For some years, the workplace has resembled a battleground for many social justice issues including, the gender pay gap, sexual orientation discrimination, in addition to racial discrimination. When vocalizing about taking a stand against discrimination and achieving equality, diversity, and inclusivity, what exactly does it mean in the context of the workplace? To discuss this further, it is important to define these three terms to help us understand them in-depth.
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion: What are they?
Equality, diversity, and inclusion are terms that often go hand in hand however, they are different from one another. It is important to remember that these three terms are topics relevant for all workplaces, regardless of the number of employees.
Equality is about making sure that every person has an equal opportunity to thrive in their lives and abilities. It is also the thought that people should not have poorer life prospects because of where they are from, what they believe, or if they have a disability.
Diversity is about acknowledging the difference. It is the practice of including people from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds as well as different genders, and being aware of the benefits of having a range of viewpoints which is representative of a company’s customers.
Inclusion refers to people feeling valued at work. In an inclusive workplace, everyone feels like they belong without the need to adjust, that their input matters and they can perform to their full potential, despite their background, identity, or circumstances. There are also fair policies and practices to facilitate a diverse range of people to work together efficiently.
(Differently, inclusion in today’s COVID-19 adapted world can also consist of working as part of a team from home using video software such as Microsoft teams so all team members feel included).
Why are Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion important?
In 2010, the UK government introduced the Equality Act which protects individuals against being treated unfairly. The nine ‘protected characteristics’ embedded in this law mean that you cannot discriminate against a person base on any of these traits. This includes:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
In the workplace, discrimination is a very serious offense. It comes in two forms, direct or indirect, and can be conscious discrimination or unconscious discrimination.
There is a sense of duty from businesses to respect and value all forms of these different characteristics, which permits business teams to be more innovative. Promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace is important as it can help keep employees happy and motivated, make businesses more successful, attract and keep good staff, and better serve a diverse range of customers.
What are the benefits?
Employing the best talent – Research on the psychological contract has revealed that people want to work for employers with good employment practices, in addition to feeling valued at work. Creating open and inclusive workplace cultures will ensure individuals feel valued, respect among colleagues is present, and contributions are appreciated.
Promotes innovation – According to a Deloitte report, diverse organizations have displayed improved innovation and creativity in their decisions and solutions. It has voices and thoughts from different backgrounds which get an equal opportunity, resulting in a better scope for new learning and fresh perspectives in every area of business.
Adds new skills to the team – Research has shown that a diverse team makes better decisions 87% of the time. A team with people from different backgrounds will always have a range of skills, mindsets, and approaches towards work. For instance, a new entrant from Gen-Z can bring in better technological understanding. A team that values differences can thrive in all qualities and guarantee progress.
Market competitiveness – diverse workers can assist in informing the advancement of a product/service, as well as open new market opportunities, and expand a company’s customer base. This can only work if individuals have a voice in the organization, permitting their various perspectives to be heard.
Regardless of our identity, background, or situation, every person is entitled to the chance to develop their skills and talents to the max, in a safe, supportive, and inclusive work environment. All levels of management should regard diversity, inclusion, and equality as important and aim to promote diversity and inclusion and remove the barriers.
Written by Keisha Parry