9 steps to a more inclusive workplace next year

Global diversity, equity and inclusion experts outline nine reminders for inclusive leaders

Business leaders are starting to take diversity and inclusion seriously, but as individuals continue to be marginalised in the workplace, what can they do better for next year?

Below are nine pointers from global diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) experts that they think will unlock diverse talent and generate inclusivity in 2022.

1. Diversity without inclusion is ineffective

Racial justice facilitator Raggi Kotak says: “Come from an intersectional perspective so that you recognise the complexities. Be willing to challenge the traditional power structures to create more equitable solutions. Focus on what it really means for different groups to feel like they belong and show everyone that they are welcome and valued. Diversity in terms of numbers without inclusion, is ineffective and potentially damaging.”

2. Don’t decide what people need on their behalf

Jane Hatton, CEO of Evenbreak says: “Involve the groups of people you want to include in the decision-making process. Don’t ‘silo’ different protected characteristics, but base the DE&I strategy on intersectionality. People don’t fit neatly into just one box. Also, ensure the DE&I strategy carries as much weight as the business and financial plans. It needs to be embedded in the overall business strategy, not just a ‘bolt-on’ afterthought.”

3. Shift inclusion to a business strategic agenda

Suzie Lewis, Founder and MD of Transform for Value says: “Look at the holistic system and processes – are the processes designed to reflect your ambition to be inclusive, or not? Make it tangible: what you are measuring, why are you measuring it and how you are making it visible to all employees so that they can take responsibility for nudging the system towards inclusion too. It is about changing the culture and the environment, not the people.”

4. Ensure clarity and purposeful measurement

Executive coach and co-founder of Lanellsohn, Edward Nelson says: “Do an equity audit so you actually know where the problems lie in your organisation so you can seek and activate profoundly effective solutions. C-suite buy-in, clarity on what DE&I means to that organisation and how you measure it are vital.”

5. Self-awareness is paramount

COO of Serenity in Leadership, Roxy Finlayson says: “Self-awareness needs to start with the most senior and influential in the business. We all have biases, unconscious and conscious, but without self-awareness, we can succumb to these biases. Self-awareness means knowing our strengths and weaknesses and values, which are needed for focused and intentional change on an individual level. After understanding that we can become more effective at tackling inequalities or discrimination as a collective.”

6. Leaders need to ‘role model’

This is to set the tone of a work environment, according to Linda Crockett from The Canadian Institute of Workplace Bullying Resources who said: “Every business must have a confident, competent, cohesive leadership team that follows through consistently on policies and procedures to address prevention, intervention, and repair options in all areas of DE&I. Leaders need to consistently role-model their commitment to ethical practises and to building a psychologically safe work environment.”

7. DE&I must be embedded everywhere

This includes in the company’s processes, values, and management according to Leadership and Organisational Development specialist, James Peal: “In order to embed, we must be continually communicating with underrepresented groups to validate and adjust action plans. We must hold leaders accountable for living the DE&I vision and ask for evidence that they are making progress and changes. We must create the environment for every leader to be profoundly touched and transformed by DE&I so they can be a sustaining beacon for their organisation.”

8. We need openness and transparency

DE&I facilitator, speaker and coach, Gamal Turawa says: “The most important components for a successful DE&I strategy are openness and transparency, regular evaluation and external scrutiny and support and a clear vision of the path to follow and why.”

9. Recognise that we bring our whole selves to the workplace

Stacy Moore, Chartered Educational Psychologist and Director of Inner Circles Educational Psychology, says “organisations need to stop assuming that because employees have a parent or carer role that they are incapable or unlikely to want to excel professionally and should stop penalising them for having children. We need to work to create a culture of healthy respect for employees’ family choices, providing practical and psychological support where necessary, to enable and support them during one of the toughest life transitions, parenthood.”

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