The subject of inclusion and diversity has been brought to the forefront as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with recent news stories highlighting race and equality. Lockdown saw those companies with an already diverse workforce supporting employees in a variety of ways depending on their situations, for example flexi working for those with caring responsibilities or parents who had to fit homeschooling into their busy schedules. However those with a less diverse workforce have been able to question how they build a more inclusive workplace. Companies have also been alerted to how unconscious biases can creep in and compromise diversity. HR Managers have been able to question recruitment processes and ensure that they offer equal opportunities.
Embracing diversity means looking beyond our stereotypes and the categories we put people in; instead, seeing each person as an individual with a unique mixture of skills, talents and ideas.
There are many benefits for organisations that promote equality and diversity in the workplace. Individuals from different backgrounds bring a wide range of skills and talents. It enables the business to benefit from different perspectives, approaches, and ideas as well as influence creativity and innovation. This leads to a more supportive, tolerant and inclusive workplace culture for all employees.
Raconteur’s Future of Work report, which was published in The Times featured two significant stories showing the positive effects on inclusion and diversity since the Coronavirus pandemic.
The report acknowledges, ‘an issue that often arises when flexible working is raised as an option for disabled people is perceived unfairness. But in recent months, remote working has been the norm, which means disabled people don’t have to feel like they’re being given special treatment.’
‘Flexible working for everyone now is great in that it normalises it for disabled people,’ says Annie who has fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.
Also increasing awareness of racial inequality has helped highlight a lack of diversity when it comes to the backing of black-owned businesses. The report on putting Black-owned businesses in the spotlight recognises that it’s about ‘empowering individuals to drive change.’ These open conversations can act as a catalyst for change when it comes to inclusion and diversity.
Many leaders are stepping up to show their commitment to have an inclusive and diverse workforce. Challenging existing protocols and processes, along with ensuring decisions on furloughing employees, redundancies and the return to work avoid discrimination are all positive steps towards greater equality. Businesses have had to consider workforce inclusion and understand their employees individual circumstances in these unprecedented times. It’s certainly a positive step and a move in the right direction towards greater workplace inclusion and diversity, but there is still more to be done.
iHASCO collaborated with Raconteur and The Times to produce the Future of Work report – one of the most anticipated publications of the year for employers and decision makers! The COVID-19 pandemic is set to have a lasting effect on UK businesses, but some of that change can be positive. The report offers focussed content on key issues currently impacting organisations, including how eLearning is shaping the future of employee training!
In case you missed it you can download your free copy here.