Julie Graham, CEO of Ingeus’s employment services, shares her approach to making sure your workforce feel valued and included.
During this Pride month we have heard a lot being spoken about the need to improve the diversity in our workplaces, as well as society as a whole.That’s understandable, with research by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) just last year showing that LGBTQIA+ employees are more likely to experience workplace conflict and harassment than their heterosexual counterparts.
Forty per cent of LGBTQIA+ workers and 55 per cent of trans workers have experienced such conflict, compared with 29 per cent of heterosexual employees. But I think it’s important the conversation does not see as its endgame solely the creation of diverse workplaces that represent employee characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities and ideologies.
Instead, I’d like to share a few thoughts about the other half of the equality equation – inclusion. This means everyone in your diverse workforce feels involved, valued, respected and treated fairly.
Take a pulse check of your current inclusivity culture
Use existing workforce data to uncover barriers to inclusion. For example, compare promotion rates between demographic groups or 360-degree feedback data to understand line manager behaviours related to inclusion. Run focus groups or feedback sessions to get an understanding of employee perception of current practices and policies. Whatever approach you take, make sure you communicate clearly why the data is being collected, and what action will be taken as a result. And ensure there are many ways to provide feedback, both online and offline.
All employees need to understand their role in building inclusive workplaces. Business leaders should set clear standards of behaviour in terms of treating all colleagues with dignity and respect, and empowering employees to challenge behaviour that goes against this. From inductions to annual performance reviews make sure everyone understands what inclusion means in their job and how they can safely challenge or highlight exclusivity.
Develop the capability of line managers
Managers are vital in embedding inclusion. Treating all employees with respect, supporting their development and ensuring they have a say in the workplace is critical for any manager. Examine progression and hiring data to ensure a level playing field and address any bias. Embed inclusion in line manager training and development.
Build senior commitment
Senior leaders set the tone for the behaviour that’s expected in the business. You should have an inclusion champion at a senior level who can speak up for under-represented groups and flag any issues that need addressing. HR teams should work with senior leaders to develop self-awareness and understand their own biases.
Have clear lines of communication
Evaluate if existing channels can be improved to ensure employees feel they have a say in the organisation, are clear what its’ purpose and values are and understand the part they play in achieving its’ goals. Help employees feel included by talking openly with them, letting them know how the business is doing and being clear about any changes or plans. Open – or town hall – meetings allow employees to meet and ask senior managers questions.
Make sure recruitment practices are inclusive
Think about where you advertise: make the most of job sites aimed at particular sectors of the population and highlight the fact your company is inclusive and diverse. Demonstrate that by the make-up of your interview panel and by employee case studies on your website.
Consider using employability services such as ours at Ingeus where we offer government-funded recruitment support and expert advice to help organisations find the talent they need to help create the culture they want, including inclusive workforce planning covering those people with disabilities and ex-offenders.
Promote inclusive events and activities
Hold activities and events that encourage greater understanding in the workplace, such as Black History Month, LGBTQIA+ History Month and Mental Health Awareness Week.
CIPD research shows inclusion benefits employee satisfaction, boosts creativity and reduces absenteeism. This can’t be achieved by paying lip service to the idea of inclusivity.
During Pride month many organisations celebrated the LGBTQ+ community, but creating a genuinely inclusive culture also requires targeted, consistent and sustained action that reinforces the message: inclusion is relevant to everyone in the business, and every month of the year.