In recent years, diversity and equality have become a major trend for businesses keen on improving their workplace culture. In our previous blog we talked about legislation and policies that can be put in place.
However, here we want to discuss workplace culture and what happens after those policies are put in place.
What Are Diversity and Equality in the Workplace?
Diversity in the workplace is the practice of inclusion: Including people who are different from one another. Whether it be by race, gender, age, or any other of the protected characteristics. Diversity can manifest itself in different ways, but the key thing to take away is that it is about celebrating differences.
Every business must have a comprehensive equality policy in place. But, when talking about equality in the workplace, there is a distinction to be made between “Equality of Opportunity” and “Equality of Outcome”.
Equality of Opportunity
“Equality of Opportunity” refers to opportunities made available to the widest range of people.
Whether it be university admissions or job listings, equality of opportunity aims to guarantee opportunities for all strata, rewarding successful applicants regardless of characteristics.
Equality of Outcome
“Equality of Outcome” refers to certain results given to representative numbers of people.
Whether it is to increase underrepresented groups within a field or profession, it aims to balance things based on certain characteristics.
Advantages and Disadvantages
An equal opportunities employer will see a wider range of applicants. That doesn’t mean you have to hire anyone! Although making the opportunity available to people from all backgrounds and experience levels can’t hurt.
Actually, this is advantageous to the applicants and to the employer! As it instils trust that every applicant is welcome and that those selected are right for the position.
An employer who is interested in equality of outcome may be looking to address certain imbalances within their workforce – representing demographically accurate numbers of certain groups within the workplace or a certain position. For example, an unequal number of women in managerial positions.
Is That Legal?
Well, in the UK, ensuring equality of opportunity is imperative. It is something all businesses should strive for, as it creates a high-trust environment for employees and clients.
On the other hand, ensuring equality of outcome is certainly not a legal imperative and may even qualify as discriminative.
What is a high-trust work culture?
A high-trust work culture is one with great importance placed on teamwork. So, facilitating that trust within your working environment is important to team building.
High-trust businesses retain employees longer, are more productive, and collaborate more efficiently than low-trust companies.
Avoiding the Echo Chamber
One of the ways to help your business grow, is to encourage different perspectives.
Imagine your employees agreeing with you non-stop. Sounds fun, right? Well, while agreeableness makes for a pleasant working environment, it can lead to stagnation and overall complacency. It can be disastrous for company growth as well as for helping you make those complex managerial decisions.
Every business must find a balanced approach. Every employee wants to know that their expertise is valued, and no company will progress without some fine tuning. Therefore, encouraging open and honest discussions from a diverse group can help highlight concerns within your business and keep everyone responsible.
Encouraging this discussion may also persuade agreeable employees to raise invaluable insights they would have otherwise kept to themselves.
This leads us on to our next point. Everyone can tell the difference between someone who’s simply “Doing their job” and someone who is engaged in their work.
And we all know that proactive participation from employees is a huge part of what drives businesses forward.
Creating a diverse team while fostering a high-trust culture increases productivity and employee retention. Participation from a diverse team may lead to new business opportunities, may broaden your demographic, and may even help you reach a wider audience.
It is important to listen to employees on concerns that affect them; Especially if it regards one of the protected characteristics.
For example, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace are well documented. Listening to complaints and enacting change within your environment can help facilitate a culture change. This will also help increase participation, productivity, and satisfaction in the process.
It’s also important to remember that no single person speaks for an entire community.
Transparency and Trust
Lastly, as your company grows, so does the likelihood of your company having a public transparency policy. Publishing figures and demonstrating efforts to encourage and increase representation in applicants can help create an appealing employer profile. This attracts new applicants and helps retain current employees.
Listen to your team. Increase the support for diverse opinions and perspectives. Facilitate an open and honest environment, where employees of all backgrounds feel trusted, valued, and respected.
Demonstrate an effort to encourage diverse applicants.
Be as transparent as possible.
Encourage open discussion.
Listen to your employees.
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