February 28, 2020

Diversity and Inclusion: Practical lessons

Pioneering New Approaches to diversity, equality and inclusion

Workplace diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace best practice and lessons learned report.

We wanted to address a problem that others would be happy to discuss regardless of their position, progress and direction. A problem that had enough time to surface, manifest itself and impact a wide demographic of people in the workplace. A problem that has been out there a long time but one that has not been adequately solved. A problem that felt right to share in terms experiences, scars and lessons, where we can all share our hindsight so that it can inform` our future. It was a problem that kept coming up again and again within both our community and our clients.

It was the ‘how’ of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

In keeping with the Practicus ethos we were keen to go beyond the theory and into the practical application – using the hindsight of those who have been progressing diversity and inclusion practice for many years.

To do this, we brought together 20 HR leaders from across industry to a workshop event – to share and understand the challenges organisations are facing, and to share positive examples of what good looks like – led with the aid of four expert chairs who specialise in diversity and inclusion best practice.

How can you raise awareness of diversity equality and inclusion?

Useful advice given by our expert panel included:

“Until very recently, I’ve had to deliver everything from a £0 budget. I expect many of you have so don’t be disheartened. A good place to start in unlocking support is listening to colleagues, write down their stories. That’s pretty much free and not much time needed. I put those stories up around a room for the leadership team to look at but I didn’t say they were stories from people in their business and asked them what they thought of each story. I then revealed at the end that they were stories from their own staff. They were quite shocked. I then told them what it would have cost the company if those members of staff had taken legal action, adding up to well over £1m. That’s easy enough to calculate and it gets the message across to any leader. Leaders often haven’t worked in their own business so it helps to overcome that leadership detachment.”

“I agree with that, managing nine initiatives can be like herding cats. In my experience, most of the budget goes to accreditation with stonewall. But there are relatively cheap things you can do that have a big impact. I was showing these to my table earlier, in fact, could you pass them around? Thank you. These are inclusion cards and we produce new ones each year. They contain a question, usually around a situation, and at the beginning of every meeting, someone picks a card out of the pack and everyone discusses the right answer. Simple idea like this that help change pre-conceived ideas helped get us from 350th on the Stonewall index up to 150th. Implementing competitions for charities is good too.”

“Look at the opportunities and take them when you can see them, e.g. review your values and purpose. Focus groups don’t need to cost lots of time and money. With the exception of TfL, I’ve never really worked anywhere with a budget. Highlight the disconnect between leadership, middle management and the front line. Personally, I don’t often use the language of D+I, just good sound management and that’s the language I use to couch the changes we need to make. Link it in with health and safety messages: my colleague is on Ramadan, look out for him on site because he might be dehydrated. Get real basic practical examples that everyone can understand and drive those out into the organisation. Highlight the day to day challenges. Highlight the skills shortage. Build a network around you of people you can trust. Network like crazy.”

Explain how inclusive practice promotes equality and supports diversity

We all know there are benefits in promoting better diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Chief amongst them it breeds a sense of belonging and mutual respect. It helps boost morale, motivation, productivity, attraction, retention, greater innovation and creativity. It’s about relating to your customers and also boosting your brand…. and it just feels right.


Need advice?

Over the last five years, we have built up a wealth of information and insight on diversity and inclusion – what works, what doesn’t work, what other organisations in your sector have tried and how they fared. To gain access to this advice, please contact us on the form below.

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