How To Increase Diversity And Inclusion In Your Business

Written by Astriid volunteer Sabeeha Kassam

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is calling for the following key changes to put diversity and inclusion (D&I) firmly on the agenda in business:

  • Equal opportunities access, regardless of age, disability, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, in all areas from recruitment through to career progression.
  • Equipping managers with tools to lead and manage remote or hybrid teams in an inclusive way, ensuring all voices are heard.
  • Collect data and set measurable objectives. Plan how to implement these objectives to ensure diversity and inclusion.

Tony Danker, director general of the CBI, has said that by investing in inclusion, ‘‘businesses are primed to unlock talent, improve problem solving and unleash creativity.’’He added that ‘‘businesses have a vital role to play in achieving a more inclusive economy, where work enables all talent to progress.’’

The case for diversity and inclusion in business is irrefutable, as inclusive businesses perform better. This is backed by the following key statistics collated by the CBI, that companies are:

  • 25% more likely to outperform their competition on profitability if their executive teams are gender diverse.
  • 36% more likely to outperform rivals on profitability if their executive teams have cultural and ethnic diversity.
  • 56% increase in job performance when talent feel like they belong.

Tools to close your business’s ethnicity pay gap as recommended by the CBI

A CBI guide called Bridge the Gap suggests that bridging this gap could uplift UK Gross domestic product (GDP) by £24bn per year. So not only is it morally right, helping to reduce inequality and making society fairer, but makes financial sense too.

The CBI have also found that inclusive companies are 33% more likely to outperform their competition on profitability. And have suggested the following three changes to implement to ensure your team is more inclusive

  • Talent should feel empowered to disclose their ethnicity, create a culture where this is possible.
  • Change should be implemented top down. Ensure diversity and inclusion at all levels and all stages of the recruitment, retention and progression process.
  • Start conversations about race at work.

As Mathew Fell, CBI Chief Uk Policy Director says, ‘‘the CBI is committed to helping companies learn from each other and make progress – until UK business is truly representative of the society it serves.’’

Tools to address your business’s gender pay gap as recommended by the CBI

Data from the CBI shows that solving the gender pay gap would result in an increase in UK GDP by £150 billion by 2025, getting 840, 000 more women into the workplace.

The CBI guide for members only called Mind the Gap lays out four key ways to aid your business to implement tools so workplaces are not relying on just fifty percent of the population

  • Collect data to find and demolish barriers that women face in the workplace.
  • Think how your company can attract, recruit and ensure progression of female talent.
  • Be open and transparent with regards to communicating actions taken to close this gap.

Time to advance

A new guide from the CBI called Time to Advance lays out real life case studies of various businesses and how they have managed to improve their diversity and inclusion strategies. They have moved further than gender and race to other protected characteristics such as age and disability. The guide explains, to members only, further how:

  • By focusing on diversity and inclusion this will lead to a more inclusive economy. If businesses invest in attracting and retaining talent, this in turn leads to increased productivity and performance. The guide also touches on progress achieved so far.
  • Changes to put in place to remove barriers to the hiring of talent with a disability and keeping them in their roles.
  • The benefits of diversity in age of the talent you hire.
  • How to foster an inclusive culture in the workplace.
  • Enhancing social mobility.

Real life case studies of D&I

Sodexo is a company that delivers food and facility management services across the UK and Ireland. Their Chair Sean Haley says their saying at their company is ‘‘you have to bake it in not bolt it on.’’ This is exactly the approach they have taken with their D&I strategy.

At Sodexo they see themself as an employer that offers dedicated support to their talent to reduce sickness and increase retention, be it through the menopause, parenthood or preparing for retirement. Sodexo strives to offer that support, to be an employer of choice. Sean Haley also adds that they need a workforce that reflects the communities and services they actually deliver.’’

Ensuring a more diverse representation in their talent pool means a broader understanding of their customer base. In fact, their Chair goes on to add that they prioritise wanting to support and manage the different generations in their business because with the current skills and labour shortages, talent of any age leaving before their time means younger generations are losing a huge wealth of skills and resources at their fingertips. Businesses should be capitalising on the different generations they employ and empowering talent to unlock their full potential. Improving D&I is a continuous learning curve because ‘‘the market evolves constantly and people’s demands continue to change’’ says Sean Haley.

But change, he also recommends, is not just the role of the one designated HR lead or D&I lead. All leaders within the business need to be on board and truly align and believe in their D&I agenda. Without it ‘‘baked in’’ you run the very real risk of being an unsustainable business is the Chair’s stark advice. His two takeaway tips are:

  • Employee engagement will ensure the D&I strategy is implemented top down and allows your business to drive forward D&I from within, if talent feel empowered to be engaged and take responsibility.
  • Targets. And measure yourself against them. Make them ambitious and note your successes or failings. Data is required to make informed decisions and understand your demographics.

Ebay is an example of another business with inclusivity at the very core. It is a platform that allows anyone with any level of experience to use its accessible platform to run their business. Murray Lambell, eBay’s UK managing Director, comments on how vital the leadership team are in creating a more inclusive workplace. “The role of the most senior teams is to listen, be flexible, and then help deploy the resources those groups need in order to build an environment in which diversity, equality and inclusion is embedded in the way an organisation operates.”

He believes that inclusion brings productivity and it is a moral obligation. It is ingrained in all eBay do from attracting talent, setting the tone and agenda of their company all the way to how they work with their customers. Like Sodexo, eBay also believe in empowering their talent to drive change. Talent will see not only the visible tip of the iceberg issues but those hidden beneath the surface and are able to bring these to senior management. Murray Lambell also added that ‘‘we can only learn from the groups we enable.’’ This is reflected in the Women at eBay group that implemented change in how women on maternity leave are supported back into the workplace.

His final piece of advice is that leading requires good listening skills, and that it is definitely a collaborative process. And listening to those uncomfortable conversations leads to change, internally and externally. One employee raised an issue with regards to disability access to their website and created global waves. Lambell took the conversation onboard, hired a specialist external organisation to investigate and changes immediately actioned. That newly forged partnership was taken to eBay in California where an event with over 500 of eBay’s talent was gathered to further improve the site’s accessibility. Global change due to an issue raised by one person because they saw a barrier to inclusivity and felt empowered to raise it.

There is definitely a lot more to be done to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and this article only touches on it briefly. But as Lambell says the topic is vital and a constant learning process, clumsy and mistakes will be made. But we have to learn from them. Move on and get better. Always listening.

Written by Astriid volunteer Sabeeha Kassam

Here at Astriid, we match talented people with long-term illnesses with meaningful employment opportunities. We work with employers to make sure that they can meet individuals’ needs, and help candidates through all stages of their ‘work ready’ journey. You can find out more and sign up as a candidate or an employer by visiting our website!