You may think that a diverse workforce is one that comprises of different races but the term also includes different genders, religions, ages, sexual orientations, education and other attributes. Working toward a diverse workforce takes effort but it can be a win-win for businesses, creating a melting pot of fresh and innovative ideas that you may not get from recruiting one type of employee.

What to consider

Diversity in your workforce can help improve public perception of your business and your brand. It can also help with recruitment, particularly with retaining the youngest generation of talent who generally have highest expectations from their employer.
As a leader, you can be a key driver of cultural change, identifying barriers to creating a diverse workforce. It could be your recruitment practices, some employees make take a stereotypical view of certain races, for example. It could be the attitude of some of your workforce and this is where training can help.

What form should the training take?

Training your employees can include unconscious bias, how to confront discrimination, the different types of discrimination and how to become an inclusive leader. It is important to get buy in from senior leadership and an understanding that cultural change takes time and is ongoing.
All employees should be trained to understand and engage with equality, diversity and inclusion. Showing them what acceptable behaviours look like is important. Being alert to unconscious bias is also key, making it clear that harassment and bullying will not be tolerated.
Teambuilding training may be helpful demonstrating that people from a variety of different cultural backgrounds can add a different slant to problem solving as well as coaching for management and personnel who are involved in recruitment.
Ensure that you review your training and reinforce the key points on an ongoing basis. Check your induction of new starters, does it cover your values when it comes to a diverse workforce?
Your managers will be vital in improving diversity in your workforce and training them is key.

Promoting the benefits of a diverse workforce

The benefits of a diverse workforce can include increased creativity, better performance, better brand reputation, better engagement of employees and better retention of them.
Having open communication channels based on open conversations and active listening should be encouraged.
Communicate your diversity policies and practices in different ways – through newsletters, team meetings and include points in other types of training, where relevant.

Handling a complaint of racial discrimination

Ensure that reporting race discrimination is as easy as possible in your organisation. Have your equal opportunities and anti-bullying and harassment policies reviewed recently? Ensure those reporting this type of discrimination are protected and supported and be impartial and fair when it comes to alleged perpetrators.
Even if it has taken time for an issue to be reported, it is important to still take the matter seriously and fully investigate it. If you don’t take it seriously then future problems may not be reported to you and the only way to stamp out this type of behaviour in the workforce is to show that you take a view that it is totally unacceptable.

The importance of your equal opportunities policy and communicating it properly

 An equal opportunities policy is a key document for your organisation but do your managers and employees know what’s in it? Have your new starters read and understood it? It is important to emphasise how seriously you take equality, diversity and inclusion.

For professional help and advice with equality, diversity and inclusion in your workplace contact me at liz.jewer@hrthink.co.uk

Get in touch

Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you need advice about this topic or HR related services HR Think offer.