Diversity and inclusion in the workplace make not only ethical but also business sense, according to McKinsey research. However, SMEs still struggle with creating a diverse work environment, with women and minorities often underrepresented and discrimination and exclusion prevalent. We explain why having a diversity and inclusion policy is crucial. We also give you some tips on how to implement a successful diversity policy.
Diversity and Inclusion
To begin with, diversity refers to differences between people, both visible and invisible. Visible differences can include factors such as skin colour, gender and age. Invisible differences involve religion, culture, norms, values and personality traits. Having a workforce that is a mix of all these differences creates a diverse team.
Inclusion refers to how we deal with this mix of differences and decides who can or cannot be involved and be part of decision-making. In other words, it is about how people behave towards each other.
For SMEs, diversity and inclusion is even more important than for larger organizations because they often have stronger ties to the community and are more dependent on local customers and employees. Furthermore, a good D&I policy ensures:
- Being 2 to 3 times more likely to achieve high customer satisfaction than organizations that do not.
- Having higher employee engagement and satisfaction, which can lead to lower employee turnover and higher productivity.
- Being an attractive employer, which also allows a company to attract and retain more talent.
- Being a significant contributor to corporate social responsibility, allowing SMEs to contribute to the development of a better and more just society.
- Being 33% more likely to achieve better financial results than their less diverse counterparts.
A number of SMEs are already successful in promoting diversity and inclusion. For example, Dutch company Tony’s Chocolonely, known for its 100% slave-free cocoa chain, recently developed a diversity and inclusion strategy to promote its corporate culture. The company has appointed a Diversity & Inclusion Officer to implement this strategy.
Unilever also previously set a target of having a workforce half female by 2020. This policy has led to positive results, including increased employee engagement and satisfaction.
But an effective D&I policy involves more than appointing a Diversity & Inclusion Officer. It starts with creating awareness within the organisation. This is followed by developing an actual policy. This is possible by implementing the following practical tips:
- Formulate a mission statement that increases employee engagement and promotes a culture where everyone is encouraged to contribute to decision-making.
- Implement a recruitment process that ensures a universal candidate pool, for example by posting vacancies on different platforms and forming a diverse recruitment committee.
- Ensure mixed management by hiring managers from different backgrounds and creating an inclusive culture where everyone is encouraged to contribute to decision-making.
- Organise training and workshops for employees to create awareness about different perspectives and learn to deal with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
- Create an inclusive workplace by ensuring physical and social accessibility for employees from different backgrounds and experiences, such as providing flexibility in working hours and providing space for personal expression.
- Use universal language in all communications, also in job postings and policy documents, to ensure that all employees feel welcomed and represented.
- Develop partnerships and collaborations with organisations committed to diversity and inclusion to learn from their experiences and expertise and build a wider community.
- Hold regular surveys and evaluations to measure the progress of D&I efforts and to understand employees’ experiences and perspectives.
Implementing these practical tips will help you create a working environment that respects differences. A working environment where everyone feels valued and where diversity is embraced as a source of innovation and growth.
At Eevery, we believe that promoting inclusion and diversity within the workplace is essential to the success of SMEs. Our mission is to help SMEs function as well as possible and prepare them for the future. Finding and retaining suitable employees is an important prerequisite for this.
Therefore, we offer concrete points of improvement to create the most attractive atmosphere possible for your (future) staff. Some of these points of improvement relate to formulating a diversity and inclusion policy.
With these improvements, together we not only strengthen your business but also contribute to a better society.
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