Equality, diversity and inclusion is good for staff and for business

Within the Business Bar, Kent-based businesses spanning finance, recruitment, law, marketing and more come together to grow and adapt. Member Henry Doswell, principal solicitor at Doswell Law Solicitors, talks about how equality, diversity and inclusion is good for staff and for business…

Taking equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) seriously in the workplace has huge benefits for both staff and businesses.

It allows staff to reach their full potential and, in turn, to be rewarded for their contribution and achievements. It gives businesses a better opportunity to attract and retain the best talent, leading to greater innovation, creativity, productivity and better business results. A diverse workforce also allows a business to draw on a wide range of ideas and expertise, and avoid “group think”.

There is a strong feeling that in the wake of global movements for racial and gender equality, EDI performance is very much under the microscope and is being demanded by investors, regulators and job seekers.

Recent research by global accountancy practice Deloitte showed that younger workers are more likely to stay with their employer for longer than five years if they are satisfied with their employer’s actions on workplace diversity and inclusion.

It can be difficult for businesses to alter negative attitudes towards EDI and create a fairer and more tolerant workplace. To progress EDI, businesses need to take a systematic approach to ensure that working practices across the business support an inclusive culture that champions differences rather than undermining them.

There is no legal requirement to have a written policy covering EDI but it’s a good idea to prepare one to show the business world that you take your legal and moral obligations towards being a diverse employer seriously. It is also likely to positively influence your staff and encourage them to treat each other equally.

There are, of course, significant risks for a business in failing to improve EDI or ignoring it. For example, increased incidences of sexual harassment can impact staff productivity and retention and thereby undermine market performance and profitability. These types of claims can also damage a business’ corporate reputation and image, and adversely affect staff and customer relationships.

Furthermore, a workplace environment that restricts open and honest communications, in which staff do not feel safe about speaking up, risks masking serious wrongdoing and a heightened exposure to costly disputes and claims.

There are also a number of measures that businesses can implement to help develop a more inclusive workplace culture and improve EDI. The following actions can be taken:

  • Reviewing recruitment and promotion practices and using suitable job adverts that highlight a commitment to EDI principles
  • Having visible role models from diverse backgrounds and appointing workplace equality champions to promote and monitor EDI issues and give support to staff
  • Mentoring and supporting staff that are recognised as being under-represented or potentially disadvantaged at work
  • Promoting the use of internal and external staff networks focused on supporting those with protected characteristics
  • Promoting case studies of diverse staff and highlighting this diversity within the business and externally
  • Cementing the principles of dignity and respect into the workplace culture together with a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Developing and implementing a non-retaliation policy to run alongside any grievance procedure so that staff can raise their concerns without it impacting them negatively in terms of pay or future career prospects
  • Regularly reviewing relevant employment policies such as the anti-bullying and harassment policy to ensure that they reflect best practice and are fully understood by staff at induction.
  • Supporting external initiatives such as Pride Month, International Transgender Day of Visibility and Black History Month
  • Signing up to equality initiatives such as the Race at Work Charter and Disability Confident

Although some businesses may struggle to adopt some of these measures due to limited resources, they should still endeavour to reflect and implement what they can to show that they understand and value the benefits of a more diverse workforce.

Contact: For advice or further information on how to handle workplace EDI, contact Henry Doswell, principal solicitor at Doswell Law Solicitors, on 01233 722942 or henry@doswell-law.com.

Disclaimer: Whilst every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary contained in this article accurate and up to date, Doswell Law Solicitors takes no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it. The information and commentary in this article does not constitute legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter.

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