January presents the perfect opportunity for a spot of inward thinking, and a New Year’s Resolution or two. And if your organisation could do with addressing its stance on diversity and inclusion, there’s no better time than the New Year to make a new start.

More of this, less of that. That’s what January is all about for most people. On National Hangover Day (a.k.a. New Year’s Day) most of the country stumbled out of bed with a solemn promise that 2016 would be the year. The year to spend more time engaging with the kids and less time on the iPhone, do more listening and less talking, save more and spend less, move more and eat less. Starting tomorrow…

Equally in the business world, there’s no harm in setting a few New Year goals for improvement. So, if D&I has not yet made it onto your 2016 corporate strategy document, we suggest you read on …


Policy Manual

Every employer should be aware of the need to keep policy manuals and employee handbooks up to date and legally compliant. But (and, be honest!), when did you last review your equal opportunities policy? Do you even have a policy that outlines your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion? At the very least you will need to ensure that you are compliant with the Equality Act 2010, but beyond that a more progressive employer would certainly aim to be communicating a crystal clear message supporting diversity in all areas.



So, that takes care of the written word – you’ve either ticked the policy box, or resolved to address it pronto.   But company policies and core values don’t achieve anything from the back of the filing cabinet. And they’ve only limited traction as a cursory mention on a PowerPoint presentation during induction training. Take a close look at your training programme before it gets under way this year, and make sure that your content reinforces the message of diversity, and that your corporate culture carries inclusive practice at its core.


Sourcing, Selection and Promotion

 ‘We are an Equal Opportunities employer’. The standard statement widely published on most corporate recruitment documentation. (Along with the ubiquitous equal opportunities monitoring sheet). All well and good, but can your organisation really stand by that statement with pride and honour? Quite possibly so, and there are some shining examples out there of companies who take a very proactive stance in welcoming and encouraging applications from as diverse a pool as possible, and in ensuring recruitment and promotion processes are accessible to all. But for others, it may be time for a wake up call. Back in 1996 just having a policy was progressive enough. Twenty years on, the expectations are a little higher. So if you haven’t looked recently at ways to make your recruitment and promotion procedures more inclusive, make 2016 your year.


Diversity Networks and Events

You don’t have to be a large-scale employer to provide access to diversity networks and forums, or to create diversity focussed events in the workplace. Some of our previous blogs have highlighted award winning examples of organisations bringing minority groups together socially and professionally, and utilising these as opportunities to spread awareness and acceptance across the wider employee community. Whether it’s through social media groups, gatherings in the company cafeteria, or through local community events, there are lots of ways to embrace the diversity that your corporate and local community have to offer. A quick internet search will easily reveal calendars and listings of the key D&I dates this year. You can also investigate locally to find out what’s happening on your doorstep and how your business can get involved. And crucially, ask your minority population for input – what would they like to see you do more (or less) of, and how would they feel more invested in?


Mentors and Role Models

There’s nothing more powerful than a living, breathing role model to advocate change and progress. Take a moment to look at your company structure. Can you identify within it a fine balance of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and ability at all levels through your structure. If the answer is yes, then fair play to you. And for those who are willing, you should encourage them to open their door to those aspiring to follow in their footsteps. If the answer is no, then a spot more naval gazing may be required, in order to establish why there is a glass ceiling preventing all but a certain profile of individual from rising up the ranks.


Working Practices

As a business owner or a senior manager, you cannot have eyes on everything that goes on in your business. All the more reason why it is crucial to know that your managers are fully trained and aware of the need to ensure diversity and inclusion are considered a high priority when managing day-to day working practices. Whether it is allowing time and space for religious worship, giving more than just a passing consideration towards accommodating flexible work requests, or, crucially, nipping in the bud any hint of intolerance towards minority groups, your managers play a vital role in ensuring that the commitment your organisation has made to D&I plays out properly ‘at the coalface’.


Reasonable Adjustments

If you’re a little rusty on some of the terminology around the Equality Act 2010, and specifically in reference to disability, don’t let January pass you by without a little refresher. Be clear on what is defined as a ‘disability’, how this translates in terms of your responsibilities, not just as an employer, but as a prospective employer also, and what is meant by ‘reasonable adjustments’.


Task Forces / D&I Managers

You’ve read this far. Which would suggest that you’re pretty keen to make this D&I thing happen in 2016. So, why not join the ranks of some of the most committed employers and either hire a dedicated D&I Manager / Officer (in the case of larger companies) or harness some of the enthusiasm within your existing team by creating D&I task forces (a solution for smaller organisations). These individuals and groups can really take the bit between their teeth, and with input from those directly impacted, they can be a real ambassadors for change and improvement.


Family Friendly Policies

 With the introduction of Shared Parental Leave, and now even the prospect of grandparents becoming entitled to paid leave for childcare, there is no doubt that the workplace is having to adjust more and more to accommodate family life. If you have employees on parental leave or adoption leave, or who have just returned to the workplace, take the opportunity to explore their feedback on how well supported they have felt by your organisation. You’ll either be pleasantly surprised by the feedback, or it will prompt a swift and necessary review of your return to work procedures.



 Last but not least, know your people. And we mean really know your people. Not just the data on their employee files, but what makes them tick. Get to know what makes them come to work with a spring in their step. Equally find out what makes them drag their heels. Find out who can’t wait to tackle their 2016 objectives head on, and at the same time, who would rather be counting the paper clips. Visit our website www.great{with}diversity.com for more information about our products and services. Our audit tools will allow you to break all that data down by minority group. The results might just tell a story, and they will almost certainly give you a head start on your 2016 strategy for diversity and inclusion.