expectations of individuals and they must be flexible when implementing initiatives in order to meet those expectations.
“It sounds simple, but so many companies fail at this crucial hurdle.”
Consult staff and stakeholders
Rosie Clarke, senior inclusion and diversity consultant at Inclusive Employers says that you need to consult your workforce, different stakeholders and your diversity data before putting a strategy together.
It is vital that the strategy will change things that your current and future employees find valuable, so speak to them first.
She also advises business owners to be focused on their approach.
She said: “You can’t solve all the problems overnight so decide what to focus on in the short, medium and long term.
“Once you have built your strategy it is also important to decide what your measures of success are and how you will collect information.”