LGBT+ History Month: Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace

From schools  to workplaces, it's imporant to make sure we're supporting a diverse society

But there's clearly more we could be doing to make everyone welcome in our workforces...

This week marks the start of LGBT+ History Month, an annual event in the UK that takes place every February to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against the LGBT+ community. From schools, workplaces, and communities it’s important to make sure we’re all supporting a diverse and inclusive society.

According to Stonewall, more than a third of LGBT employees have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination, and 1 in 5 LGBT employees have been a target or negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in 2018.

It’s not just the LGBT+ community that are striving for a more open and inclusive workplace, many individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds are facing similar struggles. According to the McGregor-Smith Review (2017), the employment rate for black and minority ethnic groups is only 62.8% compared with an employment rate of 75.6% for White workers.

There’s clearly more that we can all be doing to make everyone welcome in our workforces.

What is inclusion and diversity in the workplace and why is it important?

We all deserve the opportunity to work in a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment, no matter who we are, from our gender, age, religion, race, background, and sexual orientation (just to name a few!).

Although inclusivity and diversity go hand in hand, they’re slightly different. A diverse workplace needs to recognise everyone’s differences and understanding the benefits of having a range of different perspective. Whereas an inclusive work environment is one where people’s differences are valued, where everyone feels that they belong and can bring their true selves to work and that their contribution matters.

 

Why inclusion and diversity are good for business:

We should all be aiming towards a more inclusive and diverse society because it’s the right thing to do. But did you know that being an inclusive and diverse employer can benefit your business? Here’s how:

Your talent pool:

You could be missing out on experience and talent that could benefit your business by not being a diverse and inclusive organisation. Plus, you could be missing out on people who are actively choosing to engage with businesses that share their values.

Creating an inclusive environment is a step on the way to making you an employer of choice, great for both attracting and retaining talent. Showing you are aware of and are openly discussing diversity and inclusion hot topics will also engage your teams.

It’s better for employee wellbeing:

If you show all employees that they feel valued, understood, and accepted they’re less likely to feel stress and anxiety at work trying to hide who they are. Reducing those feelings can have a positive impact on your employee’s mental health.

It can have a direct impact on your business performance:

According to McKinsey, racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35% and businesses with a diverse management team have 19% higher revenue (Boston Consulting Group).

 

How you can promote diversity and inclusivity in your workplace:

There are many ways you can promote diversity and inclusion across your workforce. One way to do so is to include training and education for all employees. You could look at ways you can introduce a focus on diversity in your current training programme, for example you could implement training on unconscious bias. Diversity and inclusion should also be part of your culture and values.

You could also actively celebrate your employee’s differences, you could get employees to give short talks about themselves or do an activity together like an online cook along (a great way to bond with the team, give everyone a chance to learn about other cultures, and everyone gets a tasty meal at the end of it!).

You could also introduce a dedicated employee or team who are champions of diversity and inclusion, ideally including senior leaders and people who are really passionate about it.

For more ideas, the CIPD have reports on inclusion and diversity as well as an inclusion health checker

 

How your rewards and benefits strategy needs to change:

As well as your culture changing to be more inclusive and diverse, your rewards and benefits strategy might need to as well.

Take the time to really look through the benefits you offer your employees and make sure they’re inclusive, from what benefits you are offering to the terminology they are using.

For example, if you offer maternal, paternal, or parental leave you could look at something that is inclusive of single-parent families, the LGBT+ community and even those who need to care for elderly parents.

If you’re not sure where to start, make sure to involve your employees and consider the types of people you want to attract going forward. Ask them what they would want to see from the rewards and benefits strategy and what areas you could help them with.

Also, make sure you’re communicating your strategy regularly, to remind your employees what perks are available to them and give them advice on how they can tailor them to their unique needs.

 

Remember, communication is crucial:

No rewards programme, no matter how amazing and extensive, will work to keep your employees engaged without regular and transparent communication from senior leaders. We’ve all been through a challenging year, and as employees it’s more stressful not to hear anything from management than for them to say that it’s a difficult time for the business.

Plus, don’t forget to remember to just say thanks for all the hard work. Whether or not you’re offering vouchers, prepaid cards, or celebration packages, saying thanks can go along way. It will help keep your employees engaged and motivated.

 

Where you can find out more:

If you want to find out more about how you can work on your inclusion and diversity in the workplace, here’s a few places you can start:

  • CIPD – Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: this is a great starting point on all aspects of diversity inclusion, it also includes the CIPD stance on age diversity, disability, gender equality, race inclusion, religion and belief and sexual orientation, gender identity and reassignment as well as a report on building more inclusive workplaces.
  • Stonewall: for support on creating LGBT-inclusive workplaces including best practices, toolkits, resources and workplace training.

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Sources:

Stonewall – LGBT in Britain – Work Report
McGregor-Smith Review – Race in the workplace
McKinsey – Why diversity matters
Boston Consulting Group – How diverse leadership teams boost innovation