I recently came across an article which likened ‘exclusion in the workplace’ to be selected last for team sports at school. Technically you were on a team but deep down you knew you weren't’t wanted.  
For many diverse employees, this is their experience of the workplace. Whether employers are aware of this discrimination or not, it’s clear that inequality is very much alive, and they need to act. 
 
The Equality Act 2010 
The Equality Act 2010 ensures the fair treatment of employees in the workplace regardless of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, maternity, race or religion.  
Despite this many employees report inequality in the workplace as a problem- 
More than 50% of women experience sexual harassment 
46% of LGBTQ opting to not identify themselves for fear of being stereotyped  
27% of employees in their 60’s feel they are treat differently to their colleagues. 
 
How can employers address inequality in the workplace 
To address inequality in the workplace companies, need to create a more inclusive working environment, otherwise these under-valued employees will become demotivated - which can affect the wider team; and eventually they’ll leave the business. They could also share their negative experience with other people which could affect your ability to acquire top talent or customers in the future. And let’s not forget how much it costs to recruit, hire and train new employees. 
 
We love this quote - 
 
“People matter, and we all should have equal opportunity to develop, progress, and be rewarded and recognised at work. Organisations must ensure that their people management practices champion this fundamental principle.” CIPD, 2018 
 
 
Inclusion in the Workplace 
So, what is ‘inclusion’? Inclusion is what marriage is to engagement – it’s the next step. Forbes stated that inclusion in the workplace was the “only scalable way to build diversity within an organisation”. Where diversity in the workplace ensures the fair reflection of people from all walks of life, inclusion focusses on bringing them together and giving them the opportunity to contribute and feel valued. 
 
The promotion and support of diversity starts at the top 
Effective people management should promote and support diversity. Identifying and valuing the unique talents each employee brings to the business is important to its longevity. Research by McKinsey identified that diverse businesses delivered 35% better results than non-diverse businesses. Despite this compelling research senior leaders have failed to grasp the relationship between diversity and performance, and as such feel its too much effort to implement change. 
 
Diversity isn't limited to your workforce  
A factor often overlooked when assessing the viability of inclusion is that diversity isn’t limited to just your workforce. The same diverse characteristics which apply to your workforce also apply to your current and future customers, so it makes sense to utilise the unique insight they offer into wider demographics. Right audience, right message. 
 
Inclusion Best Practice 
An effective inclusion strategy needs to be more than just complying with legislation. Done right, it should add-value to your business and support the well-being of all employees. Your strategy needs to be driven and supported from the top-down, after all every other important business decision is steered by its leaders so this should also warrant the same gravitas. 
 
Engage with your workforce 
It’s important that you engage with your diverse workforce to identify where change can be made. Working towards a shared goal of creating an inclusive working environment will increase the adoption of your various initiatives. And keep an open line of communication for feedback, this will ensure everyone stays motivated and working towards a better outcome. 
 
Inclusion in action 
We’ve touched on unconscious bias and how it can hinder inclusion, so you may find this Harvard test which looks at “thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control” useful when attempting to identify any problem areas and where diversity and inclusion training is required. 
Here’s some examples of inclusion in action, to help get you started: 
• Remove personal information from job applications to eliminate unconscious bias. Applications can be judged on skillset and experience as opposed to diversity. 
• Job adverts should avoid language which implies you’re looking for people from particular demographics such as age groups i.e. “enthusiastic young person”, “looking for 10 years’ experience” 
• Advertise jobs across a variety of platforms to reach a wider audience and avoid unconscious bias. Extending where and how you advertise vacancies will attract a more diverse workforce. 
• As of March 2018, companies with more than 250+ employees are required to report and publish gender pay gaps. Review your salaries and address any discrepancies. 
• Use gender-neutral language in company communications, policies, contracts etc. 
• Ensure everyone is catered to at company events i.e. those who don’t drink should have access to non-alcoholic drinks, specific dietary requirements etc. 
• Acknowledge all religious and cultural holidays celebrated by employees 
• Ensure sanitary ware is available and offer nursing facilities for mothers. 
 
 
It’s important to measure the effectiveness of your inclusion initiatives otherwise you won’t know what’s working and where you need to invest further. And remember change won’t happen overnight, but everything positive you do will go towards creating an inclusive environment. By starting today you’ll be one step closer to reaping the benefits of inclusion for your business. 
 
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