Are you as an organisation supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and ensuring that everyone in the organisation is valued as an individual?
We know from CIPD research data that inclusion is increasingly seen as a key driver of progress towards workplaces where everyone can thrive, however, some workplaces still aren’t inclusive for everyone. Employees in the same company can have very different workplace experiences depending on their line manager and their team, but also their background and circumstances.
Figures from a CIPD survey of over 100,000 LGBT people in the UK found that ‘23% had experienced a negative or mixed reaction from others in the workplace due to being LGBT or being thought to be LGBT.’ Another CIPD survey of Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees found that ‘Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees were more likely to say identity of background can impact the opportunities given at work’. Further findings highlight that ‘22% of employees feel that other team members would judge others for being different’. These findings highlight that focusing on diversity alone could even be counterproductive as it doesn’t address the systemic challenges to workplace equality and inclusion, such as workplace culture.
Government policy has put pressure on businesses to make boards more representative, but what about board inclusion? A CIPD study examined the experience of Black, Asian and minority ethnic board members. They identified exclusionary behaviours present on boards such as discussing but not acting on D&I, the dominant group maintaining power and offensive jokes. On the flip side, being comfortable raising issues, having clear diversity values, the presence of training and the feeling that they were encouraged to be themselves were linked to feelings of inclusion. While board members occupy a powerful position in an organisational hierarchy, the experience of all board members is not equal, which shines a light on the importance of inclusionary behaviour at all levels of business. As well as increasing diversity on boards, there is a need to recognise the importance of inclusion at this level and recognise that to both recruit and retain diverse board members, inclusion needs to be considered.
Inclusion, then, might be a better starting point for organisations wanting to increase diversity. It’s clear that as well as employing inclusive practices, different perspectives, beliefs and norms must be valued by an organisation and its leaders and employees for a diverse workforce to thrive.
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