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The Value and Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Posted-on November 2020 By Amy Bates

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​We recently had the pleasure of listening to a fantastic Diversity and Inclusion presentation, presented by Claire Harvey.

Claire is an accomplished senior leader, inclusion expert and Paralympian. Having previously worked as Head of Inclusive Leadership at KPMG, Claire is now recognised as a world leader in diversity, inclusion, and culture, implementing change management and leadership behaviours into impactful programmes. In 2017, Claire was awarded an MBE for both her services to Sport and to inclusion.

"Claire’s discussion was really interesting, she opened my eyes to understand the difference between diversity and inclusion". commented Sandra Hill, MD of The Hill Group. "One thing that really stood out is the consideration that when senior management are looking at their business think about their prospective employees as well as their current staff. Is their brand and reputation going to be attractive to future workforce?"

Promoting and supporting workplace diversity is an important aspect of good management of people. It is about valuing everyone as an individual in the organisation. However, in addition to the importance of a diverse workforce, it is essential to have an inclusive environment in which everyone feels able to participate and to achieve their potential. While UK legislation covers age, disability, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, among others, which sets basic standards, an effective diversity and inclusion strategy goes beyond regulatory compliance and strives to add value to the organisation by contributing to employee well-being and engagement.

Diversity and inclusion often go hand in hand but are different from one another. But what is the difference?

Diversity is about recognising difference. It’s acknowledging the benefit of having a range of perspectives in decision-making and the workforce being representative of the organisation’s customers.

Inclusion is where everyone's differences are valued and used to enable everybody to thrive at work. An inclusive workplace culture is one where everyone feels that they belong without having to conform, that their contribution matters and they can perform to their full potential, no matter their background, identity or circumstances. An inclusive workplace has fair policies and practices in place and enables a diverse range of people to work together effectively.

So, although people have many things in common, they are different in a variety of ways too. This principle is considered by the concept of 'intersectionality' that we all have multiple different identities that impact on our experience.

For instance, personal characteristics such as background, culture, personality, work style, accent, and language include visible and non-visible differences. So it is important to recognise that a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to the management of people does not achieve fairness and equal opportunity for all. People have various different individual needs, values and beliefs. Good leadership practise needs to be consistently fair, but also flexible and inclusive, to support both individual and business needs.

Discrimination can:

•Impact on the well-being, performance at work and intent to stay of an individual.

•Have adverse effects on job opportunities.

•Fail to recognise skills-based abilities, potential and experience.

•Result in substantial legal costs, compensation and settlements paid to avoid defending costly claims of discrimination.

Claire also shared some facts on the value of diversity in an organisation:

•Diverse organisations are 70% more likely to capture new markets.

•Gender diverse and ethically diverse companies are more likely to outperform industry norms by 25% and 36% respectively.

•Diverse and inclusive teams make better decisions 87% pf the time.

•Diverse organisations after 19% more likely to see higher innovation revenue.

The advantages of having a diverse workforce go beyond political correctness. Having employees with different backgrounds and perspectives can lead to better decision-making, greater innovation, and increased productivity in the workplace. It could also enhance the reputation of a business and help attract top talent.