Over the last year, we have all been fed a huge amount of information around equality, diversity & inclusion (ED&I), which in the context of ‘work’, has been both important and needed to evidence the strong business case for prioritising ED&I.
There is a risk, however, that the sheer volume of articles, acronyms, blogs, reports, statistics, studies, and social media posts, could be overwhelming and result in information overload, causing procrastination, a fear of not retaining enough knowledge and comparing your organisation to others.
Although there is a need for this information to be shared, it is fair to say that most organisations have now been exposed to enough compelling evidence of reasons why embracing ED&I will result in significant benefits and positive outcomes. That is why it is time to do a little less reading and a little more doing.
So where do you begin with all this information?
Firstly, stop comparing - every organisation is at a different stage of its ED&I journey. Of course, you can learn from others and share best practice, but no two organisations are the same and your plan needs to reflect where you are.
Here are our seven back-to-basics tips to kick off your diversity and inclusion strategy.
1. Understand the law and ED&I in practical terms
Start by understanding the basics, the law and ED&I in practical terms. Consider the following to help you with this:
- Set definitions for diversity and inclusion relevant to your organisation.
- Ensure there is sufficient access to and understanding of the Equality Act within your organisation.
- Not sure what a term means? Here you can find an A-Z glossary of key ED&I words, acronyms and abbreviations.
- Develop a library of trusted sources of information relating to ED&I and try to stick with reviewing this, rather than dipping into too many different sources.
2. Curiosity and learning
Consider some of the following:
- Do you already have relevant ED&I training in place and if so, do you ensure it is refreshed regularly and offered to all staff, including it as part of the onboarding process?
- Review all current in-house training with inclusivity in mind, this may result in changes to the language used, training dates offered and different methods of delivering the training.
- Do you have ED&I working/steering groups, or shared learning meetings?
- Have you got any ED&I committees set up to facilitate managing some of the required change?
- Does the leadership team need more tailored training and support with ED&I to build their confidence and understanding?
3. Review your policies and processes
Policies and processes form the structural framework that supports an inclusive culture within an organisation. These policies demonstrate the commitment an organisation has made to ED&I and when done well, results in accountability and a working environment where employees and volunteers feel empowered and heard.
Some policies to consider could be:
- Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment & Selection
- Professional Development & Learning
- Reasonable Adjustment
- Flexible Working
- Sickness & Absence
- Family Friendly
Recruitment is a process and as such, is often one of the first and most practical places to start putting your strategy into action.
This is why at TPP we compiled our Inclusive Recruitment Guide in partnership with Inclusive Employers. This useful guide provides advice and practical steps that can be taken to adopt an inclusive recruitment process, resulting in a more diverse applicant pool, whilst attempting to reduce or eliminate unconscious bias from the process every step of the way. The stages of the recruitment process to consider are:
- Plan & prepare
- Attract and source the widest candidate pool
- Application process
- Interview and offer process
- Feedback and review
Consider what external and internal barriers there are and the challenges your organisation could face, building ways in which you could overcome these into your strategy.
You could include:
- Taking positive action where needed to reach a diversity target.
- Investing in resources to communicate and train employees.
- Collaborating with external partners such as Inclusive Employers.
In our recent ED&I survey of non-profit organisations, 36% did not report or measure their ED&I. It is essential that your strategy includes measuring and reporting because without this you will not be able to see if your strategy is resulting in positive change or where further improvements and learning is required.
5. Collect equality and diversity data
Building trust is essential; you need to ensure that employees are engaged and understand the importance of gathering this information. Consider the following points:
- Decide what data you are going to collect and why - only collect the data you need.
- Ensure it is optional at all times and that there are ‘prefer not to say’ options for all questions.
- Consider how you will collect and store this information.
- Build a communication plan that explains why this data matters and how it will be used to their benefit.
- Consider different methods of data collections for employees who may not be office/desk-based for example.
6. Get leaders involved
Reports have shown that you need genuine and committed ‘buy-in’ from senior leaders to make any real progress so ensure board members and senior management are all involved in the early stages of the strategy and fully supportive of the plan.
Take time to educate and inform at every opportunity, dispelling any misconceptions and addressing any concerns about change. Leaders and managers who are equipped with the knowledge, confidence and resources, will be more effective in supporting the strategy.
You will not be able to achieve this alone and it isn’t as simple as rolling it out in a company newsletter or team meeting. You should carefully consider how you can inject the strategy into your wider business plan and communicate your strategy regularly, with particular importance on ensuring all hiring managers understand the law, terms, and your organisational aims relevant to ED&I.
Here are some final takeaway tips to help you get started:
- Involve all staff, from new hires to board members.
- Create a channel for all ED&I communication.
- Consider internal shared learning sessions or ED&I committees and working groups to bring the strategy to life.
- Visually show your company’s commitment to ED&I, both online and offline.
- Make sure that you backup your communication of the strategy with action and outcome.
We believe that taking some action is better than none and breaking it down into small manageable steps and projects is feasible for all. If the intention is there, we can be Altogether Better!