3 things you need to implement a diversity and inclusion strategy

As workforce demographics shift and global markets emerge, workplace diversity is becoming a business necessity rather than a PR gimmick to boost brands.

To create a diverse and inclusive workplace, organisations need to embed diversity and inclusion into their core values and company culture. Without this, it can negatively affect their business and impact their ability to compete in the current market.

To avoid a damaging or ineffective Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategy there are 3 essential things you should implement.

1. Leadership Support

To implement an authentic diversity and inclusion strategy you need to have leadership support. Inclusive leadership is vital to ensure diverse thinking and respect and inclusion across the board.

If you have leadership support, they can communicate and influence in a way that gets everyone on board with new ideas and ways of thinking. Company leaders can then set a precedent for employees to follow.

If top management doesn’t support D&I strategies, then how can you expect staff to?

Siobhan O’Shea, head of D&I at Cpl stresses that it is necessary to ‘gain leadership commitment’ for implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy.

The goal of an inclusive culture can be built through open conversation from leaders to staff, emphasising the benefits and connecting inclusion with the business strategy. After the top leadership demonstrates diversity and inclusion, middle managers will follow and so on.

Research carried out by Deloitte (2018) shows that the behaviours of leaders can affect up to 70 percentage points of difference between the number of employees who feel included versus those who do not.

This year Great Place to Work reported 92% of employees in Cpl feeling highly included. Having leadership commitment from the CEO has helped us achieve this rate.

Anne Heraty states that “at Cpl, we are committed to creating an environment whereby our people feel they can bring their whole selves to work and are proud to do so”.

To fully implement a diversity and inclusion strategy it comes back to inclusive leadership and ensuring you have strong management that are advocates of your core values.

2. Communication

Communicating the importance of D&I is another essential for your policies to be embraced. You need to establish who needs what information and what kind of language will be needed to motivate your employees.

Company leaders need to communicate with all business stakeholders about any changes while employees need to be fully informed. From the get-go inform your people about the cultural changes taking place, the reasons for the changes and what is now expected of them.

If communication breaks down, implementation plans miss their mark, and results fall short.

If employees understand the reason for the change, they are more likely to accept it. Once they accept, you can then begin to adopt new ways of working and thinking.

3. Metrics and Goals

A range of metrics can be used to measure D&I efforts. Metrics will help you stay committed to working on your D&I strategies and keep you on track.

Inclusion metrics can also:

  • Identify risks
  • Help with prioritisation of initiatives
  • Set targets and goals
  • Measure the impact of initiatives
  • Establish a clear return-on-investment (ROI)

It’s vital businesses truly listen to employees, to see how effective initiatives are going. Holding focus groups and surveys can help identify engagement or issues. For example, in Cpl, we conduct a ‘Sense of Us’ survey. The aim of this is to see who our employees are and how included they feel.

By anonymising surveys, you’ll also get a more truthful insight into how employees feel, rather than asking direct.

Without leadership buy-in, communication and tracking your success your businesses efforts to create an inclusive culture simply won’t work.

If you would like to find more about incorporating a strong diversity and inclusion policy within your organisation please get in touch, we’d be delighted to advise.