How does your organisation measure up against your equal opportunities statement? Is diversity and inclusion one of your core business values? Is it really? In other words, does it underpin every element of strategy, with unstinting support from the dizzy heights of the boardroom to the cut and thrust of the ‘shop floor’? Or is it written in all your literature and mentioned at staff inductions, but in practice just a ‘nice to have’, when budget permits and there’s not much else on the project schedule? If it is more of an afterthought than a core business tenet, there’s no shame in admitting that; you’d be far from alone. But there is shame if you’ve recognised that and done nothing about it.

Beyond the question of genuine engagement with the concept of workplace diversity, there is also the million-dollar question of budget. Like any core part of business strategy, diversity and inclusion will work best when it has its own budget line entry. A dedicated pot of funds set aside, so as to really give it impact, and against which to measure your investment and your return. After all, anyone who has ever tried to deliver anything in business on a shoestring will know how hard this can be. It’s hard to make an impact, hard to send a clear and consistent message, and hard to make a visible and tangible difference. Some (albeit not enough) businesses are beginning to tune into the idea of a dedicated function to manage and monitor diversity in the workplace (presumably with the aid of ringfenced budget resource). These companies can stand proudly alongside their equal opportunities statement and give it demonstrable meaning. But the vast majority of organisations still expect it to be magicked out of an already stretched HR function. The result? At best, the occasional tokenist gesture. If the equal opportunities rhetoric in their corporate literature spoke the honest truth, it would go something like this: ‘We are not an equal opportunities employer. We try to be, but something else always crops up that is more business critical. Maybe next year. Sorry about that.’

Here at great{with}diversity, we believe passionately in the value of a diverse and inclusive work environment. Diversity and inclusion isn’t just a ‘feel good’ factor initiative. It isn’t just a bandwagon that should be jumped on, to ‘do the right thing’. It won’t happen because a few people talk in evangelical terms about the company’s moral and social obligations. Furthermore, to package it up as ‘part of the wider HR remit’ is always a misguided approach; rather, it should be a fundamental part of the business’ DNA which pervades through its culture in every way.

Added to which, it’s about generating discussion about diversity with a diverse audience. One that is representative of the workforce demographic. Yet, so often, networking events, seminars and conferences which zone in on particular diversity related causes are almost exclusively attended by … you guessed it … the minority group whose needs they exist to promote. As brilliant and enlightening a conference about flexible working is, it somewhat preaches to the converted when attended almost exclusively by women of child bearing age. Where, pray, are all the middle aged white men in suits at these events? Maybe issues of diversity don’t affect them individually, but as the core demographic occupying board room and management posts (and they are!), they certainly affect their businesses and many of their employees. If you are genuinely taking diversity seriously as a business value, it’s time to stand up and be counted, because unless you’re working to resolve the problem, then you are part of the problem.

So, what should a diverse and inclusive culture look like? That’s a good question, but the answer depends on your organisation, its demographic make-up, and the wider demographic environment in which it operates. There is simply no ‘off the shelf’ approach to diversity and inclusion, and there definitely isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. You may have one singular goal in mind when you embark on a diversity and inclusion strategy (such as to increase engagement levels among under-represented groups within your workforce). Or you may have additional outcomes in mind, such as improving representation of specific minority groups within your industry sector (e.g. females in the STEM industry) or in proportion to the local demographic. What is as good as guaranteed is that, regardless of your primary objectives, you will start to see returns on your investment in many other ways; increased levels of productivity, engagement, customer loyalty, creativity, profit and talent retention. To achieve all this, though, it needs to be done in the right way, for the right reasons, with the right support. The process needs to be well informed, well planned and well executed. And it needs to be continuous. Diversity and inclusion simply isn’t a one-off initiative.

At great{with}diversity, we can help you to get diversity and inclusion right for your business, by beginning at the beginning with proper analysis and planning. In other words, auditing and assessing your current engagement levels in relation to diversity and inclusion, as reported by the people who matter most; your employees. If your diversity and inclusion culture is to be defined correctly, you need to know what matters to the people who experience everyday life in your organisation. You need to know what it really means to be a female worker, an ethnic minority, a disabled employee, a member of the LGBT community, a Millennial or a ‘Baby Boomer’ in your organisation. You need to identify where and what the problems are, how to fix them, and in what order of priority. ‘Knowing’ is a very different thing to ‘assuming’. Our reports present you with real data and real answers, and they enable you to slice and dice it in multiple ways. They’re the roadmap towards a fully inclusive organisation. And, with any roadmap, it’s almost impossible to figure out how to get where you going, unless you know where you’re starting from and what resources are available to you.

Intrigued to find out more? Our diversity and inclusion audit questionnaires are designed to get our clients thinking in new ways about how (if at all) they genuinely position D&I in their business agenda. They provide some great food for thought, real actionable solutions, and a foundation upon which to build a more inclusive workplace both in practice and in principle. The results tell you, as an ‘equal opportunities employer’, how to make what you preach and what you practice marry up. Real, honest feedback which translates into bold, decisive and solution focussed outcomes.

If, like us, you believe that actions speak louder than words, then don’t make equal opportunities a footnote or an incidental element of everyone’s job description. Build diversity and inclusion strategies into your 2017 budget. By making it a business objective, it will become a business ‘value’. And if you’re unsure where to start, then contact us. From aligning your attraction strategy and recruitment processes to your diversity and inclusion objectives, to understanding the prevailing attitudes and culture towards diversity and inclusion throughout your organisation … we’ve got your back.

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