Diversity and inclusion have become essential components of the modern workplace to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all employees, while also enabling businesses to operate in an increasingly globalised world. Businesses that fail to embrace diversity and inclusion risk being left behind in the competition for the best talent, the latest innovation and growing market share.
Employment figures from the UK Government show that 76% of white people in the UK population are employed, whereas just 67% of people from all other ethnic groups combined are employed. This demonstrates a clear racial disparity in employment, with an astonishing 10% difference between white and non-white groups!
In addition to racial disparities, the Office for National Statistics reports an 8.3% gender pay gap among full-time employees. Also, according to a study by YouGov for LinkedIn, LGBTQ+ workers are paid on average £6,700 per year less than heterosexual colleagues. This results in a 16% pay gap - almost double that of the gender divide!
So, it is evident that diversity and inclusion are still a work in progress for many businesses across the UK, which is having serious implications for a variety of minority groups. But how are leaders going to ensure the right measures are taken to improve this?
Introducing diversity initiatives is a key step to encouraging diversity and inclusion within your organisation and supporting underrepresented groups, such as non-white, female and LGBTQ+ workers. Hiring diverse teams can result in a number of business and people benefits for organisations. Employers who embrace diversity can expect to see improved diversity of thought within their teams, reduced employee turnover, higher levels of employee satisfaction and overall enhanced business performance.
We explore the top diversity and inclusion initiatives for businesses to get behind this year and the benefits you can experience as a result.
5 Diversity & inclusion initiatives to get behind in 2023
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
- Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) training programmes
- Mentorship programmes
- Recruitment & retention initiatives
- Diversity calendar for events
1. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
An Employee Resource Group (ERG) is an organised group of employees with shared characteristics or life experiences who join together in their workplace. The main aims of ERGs are to provide a safe space for employees to offer support to one another, and encourage career and personal development within the work environment. Shared characteristics could include gender identity, sexual orientation, parental status or even shared hobbies. For example, at FDM, we run multiple Employee Resource Groups, such as our Pride, LEAD and CARE networks, as well as our Employee Assistance programme.
Whatever the shared experience, Employee Resource Groups help make employees feel included, offering them a sense of belonging, and a space where they can be their authentic selves at work. Encouraging a work environment where staff stay true to themselves is beneficial to both employees and businesses. Employees are able to build better relationships with their colleagues who share similar interests and values, which improves collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, and idea-sharing. In fact, studies show that employees who feel safe and comfortable being themselves at work feel more valued by their employers, and are more likely to share their ideas and input more to the business.
Better relationships at work lead to higher job satisfaction, employee experience and wellbeing. In turn, businesses can benefit from more productive teams, increased skills-sharing, greater innovation, and lower turnover rates. In many cases, Employee Resource Groups can promote a culture of acceptance and tolerance, and help improve allyship among employees. These groups do so by providing a platform for individuals to learn about different perspectives, and foster understanding and empathy between colleagues. They also encourage open and honest dialogue about diversity and inclusion, which can help educate employees and reduce unconscious bias or discrimination in the workplace.
2. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) training programmes
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training programmes are critical for staff at all levels to help everyone become more aware of unconscious bias and foster an inclusive work culture. By becoming aware of the surrounding biases, employees can take conscious action to mitigate their own impact and make more inclusive decisions.
DEI training helps employees become more comfortable discussing workplace discrimination, challenging their own unconscious biases, showing empathy to those affected by discrimination, and speaking up when they see this happening. It provides a space for inclusive thinking and ingrains this into the organisation, making inclusivity part of everyone’s day-to-day.
This type of training is most important for leadership teams as it allows them to set the right example and understand when it is appropriate to take action against discrimination. As such, training plays a huge part in decreasing workplace discrimination and harassment, as leaders are given the tools they need to process and escalate discrimination complaints.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that just 38% of UK organisations have a budget specifically for DEI initiatives and the typical budget is set at £50 or less per person. As a result, DEI training is often deprioritised since it can prove to be a steeper expense. However, providing training is arguably one of the most important diversity and inclusion initiatives for your organisation, as it lays the foundations for an inclusive workplace and sets the standard company-wide. Therefore, we recommend that every single organisation should invest in DEI training for their teams, whether that’s internal or external.
