October 19, 2016

How can HR maintain the workplace inclusive and diverse?

The importance of inclusive workplaces is by no means a new topic in business circles. However, it has certainly moved up the news agenda since the Brexit referendum. So much so that the CBI has just issued a new report called ‘Time for Action: the business case for inclusive workplaces’.

In the report, the CBI talks about the strong need for inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. And it makes it clear that this need is not simply a moral imperative, but also a business imperative. “An inclusive workplace encourages diversity and empowers everyone to perform at their best”, says the report. That diversity covers the whole spectrum – race, gender, sexuality, age, social background, physical and mental ability.

It’s not the first time that the CBI has created a report on this topic. Eight years ago it published ‘Talent not tokenism’, in conjunction with the Trades Union Congress and Equality and Human Rights Commission. That report demonstrated the case for improved productivity, improved employee satisfaction, improved retention and recruitment, all of a direct result of more diversity in the workplace.

If anything, the need for more diversity is even stronger now than it was eight years ago. Consider the statistics, as highlighted by the CBI in its report:

– only one in four businesses are confident that they will have access the highly skilled employees they will need in the future. What will help them plug that skills gap? Being able to dap into a diverse pool of talent. Source: a CBI/Pearson 2016 survey
– increasing female employment and productivity to the levels of men is estimated to be worth 35% of GDP. Source: Department of Economics, Umea University, Sweden
– Organisations with the highest levels of gender and ethnic diversity are 15% and 35% respectively more likely to outperform their rivals. Source: McKinsey report

And that’s not all. Inclusive and diverse workplaces are much more likely to engender higher individual performance because employees are more able to innovate (+83%) and are more engaged (+101%), according to Deloitte research from 2013.

The report includes four chapters. They are:
Chapter 1. A renewed focus on people is needed to boost productivity and inclusion
Chapter 2. Leadership matters and must be backed up by action
Chapter 3. Attracting the right people gives businesses a long-term competitive advantage
Chapter 4. Inclusive progression gives teams the chance to shine

This is all stuff that HR should be concentrating on, ensuring that their workplace is inclusive and diverse.

At the end of the report, the CBI gives 10 recommendations, what it thinks businesses should be doing to drive inclusivity in the workplace. They include the importance of good employee relations, setting diversity targets, sharing good practice, flexible working practices, name-blind recruitment and competency based assessment, mentoring schemes and partnerships with schools, colleges and universities.

“Great business is all about hiring, developing and leading great people,” says CBI president, Paul Drechsler. “Inclusive workplaces give firms the chance to get ahead of their competitors by making better decisions, through diverse teams which draw on a wider range of ideas and experience. Companies that place inclusion at their heart are better able to secure the skills that their competitors miss out on and better able to keep the people their competitors lose.”

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