According to a recent study by Indeed, 66% of employees in Australia think “diversity and inclusion” means treating everyone equally. This isn’t necessarily accurate.
There’s a key difference between equality and equity. While they’re both related to fairness, equality is treating everyone the same regardless of circumstances, whereas equity goes one step further by supporting people differently based on their needs. Organisations need to strive for the latter. Here’s a simple illustration to help you understand the concept better:
Looking to start a dialogue in your workplace about diversity and inclusion? In this article we’ve covered best practices, as well as ways to track and visualise diversity effectively.
1. Understanding diversity and inclusion
Let’s start with some definitions:
- Diversity refers to characteristics that make each individual unique
- Inclusion is about supporting employees and making them feel valued, trusted and safe
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) shouldn’t be seen as a HR initiative, rather as a business strategy that is driven by HR. While hiring people from diverse backgrounds is the natural first step, the key to retaining them is by creating a culture where everyone feels heard. In the long run, one doesn’t work without the other.
Top 3 benefits of a having a diverse and inclusive workplace:
- Employees feel more motivated & engaged: When your employees feel comfortable & safe, it ignites a sense of belonging that helps retain employees in the long run.
- Increased creativity: Needless to say, the more diverse your team, the more diverse your brainstorming session. With each person bringing their own unique perspectives to the same problem, you’re more likely to get a broader set of creative solutions. A report by Deloitte also stated that when employees feel included, innovation increases by 83%.
- Better brand reputation: Promoting D&I in your hiring practices will ultimately lead to generating goodwill within your industry. This boost to your brand name makes becoming an equal opportunity employer a no brainer
Remember, hiring more diverse employees doesn’t automatically improve the organisation’s productivity and creativity. It really depends on how they harness diversity in the workplace, and whether the organisation is willing to reshape their hierarchy e.g. giving minorities a seat in the leadership team.
2. How to track and visualise diversity in the workplace
a. Diversity balance tracking on dashboards
Dashboards enable managers to see their whole organisation in a single view. By customising dashboards based on KPIs, it becomes easy to keep your finger on the pulse for diversity metrics such as gender ratio, ethnic origins, age, etc. By reviewing these regularly, management can make data-driven decisions more effectively.
b. Diversity charts to measure KPIs
The dashboard gives a great overview of the organisation, but if you’d like to drill down a few levels deeper then org charts can be very helpful. Here’s an example of a gender chart used by one of our customers.
The chart uses visualisation rules to show male (green) vs female (purple) in each department and the slider on the left highlights women to men split in red. You can move the slider depending on the gender ratio your organisation wants to achieve – making it easier for the management team to make decisions based on your real-time HR data. This chart can be customised to display any diversity metric that’s relevant to your organisation.
c. Restructuring based on diversity goals
Org design tools allow you to create simulations and change your organisation structure without affecting the original hierarchy. This lets you create multiple “what-if scenarios” and see how each change impacts your organisation as a whole. It’s a great way to redesign teams to achieve your diversity goals.
3. Best practices to create an inclusive culture
- Communicate and educate: Create a safe space to have an open conversation about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Let your employees know that you are open to listening and understanding their individual needs. Don’t just focus on making changes to your policy without actually working towards it.
- Create a culture of ally ship: According to Forbes, ally ship is about supporting others, holding ourselves liable when mistakes are made and creating a more inclusive environment. This can be done in many ways, including becoming a champion for the underrepresented employees using inclusive language and calling out inappropriate behaviour.
- Make everyone accountable: While it’s certainly effective to have the leadership team talk openly about diversity and inclusion, they shouldn’t be the only ones held accountable to promote it.
Everyone in the organisation should be equally responsible and need to look for ways to co-create and bring change in the organisation. An example might be asking your employees to brainstorm ideas to policy changes, training requirements, pathways to support employees’ different needs etc.
- Look for inspiration in the right places: If you’re an SME, chances are your budget wouldn’t be as big as the larger enterprises. Many people tend to look at Google or other big companies for best practices. While they have done a good job at celebrating diversity, their practices may be difficult to replicate because smaller companies don’t have the same amount of resources available to them. A good starting point for smaller businesses is engaging in D&I networks and groups to discuss your own unique situations. This provides the perfect opportunity to learn from other firms and to discover how you can implement similar initiatives in your organisation.
- Don’t simply set targets, aim to change mindsets: Setting diversity targets can be easy but also ineffective. According to Harvard Business Review, when organisations make it compulsory to include diverse employees, it can quickly become counter-productive as there are no initiatives to make them feel included, which in turn can lead to lower morale. A better way to effectively implement D&I initiatives is by changing employees’ mindsets and making it voluntary to participate in diversity conversations. While this can take more time, it will certainly be more effective in the long run.
If you’re looking to track, measure and visualise diversity and inclusion in your organisation, chat with our friendly team. Our Melbourne-based team is always happy to help!