Written by Heidi Wadsworth | 14th January 2022

There is increasing pressure on employers to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – and according to a recent Gartner survey, 35% of leaders will prioritise these in the coming year.

But while it’s good news that employers are starting the conversation, we must remember that Diversity and Inclusion should never be a box-ticking exercise or optional extra. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion should run through your business from the top down, always be part of the decision-making process and must be embedded in your company culture.

Why is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion important for recruitment and retention?

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion have a strong effect on the overall culture of your workplace and can help to attract and retain talent of all backgrounds. Here’s why:

To ensure recruitment policies are fair

Before you start the hiring process, you should review your recruitment strategy and factor in any requirements of your diversity and inclusion policy. To attract through a varied talent pool, you need to ensure your requirements for any job role can be justified and do not indirectly discriminate against anybody.

As an example, you might decide to anonymise applications, offer flexible working hours for parents or carers, and actively encourage applications from all in the community. This should continue through to the selection process where all candidates should be marked against selective criteria.

To give employees opportunity to progress

When Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are celebrated, employees have equal opportunities to progress through a business. Staff are less likely to move on from a job if they know they can develop their skills and be rewarded for their hard work.

Opportunities to progress should follow with equal pay and promotion. Many businesses are conducting equal pay reviews which aim to ensure that male and female staff receive equal pay for equal work. This is also necessary to eliminate pay disparities between ethnic groups. Addressing any issues demonstrates a commitment to Diversity and Inclusion as well as equal opportunities within the business.

To protect reputation

If your processes aren’t rigorous and your managers are not trained in diversity issues, you may be leaving the door open for trouble later on.

No employer wants to be tangled up in a discrimination case, so it’s essential for businesses to ensure robust equality policies are in place. There must also be focus on bringing those policies to life and ensuring all day-to-day people practices really do create and sustain a genuinely inclusive culture. Do what you say you will do.

To build a strong inclusive company culture

Actively encouraging the conversation around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion will create an all-round more positive culture. Company culture can be a make or break for candidates when deciding to accept a job offer or even apply for a role. Without attending an interview, candidates can get a sense of what it’s like to work for you from the job ad or speaking to your employees.

New recruits will be looking for ways they can add value and have a purpose in an organisation, so you’ll want to communicate how inclusive the company is and that you value everyone’s ideas. In the job description, you could describe by what means their actions will help in achieving the company’s goals.

To improve employee engagement

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion supports employee engagement, and as a result, retention. When these things are celebrated in a business, employees are more likely to feel comfortable in their roles and with their team and want to stay in the business.

Here are some steps to take to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Reassess your policies

Having equal opportunity policies and procedures is a bare minimum but employers cannot rely on them as a ‘get out of jail free card’. These policies should be kept up to date and reviewed regularly, as well as implemented effectively. This could be by allocating the responsibility of monitoring each one to your management team.

The policies to think about could include an equal opportunities policy, discrimination and anti-harassment and bullying policy (and potentially a separate sexual harassment policy).

Focus on Diversity and Inclusion training

Regular training should be given to all staff on Equality and Diversity, and line managers should be given specific training in relation to recruitment and promotion. This includes regularly reviewing your equal opportunities policy, looking to see where changes could be made and communicating these to your team. Look into providing company-wide training that ensures all employees have a mutual understanding of your equality and diversity policies, this will help your employees to understand what is expected of them.

Also, when was the last time you reviewed your training? Businesses change and people forget, so holding your training sessions or workshop annually will avoid it becoming ‘stale’ and give staff a refresher.

    Communicate with employees

    Employees need to be aware of policies and procedures involved with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and also the potential consequences of breaching these policies.

    Inform your managers and employees about how you expect them to behave and about the importance of complying with your policies. Do not rely on what’s written in a handbook, make sure you speak to your employees too and check that they know what you expect of them.

    This could be carried out in regular 1-2-1s, staff surveys and exit interviews – having an open door policy is also a good idea. You should use these to help you understand where any potential issues lie and whether the steps you are taking are working.

     

    If you’d like to discuss anything mentioned in this blog or need help in reviewing or writing Discrimination, Equality and Inclusion policies, please do not hesitate to get in touch at [email protected].

    Our team can run bespoke Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training for your business in person or over video – for information on this, and the full range of Reality HR training courses, go to our training page.