As our planet becomes more connected and the “global village” grows – it is important businesses are aware of the diverse nature of the modern working world. Although many great strides have been made in making society a more inclusive place, there is still a long way to go. One in five employees in the UK do not believe their company is an inclusive workplace. So how can organisations tackle the tough subjects surrounding DEI, and create a safe, understanding and respectful environment?
An environment everyone is proud of
According to Glassdoor, 76% of those searching for employment say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering job offers. Attracting people who respect their future colleagues will make sure everyone feels welcome in the workplace and part of the team. It is important to recognise the differences amongst the workforce, and that a universal approach is not always appropriate when creating an environment for your employees.
People from different backgrounds may approach a situation or task in a new way, and understanding this can open up a world of opportunities for your business and its output. Just because something has been done one way for a long time, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Having different voices on your team, and allowing them the space to be heard will form an environment that feels welcoming and nurturing for cultural differences.
Understanding and Adaptations
Talking about equity is acknowledging hardships for a marginalised group, and adapting to make things better for all. Creating a ‘new normal’ where everyone has a fair chance to succeed and thrive encourages hard work and passion for the company, regardless of their background or gender.
Accessibility is also a principal factor when considering the equity of your business. Making sure you have ramps in place for wheelchair users or even small things like making sure the coffee is in reach. It all adds up to a more equal environment for all employees. You can also ensure that there is software in place for blind, deaf or disabled colleagues, so that they can complete tasks in a way that adapts to their needs. This doesn’t have to be one size fits all, make sure you are listening to all your employees needs, and if there is something specific they require in order to work effectively, find a way to make both the company, and the worker happy.
Respect is key
Making sure all employees feel included will help staff retention and satisfaction. Be considerate of all of your workers faiths, gender orientations, race and sexual identity, so that nobody feels left out when they come into work. Encourage sharing your employees culture within your organisation, by creating events or activities based on colleagues’ foods or cultural holidays. This is a great way to get people talking, and create a safe and open space to ask questions and learn about new faiths or cultures.
Build on this by allowing employees to have a separate private place to pray. Allowing flexible breaks for these employees shows respect for their religion, and encourages their colleagues to learn more about different beliefs and ideologies. Perhaps encouraging employees to add their pronouns to emails or letters will make those in your organisation who are transgender or nonbinary feel heard and understood, and also open a dialogue about gender for those who wish to understand more. But make sure these conversations are productive. Create specific DEI policies that apply to your office, so discussions can be beneficial, and respectful for those at the heart of the conversation.
Businesses need to be accountable
Everyone deserves to feel respected whilst at work. It is paramount that businesses start to step up and take accountability for their employees safety and happiness when dealing with issues with DEI. Make sure there is up-to-date sensitivity training for all members of staff, and make sure to include microaggression training; so that all of your team understands what can be viewed as discriminatory behaviour, and also so that they call it out when they see it. With 57% of employees witnessing discrimination or a lack of inclusivity whilst at work, make sure that your employees are aware of the importance of speaking up when they hear this language in the workplace.
Making these changes your office forms a more productive and safer environment for all your employees, and as the world gets smaller thanks to modern technology, attitudes must change and adapt to all the rich and diverse cultures found across the globe.