Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is increasingly becoming a hot topic in the workplace, and most organisations have at least some sort of EDI policy in place. However, the way we work and the demographics of our workforce are changing faster than we’re going through Prime Ministers, so your run-of-the-mill, bog-standard diversity initiatives probably aren’t cutting it.
But don’t worry! We’re here to help. Here is our guide to why freshening up your EDI policies is no longer optional, and why it is crucial to your company’s success.
Diversity is good for business, but it isn't happening fast enough
Studies have shown that diversity does benefit your bottom line. Research by FTSE Russell confirms that more diverse companies with diverse boards of directors perform better financially. However, many companies are not actively integrating diversity into their business and, therefore, aren’t reaping the benefits.
Why? Well, it might be because people are used to thinking about diversity as a social issue rather than an economic one — and thus don't see the benefits of keeping EDI at the forefront. Or maybe they think that encouraging diversity will lead to decreased productivity and profitability. Whatever the reason, the truth is that diversity is good for business, and there is research from Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, and the Harvard Business Review to say so (please share with anyone who still isn’t convinced 😒). Findings even include that diverse workforces are twice as likely to meet or surpass financial goals.
However, companies cannot benefit from diversity unless they intentionally and purposefully seek to build an inclusive workplace. Shifting the narrative and looking within the organisation is crucial if we are ever to see the real benefits that diversity can have.
We still haven’t mastered the basics
We probably don’t need to tell you about the fundamentals of human rights, but the crux of it is, the law protects employees from harmful behaviour to employees under the Equality Act 2010 to a certain extent. We also probably don’t need to tell you that this is the bare minimum, and it certainly isn’t enough to ensure that inclusion and a sense of belonging are felt throughout. Basically, EDI initiatives need to go further than the baseline legislation that protects human rights, so it falls to workplace leaders to implement all-encompassing EDI policies that genuinely look to the needs of those working there.
But remember, although a strong EDI policy is the first step to creating an inclusive workplace, that doesn’t make it a cure-all. The policy itself doesn't mean that your organisation is free from discrimination, harassment or bias — it's just the starting point for creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. It’s about being aware of the culture within your organisation and creating a safe space for employees to raise issues and concerns.
Top talent cares more than ever about employers sharing their values
The best way to attract and retain top talent is through a company's values. And that begins with EDI.
It's no secret that millennials want to work for companies that care about their values, and many other generations also share this sentiment. According to a recent study by PwC, 86% of millennials say they would choose an organisation based on its reputation for ethical behaviour over another employer who offered more benefits if both companies were equal in job opportunities and pay. That means your company has an opportunity to attract top talent by being transparent about its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
Not only does EDI help you attract top talent, but it helps companies retain talent too. This means that a good EDI policy has to do more than make promises — it has to deliver on them. Retention depends on people feeling included and safe while working, which is what a good diversity policy should aim to do.
Implementing meaningful EDI policies in your organisation? Don’t hesitate to make some noise about it. Social media is an excellent tool for attracting new talent, so let them know your values.
Inclusive workplaces drive innovation
A diverse workforce is likely to bring more innovative ideas to the table — 6 times more likely to be precise, according to research by Deloitte. As a result, companies that have embraced diversity are often better able to tackle complex problems and develop creative solutions.
For example, research has shown that teams with a high degree of racial or ethnic diversity are more likely than homogenous groups to generate new ideas and solve problems creatively. As we enter into a recession, this has never been more important, and although many companies might scale back EDI budgets during this time, doing so can actually harm your ability to succeed. Businesses prioritising diversity now are more likely to come out on top later.
Once again, achieving this also requires everyone in your diverse team to feel a sense of belonging.
Belonging in the workplace drives engagement
In post-pandemic life, organisations are striving for better engagement like never before. Engagement refers to the extent to which your employees are committed and motivated to help their organisation achieve its goals. Therefore it relies heavily on how employees feel at work, and how supported they are. In post-pandemic life, organisations are striving for better engagement like never before.
Equity and inclusion policies are key drivers of engagement. Employees who feel valued are more likely to stay with your company and be productive. A study by Gallup found that engaged employees are 63% more likely to be productive than disengaged ones. This is where the benefits of EDI become cyclical — engaged employees are more innovative, and innovation is vital for companies looking to grow their bottom line. During turbulent financial situations, companies need to take measures that ensure high performance and employee retention, so once again this matters more than ever.
It’s indisputable that EDI in the workplace benefits everyone, but it isn’t going to happen on its own. That’s why it’s up to workplace leaders to implement policies and initiatives that are relevant, appropriate and effective. Remember, an effective EDI policy is not just good for your employees, it's good for your business too. By creating an inclusive and diverse workplace, you're tapping into a wider pool of talent and perspectives, which can lead to better decision-making, increased innovation, and improved bottom-line results.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to roll your sleeves up and ensure your EDI policy is up-to-date and ready to tackle the diverse and ever-changing world of work. In doing so, you can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace that truly reflects the world we live in today.