Employers are not doing enough to educate on the positives of a diverse workforce - Business Leader News

Employers are not doing enough to educate on the positives of a diverse workforce

Managing Director Cathedral Appointments Jo Caine

Jo Caine

In a recent poll from Cathedral Appointments, 58% of respondents said that diversity in the workplace was not important for them when looking for a role. Business Leader recently spoke to Jo Caine, Managing Director of Cathedral Appointments, about whether employers are doing enough to educate on the positives of a diverse workforce.

As we all know, especially from our learnings over the past 18 months, the positives of ensuring diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of your business’ agenda, as well actively promoting and implementing a diverse workforce, are unlimited. From wider perspectives and voices to higher levels of productivity, improved workplace satisfaction and enhanced bottom lines – there’s no reason for employers or employees to dismiss the importance of a diverse team.

However, after a recent survey we undertook, it appears that the value of diversity isn’t as high as it should be. When we polled over 2,000 employees, over half (58 per cent) stated that a diverse workplace is not important to them when looking for a role.

But why is that?

Most of the time, this point of view derives from the fact that many people are genuinely unaware of their privilege, often as they haven’t witnessed the silent struggles and invisible barriers faced by diverse talent first-hand.

Secondly, it appears that employers simply aren’t doing enough to promote diversity and inclusion.

In an additional poll, we asked 1,500 employers and employees if they thought it was a recruiter’s job to find diverse talent. The majority, 57 per cent, said yes. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, as it’s crucial that employers attract diverse talent and actively work towards levelling the playing field for all candidates, rather than shift the responsibility elsewhere.

So, what tangible steps can employers take towards becoming a more diverse, inclusive organisation?

Be open to flexibility and adaptability

The 9-5 model has been around since the Victorian era, and I think it’s fair to say that the culture of this period certainly isn’t reflective of our world in 2021. So why are we upholding a working practice from the 1800s?

Flexible working undoubtedly allows for more diverse teams to thrive. For example, it helps parents return to work without needing to fall back a few rungs on the career ladder – in turn, reducing the gender pay gap – and it allows for those with disabilities to work accessibly.

Tokenistic training doesn’t make you a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) champion

While yes, undertaking company-wide D&I training is a brilliant base to start from – it’s certainly not the end of the matter. Training sessions will equip you and your team with the knowledge into issues such as unconscious bias, legal ramifications of non-inclusivity and so on, but it won’t automatically mean you’ve solved the problem.

Once you have undertaken training, this is where the hard work starts. Now is the time to take your knowledge, put it into practice and create a world-class culture that has diversity and inclusion at its core. This means creating zero-tolerance policies towards racial or misogynistic abuse, implementing a D&I team or leader, introducing metrics to quantify your progress, and ensuring inclusive language is used throughout the business.

Allow your business to be criticised – and then do something about it

We don’t know what we don’t know. It will take others to point our shortfalls out to us for us to make change or adapt. Of course, no one likes being told they’re wrong but, when it comes to D&I efforts especially, criticism is crucial otherwise we’d never improve.

Feedback forms, open forums, anonymous surveys – these are all brilliant ways to garner feedback from employees and other stakeholders regarding your D&I efforts. Ensure they are completed on a regular basis so any issues can be nipped in the bud quickly and efficiently.

Strengthening your organisations’ D&I strategy isn’t always easy, but it will certainly be worth it. Persevere and watch your business reap the rewards.