Inclusion, not diversity, is what matters most

Top 50 inclusive employers’ report reveals

Inclusion, rather than diversity, is what will bring the most change within workplaces and society at large. As employers seek to address diversity in their workplace, they should be looking beyond simply ‘making up the numbers’ to achieving inclusion.

This – and other key trends – have been revealed in the latest Inclusive Top 50 (IT50) Report, an annual benchmark of the current state of EDI (equity, diversity and inclusivity) in UK workplaces. Compiled by Inclusive Companies, this extensive report is based on responses from over 750,000 members of the UK workforce from new junior joiners to those on executive boards.  The report’s findings are even more wide-ranging as the organisations which took part cover a diverse range of public, private and charity sectors. 

There has been year-on-year growth in the number of companies submitting their data for independent evaluation since the first IT50 List in 2016.  Something very noticeable is the fact that the UK’s workforces have become far more diverse.  Whilst Paul Sesay, Founder and CEO of Inclusive Companies, is delighted at how such progress has been made, he is keen to stress that this is only the beginning of the journey, “Our ultimate goal is to see inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds across the length and breadth of a business. Our focus this year is to highlight how it is inclusion, not just ‘diversity’, that will bring success within a workplace, its local communities and wider society.”

Diversity and Inclusion – What is the Difference?

Diversity in the workplace relates to employing a varied representation of employees. Inclusion is where these diverse individuals are actively involved, their voices are heard and their views valued and acted upon. This, in turn, leads to a sense of belonging within the workplace and true equity.

Paul continues, “Employing a diverse workforce is the first essential step but without inclusion, this could be viewed as more cosmetic than meaningful. Organisations need a greater presence of diverse individuals at more senior levels to provide role models for emerging talent while ensuring inclusion runs throughout their organisation.”

IT50 23/24 Report

The IT50 Report – available in full here and as a summary here – includes a wealth of insight, trends and data showing the progress made and next steps to be taken towards achieving inclusion in the workplace.

Meanwhile, some key actions organisations should consider to achieve inclusion, not just diversity, in their workplace include:

  • Ensure diversity in the boardroom and Senior Leadership Team to show their commitment to EDI, ensure diverse views help drive good quality decision-making.
  • Prioritise EDI leads within the business to keep focus and energy behind diversity and inclusion goals.
    • The IT50 Report shows the number of companies with EDI Leads has fallen slightly. A worrying trend in itself, as Diversity Officers are more likely to be from a diverse background, employers are also cutting their diverse talent when losing these important roles.
  • Ensure EDI Leads / Diversity Officers have a direct link to their Executive Board which, typically, will be far less diverse in its make-up.
    • Inclusive Companies first explored if D&I leads had a direct link to Executive Boards in 2021. Over the past two years, there has been a significant rise (6.23%) in companies within the IT50 who have a D&I lead with a direct line to the Executive Board.  So, things are going in the right direction.
  • Actively encourage and support workplace Networks to give people a visible identity and sense of belonging. 
  • Ensure senior team members actively participate and engage with these networks. Better still, have a member of the senior management team in each network so they can actively contribute to discussions and actions.
  • Measure inclusion by setting meaningful, data driven Diversity and Inclusion metrics to identify risk factors, prioritise initiatives, set targets, programme goals, assign accountability and measure the impact of initiatives.

The brave will thrive

“Maintaining a thriving EDI strategy is key to equipping a workplace to succeed in a constantly evolving corporate workplace,” says Paul. “Those that seek to become truly inclusive are attractive propositions as employers, customers and clients. It is they who will attract and retain talent.  In short, those organisations brave enough to evolve will be the ones to thrive.”