Diversity and inclusion strategies are essential for any forward thinking business to implement.
Businesses that recognise the importance of diversion and inclusivity can look forward to improved employee satisfaction, higher retention rates and the ability to attract top talent.
The big question is, how do you ensure diversity and inclusion in your workplace? We’re about to give you top strategies that you can implement in your workplace.
Why is a diversity and inclusion strategy so important?
Throughout history, people have fought for equal rights. From the suffragettes to the Disabled Persons Employment Act of 1944 and today’s Equality Act (2010), we’ve seen many changes that ultimately protect all individuals today across communities that have faced discrimination and oppression.
However, diversity and inclusion aren’t guaranteed in every workplace, so developing a strategy is essential. Given that almost half (47%) of UK employers don’t have a D&I strategy in place, despite the benefits, putting one in place will set you ahead of your competition.
And when employees trust their employer’s commitment to DE&I, their engagement can increase by 20% and the likelihood they will leave their organisation can decrease by 87%.
Making DE&I strategy not only the right thing to do, but essential for business progress.
Diversity and inclusion strategies ensure:
1. A positive company culture
Creating a positive company culture isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. According to Workplace Insight, 57% of people prioritise company culture over salary, which means every HR department needs to ensure employees feel supported and valued.
2. Happy employees
When you have an inclusion and diversity strategy, you ensure your employees feel safe and secure. Individuals from diverse backgrounds will be valued, and it also prevents bullying.
Considering that SME Loans revealed that 23% of adults suffer bullying in the workplace, it’s clear how solid policies can make a difference.
3. Diversity breeds creativity
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one – and many people from different backgrounds mean you have a highly creative workforce.
Different life experiences often mean people have unique perspectives of ideas and can contribute positively to business growth.
What do D&I strategies get wrong?
Despite the growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion, many organisations struggle to develop effective strategies. One common mistake is treating diversity and inclusion as a checkbox exercise rather than a long-term commitment.
Merely hiring diverse employees or implementing tokenistic initiatives is not enough. True inclusion requires creating an environment where everyone feels respected and valued and has equal growth opportunities.
This is where it’s important to understand the difference between diversity and inclusion – luckily we’ve covered that in our article here.
Unfortunately, despite massive changes over the past decades, there is still inequality in the workplace, and companies might not even notice their biases.
For example, research shows that Asian Americans are the most unlikely group to receive a promotion to management level in the US, and research by McKinsey indicates that African Americans are still likely to experience discrimination in the workplace.
A lack of accountability can also hold a company back, especially when its leaders don’t prioritise diversity and inclusion initiatives, because they’ll quickly lose momentum and fail to bring about meaningful change.
Effective diversity and inclusion strategies
So, now you know more about D&I strategies and why they’re so important, it’s time to look at how you can develop the right plans for your business and ensure you give your employees the support they deserve.
1. Implement mentoring
One effective strategy is establishing mentoring programs for D&I that pair individuals from underrepresented groups with experienced employees who can provide guidance, support, and career advice.
Mentoring programs create opportunities for knowledge transfer, skill development, and networking, helping individuals overcome barriers and advance in their careers.
They’re also highly popular with forward-thinking companies that want to create a strong culture of support and inclusivity.
Mentoring is proven highly effective for building inclusive cultures and reverse mentoring in particular can be transformative for improving cultural competency in your organisation.
2. Create sponsorship opportunities
Sponsorship goes beyond mentoring by providing active advocacy and support to individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. Sponsors use their influence and networks to promote their mentees, champion their accomplishments, and open doors to new opportunities.
By creating sponsorship programs, organisations can empower talented individuals to rise through the ranks and bridge the representation gap at leadership levels.
3. Start employee resource groups and networks
Employee resource groups (ERGs) and networks are voluntary, employee-led communities that unite individuals with shared backgrounds, experiences, or interests.
These groups provide a platform for networking, support, and cultural celebration. By fostering a sense of belonging and offering opportunities for personal and professional growth, ERGs contribute to a more inclusive workplace.
According to McKinsey, ERGs are central to inclusivity, so there’s never been a better time to implement one.
4. Hold leaders accountable
Leadership plays a pivotal role in driving diversity and inclusion efforts, and clear expectations should be in place. Whether it’s company owners or stakeholders, leaders should have measurable goals to ensure progress when dealing with D&I policies.
Leaders prioritising diversity and inclusion create a ripple effect throughout the organisation and set the tone for an inclusive culture.
5. Embed D&I into business strategies
To ensure that diversity and inclusion become ingrained in the fabric of an organisation, they must be integrated into the overall business strategy.
Aligning D&I goals with the company’s mission and vision, incorporating diversity considerations in decision-making processes, and integrating diversity and inclusion principles into talent management ensures the company doesn’t exclude anyone.
By combining D&I into the company’s far-reaching mission, organisations can drive change and make inclusivity a core value—as long as its leaders support the strategy.
6. Make sure D&I is everyone’s business
Creating an inclusive culture is not the HR department’s or diversity officers’ sole responsibility because it requires a collective effort from every individual within the organisation.
Companies should promote awareness and education about diversity and inclusion topics, encourage open dialogue, and provide resources and training to equip employees with the knowledge and skills to contribute to an inclusive environment.
When diversity and inclusion become everyone’s business, organisations can foster a sense of belonging and create a thriving and equitable workplace.
In 2023 and beyond, organisations must prioritise diversity and inclusion to remain competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing world.
D&I strategies, such as mentoring programs, sponsorship opportunities, employee resource groups, and accountability measures, create an environment where diversity is celebrated, inclusion is embraced, and everyone has equal opportunities to succeed.
If you want to enhance your D&I strategy, why not get started today with our top-rated mentoring software and give your team the support they need to thrive?