D&I: whats the big deal?

Written by
Changeboard Team

12 Sep 2013

12 Sep 2013 • by Changeboard Team

Your D&I investment

If your workforce lacks diversity, particularly as you go up the levels, there are two possible reasons for this, says Kate Headley, director at The Clear Company: either minorities aren’t good enough for your business, or there are barriers preventing them from joining your company.

Hopefully, in most cases it’s the latter, but if your business isn’t diversely representative, it’s time to do something about it. As always, the first port of call is securing that all-important buy-in from the business and then getting to grips with what is preventing diverse talent from joining or remaining within your company.

If you haven’t managed to secure D&I investment and are still getting asked the dreaded ‘why bother?’ question, remind your leadership team that there is a commercial driver behind hiring from diverse talent pools. Deborah Dalgleish, diversity manager at law firm Ashurst, reminds us of the benefits for organisations able to access a full range of talent at all levels, drive up creativity and innovation and increase their bottom line through an inclusive culture.

It’s helpful to present the sustainability argument with regards to the changing demographics of the working population. How can your business afford not to embrace D&I in-light of increasing immigration volumes, an aging population and statistics suggesting that 6% of first-class honours degrees are obtained by disabled students? From a future resourcing perspective, if diverse talent is failing to see your company as an attractive employer, you will be disadvantaged.

Engaging the wider business

Gaining the buy-in of decision makers and influencers is crucial, but it’s also important to tackle the views of other colleagues who don’t see the business relevance, look upon D&I as ‘politically correct’ nonsense and take an ‘it doesn’t affect me’ attitude. Morgan Lobb, director, DiversityJobs, stresses that you can be the most diverse business, but if you aren’t inclusive it is counter-productive.

Top tips to promote inclusion

  • Understand your employees’ attitudes and feelings towards D&I before attempting to influence them
  • Facilitate internal networks (face-to-face or online) to promote inclusion and learn from your minority groups
  • Be honest – if you’ve previously made mistakes around D&I, be open about it and unite with employees to improve your business together
  • Weave D&I communication into the business to prevent employees feeling bombarded with the message
  • Call upon your D&I ambassadors to ‘tell the story’ to their peers, informal conversations are generally the most powerful