Businesses are beginning to make diversity a strategic priority and legislation has long been in place to outlaw discrimination based on protected characteristics. Workplace equality is not yet a reality though. How can we shift the dial?
Last year, CIPD research investigated the case for diversity. We found that the business and moral case for workplace diversity is clear.
But to make work truly equal, many barriers need to be managed; from unconscious bias (and in some cases, conscious bias), to lack of representation in leadership positions. As well as thinking about representation, we also need to think employee experience at work, and this is where inclusion comes in.
Why is inclusion key?
An inclusive organisation allows everyone to be supported, valued and accepted at work. It goes without saying that lack of inclusion has unacceptable impacts for employees and wider society. For example, a recent report by Stonewall found that one in five LGBT employees reported abuse because of their sexual orientation.
Inclusion makes absolute sense for businesses too, who increasingly operate in a rapidly changing, globalised world. Only when organisations have inclusive practices, can they tap in the widest pool of talent and harness the skills they bring. Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has estimated that workplace gender inequality could cost economies up to 15% of their GDP.
How can inclusive practices drive change?
“Women chose to have children then take time off to care for them, so may inevitably see slower career progression”. A slightly paraphrased, but real comment, from a Twitter thread I saw recently. Admittedly, not the most reputable source of information, but it really highlights the role organisations can play by having inclusive practices for working parents and challenging the current status quo.
Fathers also choose to have children but tend to see no stalling in career progression when they become parents. Organisations alone can’t change societal gender roles, but they can offer enhanced shared parental leave and provide a supportive working culture that allows either parent to chose to take time off and offer flexible working options to balance caring responsibilities and work.
This is just one example of ways that organisations can become more inclusive. Taking stock of where practices and policies simply aren’t working for everyone is a good place to start. This extends beyond parental leave of course; workplace equality does not and should not stop here. To be truly inclusive, we need to better understand the interplay of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age, other protected characteristics and individual differences like personality and how that impacts experiences at work.
We know our workplaces can and should be more inclusive. To do this, employers must take action. Come to the CIPD stand (D80) at 10:30 on 12 or 13 June to find out how.
This article comes courtesy of Mel Green, Research Adviser at the CIPD.
The CIPD’s Festival of Work (12-13 June 2019, Olympia London, www.festivalofwork.com) promises to be a landmark event for both people professionals and business leaders. By focusing on the most innovative strategies in management, technology and learning, the festival will help you, and 7,000 of your colleagues, to harness the latest transformations and drive a human future of work. With 7,000+ attendees, 160+ inspiring speakers, filled with inspirational live experiences and challenging ideas, it’s the ultimate celebration of people in the workplace.