Diversity Matters: Benefits of a Diverse Workplace and How to Achieve Them
Are you a people lead or office manager? Are you wanting to ensure that you have true workplace diversity? You might be wondering how you handle holidays such as Easter and Christmas, or wondering what else you can do to be diverse and inclusive to all. After all, a truly inclusive workforce should involve everyone. We put diversity and inclusion in the workplace under the microscope, so you have some pointers to look at.
Creating diversity in the workplace
What is a diverse workplace?
Diversity in a team can refer to disability, race, neurodiversity, sexuality, age or gender. It’s about having a workforce that is accessible, welcoming and conducive to development for people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Workplace diversity matters.
Did you know there are 12.5 million white male business owners in America, who comprise about 41% of the 30.5 million total owners of small businesses in the states? That’s significant!
The reason for a push on diversity is not to tick a box, or it shouldn’t be.
Wanting to be diverse means you acknowledge that:
- A diverse workspace makes things better for the business – you have more varied ideas, points of view and a way to change for the better.
- A diverse workspace inspires others. One company making a change is great – and it spreads far.
- Customers increasingly care about the companies that are selling their products. Today, how a company operates internally influences brand.
Are you a place of true workplace diversity?
Equality and diversity in the workplace
Diversity is the range of people in your workforce. For example, this might mean people with different ages, religions, ethnicities, people with disabilities, and both men and women.
But equality and diversity in the workplace is more than just having people who appear different – it also means valuing those differences.
To ensure this happens, there are laws. There isn’t a diversity law, but there is the Equality Act. This was formed in 2010 in order to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
The Act states that there are protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
All of these characteristics should be considered in the following areas:
- Recruiting new staff
- Training and promoting existing staff
- Equal pay
- Religious beliefs and practice
- Dress code
- Unacceptable behaviour
- The dismissal of staff
- Different types of leave for parents
- Flexible working
For example, you should ensure employees do not miss out on a job or training opportunities and are informed about any important matters and changes in their workplace. This includes those who are away from work because of:
- Antenatal appointments
- Maternity leave
- Paternity leave
- Adoption leave
- Shared Parental Leave
- Caring for children
- Elder care responsibilities
Allowing employees flexible work could avoid the risk of discrimination against an employee because of a protected characteristic.
It should be part of your business that you promote equality of opportunity thereby fostering good relationships between people from different groups.
While the Act protects people from discrimination in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, promotion and dismissal. For employers, embracing diversity means creating a culture where everyone feels respected and included without simply fearing the law.
The benefits are vast – an environment that is conducive to creativity and productivity, with a wide and varied team.
Inclusion in the workplace
So you may have equality and diversity in the workplace, but what about diversity and inclusion? Here are a couple of examples of activities in the workplace which may not be inclusive around some of the protected characteristics or may simply be areas where you are not thinking inclusively.
- Celebrating Christmas and Easter, or earmarking time off around these events, but not other religious holidays, festivals or events like Eid or Islamic New Year.
- Not allowing for fasting periods or making allowances.
- Creating events that negatively impact marginalised groups – for example, a time which excludes working mothers or carers.
- Having parties or events where the main focus is on alcohol or drinking.
- Having incentives or prizes where the treat would involve being away from the home for a period of time.
Now let’s look at these a little closer.
A diverse workplace – does it mean no more Easter or Christmas talk?
It’s important to note that there is no legal requirement for employers to drop or prohibit references to Christian festivals, such as Easter and Christmas, and you don’t have to refer to the religious celebrations and festivals of other religions.
You can give Easter eggs to staff, and the same applies at Christmas. But, you should always aim to have suitable alternatives available wherever possible. That could mean you have a standard box of chocolates for those who don’t celebrate Easter, It could mean a vegan, vegetarian or halal menu and non-alcoholic drinks at your Christmas party for those individuals who have specific dietary requirements on grounds of their religion or beliefs.
At the same time, you shouldn’t insist that your employees use greetings such as Merry Christmas or Happy Easter when speaking to customers or clients. It must be their personal choice.
Worried about diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
Speak to a pro! There are hundreds of independent consultants as well as courses to attend to ensure that you are being the very best you can be when it comes to diversity in the workplace. Don’t wait until you’re accused of not acting inclusively – act now!