Diversity in the workplace has been under the spotlight as of late – and with good reason. From gender pay gaps to unconscious bias, there are a plethora of issues employers must be aware of and prevent in order to avoid discriminating against both their current team and potential candidates for roles.
With the Equality Act coming into effect in 2010, employers must actively promote equality and protect their staff members from discrimination. In fact, this act states that discrimination in recruitment is illegal.
Below, we explore exactly what diversity in the workplace is, the benefits of promoting an inclusive environment as well as how to promote equality and diversity.
What does diversity mean?
By definition, diversity refers to the inclusion of different human characteristics and traits. This includes, but isn’t limited to, race, age, gender, socio-economic class, and sexual orientation. More specifically, diversity in the workplace means employing people of various backgrounds and cultures, resulting in an inclusive workplace.
Here at Operatix, diversity is a key component of the business. Our talented, diverse team of sales development representatives speak a total of 17 different languages and are from a wealth of different cultural backgrounds. This allows us a natural understanding of international markets, delivering campaigns in 109 countries and assisting B2B software vendors with market entry into three continents.
The importance of diversity in the workplace
There are a plethora of benefits of having a diverse, inclusive workplace – not only for the employees but also for the business itself. This includes:
- The ability to gain different perspectives – Those from different cultures will likely have different life experiences and skills from one another. Therefore, employing people of different backgrounds ensures you have a well-rounded view, rather than just one perspective.
- More likely to outperform competitors – a 2019 study from McKinsey suggested that diverse companies are more likely to outperform less diverse competitors when it comes to profitability. Ethnically diverse businesses had 36% more profitability, while companies with a gender-diverse executive team were 25% more likely.
- Increased employee engagement and employee – it should go without saying that when an employee feels represented within a company they are more likely to be engaged and have a positive impression of the business, thus improving employee retention.
- Improved client relationships and customer service – having an inclusive team is an asset, helping build stronger relationships with clients of a similar background. For example, Operatix has a number of French-speaking sales representatives that have a strong understanding of the local nuances and cultures. This knowledge will improve their relationships and allow for better communication with clients in France.
- Increased innovation – research shows that diverse workplaces are 1.7 times more likely to be leaders in innovation for their chosen industry.
It’s clear that promoting inclusivity and diversity in the workplace can benefit both employers and employees alike, not to mention clients.
How to promote equality and diversity in the workplace
While the benefits of diversity may now be obvious, how to ensure you’re taking measures to promote inclusivity is less so. Below are a few tips and tricks in regards to how to promote equality and diversity in the workplace.
Diversity and Inclusion Training
Diversity in the workplace doesn’t just mean hiring people of different cultures and backgrounds, but also recognizing discrimination. Diversity and inclusion training is a key component of ensuring your team is not only aware of how discrimination may present, but how to combat it.
The training should touch upon how best to work with people of different backgrounds and abilities, as well as why it’s important to flag any instances of discrimination in the workplace rather than acting as a bystander. There are a plethora of online courses that are easy to implement, or you could simply make it part of your onboarding process.
Most recruiters are aware that it is illegal to make comments inferring you’re looking for clients of a specific gender, age or ethnicity, however, there may be some indirect bias during the recruitment process.
- Be careful of how you word job advertisements. For example, the phrase ‘recent graduate’ may appear discriminatory against older candidates or those who may not have had the opportunity to pursue further education. Instead, mention that a degree or experience in the chosen field is preferred; alternatively, list necessary skills and only mention education status if it’s a requirement.
- Be aware of where you’re advertising your job opportunities. For example, placing an advertisement in a male-dominated magazine or targeting a specific group or gender via an online advert. Posting on your own website as well as promoting on unbiased platforms such as LinkedIn and Indeed is a better approach to ensure it’s seen by as many people as possible.
- Avoid certain questions. There are certain questions you should not ask during the recruitment process, most of which are described as ‘protected characteristics’ by GOV.UK. This includes what sexual orientation they are, how old the candidate is, if they are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant, what religion they are, and if they are married.
It’s important to be aware of what the language used could imply, even if not purposefully done.
Listen to feedback
Taking on board feedback regarding diversity in the workplace is extremely important, as is ensuring your staff are comfortable enough to confide in you regarding their concerns. An anonymous survey is one way to get honest feedback without bias, as well as allowing for employees to be totally honest with their experiences.
This is important as, for example, a man may not realize the bias experienced by a woman nor would a young person experience the same discrimination an older employee may face. Listen to feedback and ensure measures are made to actively combat any discrimination.
Be mindful of religious holidays, events, and practices
There are a number of religious events throughout the year that your employees may want to celebrate, as well as practices you should be courteous of. Consider how you can help celebrate with employees and accommodate their needs.
This may include offering additional time off, ensuring meetings do not interfere with major events, offering a separate prayer space, and including non-alcoholic options at company events. Seek out people of different backgrounds, religions, and cultures to join a social committee to ensure all bases are covered.
Our multilingual sales team accelerates sales and market entry for B2B software vendors. Find out more about how we can help your business thrive here.