Unfortunately, many spheres of society still struggle with the meaning of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity – and it’s especially prominent in the workplace.
In a survey of more than 5,000 Britons, a staggering 65% of all ethnic minority participants experienced racial harassment in their workplace in the last five years, while 49% said they had been treated unfairly by their employer because of their race.
And in a separate survey of 3000 Britons, 57% of people from BAME groups felt they had to work harder to succeed in Britain because of their ethnicity, and 40% feel they earn less, or experience worse employment prospects, for the same reason.
These results are extremely concerning, considering that diversity should be especially celebrated and encouraged within the workplace. A number of studies have proven that diversity accelerates creativity and innovation, improves recruitment and retention of talent, and even boosts productivity. But let’s not forget that the benefits of diversity shouldn’t be the reason for its implementation/encouragement in the workplace, organisations should be recruiting and retaining talent based on skill and experience and should be creating equal opportunities for all.
It’s the responsibility of all organisations to learn and identify areas they can improve upon when it comes to diversity, inclusion and equality, and educate their workforce about the importance of it. Real change begins with education.
5 Ways to Educate your Employees on Diversity
Demonstrate your Values
It’s difficult to educate and gain the support of your workforce if key areas within your organisation fail to promote or align with the message and lesson you’re trying to get across. If diversity is low or non-existent in your leadership and top management teams, for example, educating your workforce on the importance of diversity will prove difficult. If you’re not demonstrating your values through the people you recruit and promote, you’ll struggle with implementing your diversity and inclusion strategies, and may even struggle to avoid sensitive incidents’.
Dismantle Unconscious Bias
Organisations shouldn’t have to try to be diverse; diversity should be ‘easy’ if their recruitment, retainment and promotion of talent is based on just that – talent. Unfortunately, though, it’s come to light that many organisations (and other areas of society) have been guilty of unconscious bias and are now being forced to quickly review and refine their approach to areas such as recruitment, amongst others. In this case, it’s crucial that teams susceptible to unconscious bias – or who are responsible for people-centric operations such as HR personnel, are trained to dismantle unconscious bias. Beyond this, it’s important they’re educated on the need and importance of diversity in the workplace, and their social responsibility to judge individuals based on their value-adding characteristics alone; such as skillset and expertise, experience, and cultural fit.
Train those in People-Centric Positions First
It’s important for the entire organisation to learn and understand the importance of diversity in the workplace, but those in people-centric positions such as leaders, management and HR personnel should be educated/trained first. This will accelerate the creation of diverse teams, and once again, help you to demonstrate your values for the rest of the organisation to acknowledge and learn from.
Celebrating diversity helps to create a particular workplace culture: one where diversity and inclusion are encouraged and valued. It works as a great educational ‘tool’, not only to demonstrate your values as an organisation but for people to learn from each other through communication and perhaps even demonstration. Beyond this, celebrating diversity makes every single person, regardless of race, culture or background, feel valued and acknowledged.
If you’re serious about being better; driving change, creating equal opportunity in your workplace and changing society, you need to remain proactive in the fight. Training is not a once-off initiative, and verbally expressing your views and values is not enough either.
Educating yourself on your people, their needs, your shortfalls and finding ways to improve is a full-time commitment. Training the workforce should also be consistent and the approach to training should be refined regularly based on what you learn. Addressing discrimination and unconscious bias is yet another full-time commitment – it should not be forgotten about – it should be part of your core priorities as an organisation.