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The five most common “yes, but…” barriers to making organisations more inclusive:
#1. Why bother? What difference will it make?
We all want to get the best out of our people. Doing so means embracing the differences that individuals bring to the workforce. It means enabling each person to give of their best, and to be fulfilled by the world of work and the opportunities it offers. The work of the campaigning organisation Stonewall is underpinned by the principle that individuals can only reach their full potential when they feel free to be themselves. Research by McKinsey highlights the ‘Diversity Dividend’ – demonstrating the links between a company’s diverse leadership and employee base, and its enhanced likelihood of outperforming less diverse organisations.
#2. Says who?
From the charity Working Families, to the TUC, to FTSE100 companies, issues of exclusion and inequality are moving up the business agenda. The most recent World Economic Forum at Davos highlighted key issues including the burden of women’s unpaid work, and leaders’ need for a moral compass (described as the ‘most overlooked leadership skill’).
#3. No problem here!
Really? No problems? Is your staff turnover higher than you would like? How good is morale? Productivity? Absenteeism? Does your organisation have a culture of long working hours? Each of these could indicate that there are underlying diversity and/or inclusion problems, leading to employees feeling less engaged, being less committed, and performing less effectively.
#4. What about the day job?
This IS the day job – improvement, development, getting the best out of your empoyees, and making your workplace as inclusive as it can be, is a surprisingly effective way of letting your employees do their best, whoever they are, however they work. Research shows that if you improve Diversity & Inclusion outcomes, you not only maintain the bottom line, you raise the bar. When employees are able to reach their full potential, they perform better. Better performance means higher productivity, enhanced customer service, improved profitability.
#5. I don’t know where to start
You’ve read this far, so you’ve started the thought process. Considering the points above will help identify key issues in your organisation – and one of those issues might well be that you just don’t know how you’re performing around Diversity & Inclusion.
Most important at this stage is clarifying the vision for your organisation – what would good (or great) look like in terms of Diversity & Inclusion?
You can then embark on the process of gap analysis (where we want to be v where we are). Followed by a realistic assessment of how you get to where you want to be and what/who can help you. Meaning you will have started!