Inclusion is often considered the missing piece in the corporate/ workplace puzzle. An inclusive workplace culture allows all people to thrive at work, regardless of their background, identity or circumstance. It is not enough to increase representation for minority groups, research into FTSE 100 CEOs in 2018 found that they were more likely to be called Dave or Steven, than be female; it is clear businesses must tackle barriers to equality such as poor progression prospects and bias to make real change.
There are clear differences between diversity, equality and inclusion.
Diversity refers to demographic differences of a group. Often, diversity references protected characteristics in UK law such as: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
Equality means equal rights and opportunities afford to all.
Inclusion is often defined as the extent to which everyone at work, regardless of their background, identity or circumstance feels valued, accepted and supported to succeed at work.
Inclusion is increasingly seen as a key driver of progress towards workplaces where everyone can thrive. We have identified four key effects of an inclusive workplace:
- Innovation and creativity: research shows, that inclusive workplaces are six times more likely to be innovative and twice as likely to meet or surpass financial goals. This suggests that inclusion reduces social divide, thus creating a safe space where ideas can free flow and innovation can flourish.
- Employee engagement: employees who feel valued and included in the workplaces are more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work. If an employee didn’t feel as though they could be themselves at work without fear of stunted development and mistreatment, they would find it difficult to align their values with the company and work hard for them, in fact, 79% of organisations say fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace is very important.
- Knowledge sharing: fostering an inclusive workforce will encourage inter-team communications and create fresh new perspectives. Employees will feel more confident sharing information with other team members without the fear of prejudice and bias due to an appreciation of difference and diversity.
- Job commitment and performance: organisational diversity and inclusion programmes enhance loyalty and advocacy towards an employer (81%), increase employee’s commitment to their jobs (70%) and increase overall productivity (61%). Employees are more productive for organisations that actively work to include and develop regardless of circumstance, background or identity. If the correct policies and structure are implemented, you will retain current employees and attract new talent.
Inclusive environments allow individuals to feel like they are valued, supported and that differences are a positive that can benefit the organisation. A workplace where everyone can share knowledge without discrimination can lead to reduced absenteeism, enhanced creativity, and reduce the barriers to inclusion for underrepresented groups. Ensure that your workplace has a diversity and inclusion programme in place; the benefits go beyond the bottom line and towards creating a culture that can increase employee morale for years to come.
By Abbie Hanton
More articles by Abbie Hanton