Making sure your business offers equal opportunities across age, disability, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation among others is a legal requirement, not to mention a moral one.
And to make sure you’re compliant with legislation and meeting your obligations, it’s likely you have a diversity and inclusion policy in place.
But is it an integral part of your day-to-day operations? Or perhaps it’s like many other business policies – it exists in theory rather than practice.
If it is, it’s time to take a look at it. Because when you have an effective diversity and inclusion strategy in place, you go beyond legal compliance and add value to your business.
Let’s look at some examples.
Diversity and Inclusion in Relation to LGBT Employees
According to the Government Equality Office, nearly a quarter of LGBT employees experienced a negative or mixed reaction from others in the workplace due to their perceived LGBT status.
Society doesn’t change overnight – wider cultural attitudes take a long time to be overturned. But, not supporting the inclusion of LGBT individuals could directly impact on your recruitment and retention. Research shows 72% of allies are more likely to accept a job at a company that supports LGBT rights. So, inclusion has a big impact on your business’s ability to attract and retain the best people.
Diversity and Inclusion in Relation to Disability
According to the House of Commons Library, 81.7% of non-disabled people are employed. When it comes to disabled people, the figure is only 51.7%.
By driving a culture of access and inclusion in your business, could you open up a pool of talent that other businesses are ignoring? And could you see better returns as a result?
Research suggests you would. Accenture found that leading companies that are working successfully towards disability inclusion are, on average, twice as likely to have higher total shareholder returns than those of their peer group.
Diversity and Inclusion in Relation to Age
Aviva conducted a survey amongst its employees and found one in three of its staff believed age was a barrier to opportunity. It took action as a result. What would the results be if you were to conduct a similar survey with your staff?
There are lots of examples that show why age should be no barrier to opportunity – and that employing older workers is actively good for business. There’s a B&Q example that provides stark evidence of this. In the late 1980s, the company staffed one store with solely over 50s (this would be illegal now, of course). In 1991, the company benchmarked the store against four others. The results were striking.
- Profits were 18% higher
- Staff turnover was six times lower
- There was 39% less absenteeism
- There was an improved perception of customer service and an overall increase in the skill base
The lesson is clear: discount older workers at your peril.
The Importance of Taking Action
No matter what the policy, when a business ensures it is more practical than theoretical, it moves beyond compliance and sees other benefits.
To take one example, nearly 70% of finance leaders aren’t completely confident that employees comply with their company travel and expense policies. But when they’re embedded in day-to-day operations as part of an automated process, compliance improves but so does employee satisfaction and productivity.
Embedding diversity and inclusion in the workplace delivers clear advantages. As the ICAEW notes: “Increasingly employers are realising that promoting an inclusive and diverse workplace can bring business advantages, by attracting new clients and new talent into their businesses.”
So it may be time to ask what your business is doing to go beyond compliance when it comes to diversity and inclusion.