3. Mentorship programmes
Whether it’s a lack of professional direction or struggles to get a promotion, it is not uncommon for employees to feel demotivated at work. However, the impact of this can be felt even more so by minority groups who are battling against additional barriers, such as a lack of representation, bias, limited opportunities, or a lack of support.
Mentorship programmes are an effective way to support and empower minority employees in their careers, helping them develop their skills and expand their professional networks. This can help more minority employees understand their career path and access the necessary tools to reach their goals.
Mentors with similar backgrounds can show mentees how they overcame certain obstacles and share their life experiences, teach them new skills and provide guidance. They act as role models for their mentees and demonstrate that their aspirations for success are achievable - better yet, they can show them how to achieve their goals!
We recommend making mentorships an ‘opt in’ programme within your organisation, so that those involved can get the most out of it, and mentors truly care about their mentees.
4. Recruitment & retention initiative
Fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace all starts with your recruitment processes. Adopting the right recruitment and retention initiatives can help you build a diverse workforce and retain diverse talent, giving you access to a wider talent pool and paving the way to happier, stronger teams.
Surveys reveal that 74% of UK employees consider it important that they work in an organisation that values DEI, which means diversity in your recruitment initiatives is a must-have for top talent acquisition. There are many ways you can adapt your recruitment processes to attract more diverse candidates, such as using inclusive language in your job listings, using blind hiring practices, offering employee benefits, and publishing pay gap reports. See the FDM Gender Pay Gap Report for more information.
Embedding diversity, equity and inclusion in the recruitment process is a priority for 89% of businesses and has already been included as part of their current and planned actions to improve DEI. We recommend reading our blog for more tips on how to improve diversity in your recruitment processes to make sure you don’t get left behind!
Read more about how to attract, engage and retain more women in tech
5. Diversity calendar for events
Celebrating diversity from all walks of life is a fantastic way to show your employees that you value their contributions and appreciate them. Fill your events calendar with special days from all ethnicities, religions and cultures, as well as other secular holidays. Don’t forget to celebrate even the smaller, lesser-known holidays, as only shining a spotlight on the well-known events may alienate certain groups and end up being counterproductive!
There are different ways you can celebrate, such as food-sharing, learning about traditions, decorating the workplace, or organising cultural performances. You may also want to consider modifying your annual leave policies to be more accommodating to different groups. By doing so, you will really demonstrate to your employees that you value, respect and support their differences.
We recommend using social media to communicate with your employees and potential talent to create an inclusive environment, and two-way conversation, as well as a platform to share all your diverse celebrations throughout the year.
Do you need some inspiration? From Chinese Lunar New Year to Pride Month, check out all the ways we’ve celebrated diversity at FDM in the past year
How to start rolling out diversity initiatives
Now you should have an idea of the types of innovative diversity and inclusion initiatives that your business should look to adopt in the coming year, but how do you actually implement all this?
It would be deceptive to say it’s easy to start rolling out all of these diversity initiatives, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Why not choose one or two to focus on, and go from there? For example, if you have limited budgets, we recommend starting with culture initiatives, such as setting up employee-led support groups or celebrating diversity on your social media. For organisations with the resources, we highly recommend investing in DEI training for your team leaders and wider staff. Whichever initiatives you choose, just remember to measure your diversity and inclusion progress to keep your business accountable and on track.
If you require more support, working with a talent solutions partner that specialises in diversity and inclusion can help you acquire and retain candidates from a varied talent pool. At FDM, diversity and inclusion are at the core of everything we do and we strive to promote equality across all genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, nationalities and more. Our organisation is made up of employees from over 95 nationalities, with 40% of our senior management identifying as female, and 36% being the first in their family to attend university.
We recruit and train our consultants solely on their strengths, skills and attitude, placing apprentices, ex-forces personnel, graduates and Returners with our clients based on their potential, not their background. We are strong believers that no STEM is no problem. We aim to make a career in technology accessible to all, regardless of their academic, cultural or social background.
Are you ready to get serious about diversity and inclusion in your organisation? Check out the FDM Consultant Services or get in touch to find out how we can help you make your business more inclusive, and hire the top diverse talent across the country.