Every year on March 1, the United Nations and other partner organisations around the world celebrate Zero Discrimination Day. The day aims to promote inclusivity and end discrimination in all forms that are based on an individual’s race, gender, colour, sexuality, abilities, faith, nationality.
Zero Discrimination Day was inspired by World AIDS Day that looked to combat the stigma faced by those living with HIV. Zero Discrimination Day was first observed in December 2013 by then UNAIDS Director Michel Sidibé as a step against all forms of intolerance.
A lot has been said about the ethical and business benefits of promoting DE&I. Yet the following stats reveal some shocking truths:
- One in five people across 31 countries have experienced at least one form of discrimination prohibited by international human rights laws in the period between 2014 – 2019. The UN Secretary General’s Annual report on the Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals further revealed that women were more likely to be victims than men.
- One in three women with disabilities has personally experienced discrimination and the main grounds cited were ‘religion, ethnicity and sex’.
- There are over 700,000 people diagnosed with autism in the UK. However, only 16% of them are in full-time employment.
- One in five employees in the UK has been subject to negative comments or conduct from colleagues for being part of the LGBTQ+ community. One in ten black, Asian and ethnic minority staff and one in eight transgender people have experienced physical attacks in the workplace.
These figures highlight the significant work left to do to address these inequities and build a more inclusive environment for people to be the best version of themselves.
For organisations looking to future-proof their businesses with the right talent, diversity and inclusion are key to strategic workforce planning. However, in the current scenario this is a unique challenge. Here’s why:
For the first time in modern history, there are five generations in the workforce. They are:
- The Traditionalists (born between 1928 to 1945)
- The Baby Boomers (born between 1946 to 1964)
- Generation X (born between 1965 to 1980)
- Millennials (born between 1981 to 2000)
- Generation Z (born between 2001 to 2020)
Each generation has its unique characteristics and motivations and managing this multi-generational workforce is a real challenge for businesses today.
The prejudices that Baby Boomers face could likely be different from Gen Zs or Millennials. For example – Baby Boomers may routinely face ageism in the workplace. According to Deloitte’s Global Millennial and Gen Z survey, 34% of millennials say that systemic racism in prevalent in the workplace and one in five feels personally attacked at all times because of some aspect of their background.
What are the challenges for businesses?
Understanding the unique biases that a multi-generational workforce faces
Taking the right steps to mitigate these biases
Proactively building an inclusive work culture that embraces differences
Zero Discrimination Day 2023
This year for Zero Discrimination Day we want to look at five steps that businesses can adopt to create a more inclusive work culture. One which allows a multi-generational workforce to thrive.
5 ways to make your business more inclusive
- Provide safe spaces for employees
- Provide multiple channels for raising complaints and feedback
- Have an inclusive recruitment policy
- Provide diversity training for all
- Create employee support networks
Provide safe spaces for employees
To provide a truly inclusive workplace, organisations need to ensure that employees feel comfortable and safe. ‘Safe spaces’ can come in different forms. For example – having unisex or gender-neutral toilets can cater to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
Similarly, arrangements should be made for employees with disabilities. Consider fitting toilets with disability access, installing ramps and adjusting work areas to accommodate wheelchairs and other special equipment.
Arrangements should also be made to ensure neurodiverse employees like those on the autism spectrum feel comfortable and are able to excel in their roles. From providing access to a quiet room where they can go to de-stress when overstimulated, to adjusting their workstations (like installing screens around their desk) to provide relief from everyday distractions and stimuli.
Read our tips on dealing with autism in the workplace.
Provide multiple channels for raising complaints and feedback
One of the most important ways to build an inclusive work culture is to listen to your employees. Have multiple channels of communication open to offer better accessibility. Consider anonymous employee surveys, feedback forms and one-to-one meetings.
Employees need an outlet for connecting with other colleagues and sharing their stories. A company intranet is a great platform for employees to engage with one another and raise any issues.
Be prepared to receive negative feedback and have a ready response plan. A document detailing the response timelines, guidelines for the escalation of issues, redressal procedures etc. – should be circulated company-wide. The goal is to have full transparency and encourage open conversations.
Employees need to feel like they’re valued. By providing a step-by-step guideline on raising complaints and a detailed outline of the methods for resolving the issue including timeframes – companies can manage employee expectation and show the actionable ways in which they deal with feedback/complaints.
Have an inclusive recruitment policy
Review your company’s recruitment policy to ensure that your hiring practices promote diversity and inclusion. This involves reviewing the language you use in job adverts to rethinking the kinds of people that the business can visualise doing certain roles within their teams to the different sources they tap into for recruiting talent.
With the ongoing global talent shortage companies need to reimagine the composition of their workforce. This means recruiting talent from diverse social, economic, academic and cultural backgrounds.
At FDM we recruit graduates, career returners and ex-forces personnel and help launch thousands of careers in business and tech every year. Our consultants come from diverse backgrounds and age groups.
By creating an inclusive recruitment policy, businesses can effectively future-proof their talent pipelines and consistently grow productivity.
Read our tips on:
Provide diversity training for all
Organising company-wide diversity training is an effective way to raise awareness about common biases and prejudices. It educates employees about all the different aspects of diversity and the importance of understanding and appreciating our differences. On a basic level, diversity training can include an introduction to different cultures, faiths and customs. For instance, an awareness of the different religious festivals and what different customs mean to different faiths.
On a deeper level, diversity training provides guidance on how to respond to these differences and the ways to be sensitive and respectful of those who are different from us.
Create employee support networks
Employee networks are a great way to build a sense of community within a company and encourage staff to engage with their peers. Employee networks can be interests-driven or focus on certain aspects of identity. For example – a group for working parents could be a valuable resource for those struggling to balance work and childcare.
Diversity, equity and inclusion at FDM
At FDM, diversity, equity and inclusion are at the core of everything we do, and we have successfully established ourselves as an equal opportunities employer. With over three decades of experience in recruiting and training people, we can build diverse pipelines of talent who bring innovation and creativity to problem solving.
FDM has over 5,500 employees worldwide with 95+ nationalities working together as a team. We celebrate difference because we want everyone to have equal opportunity to belong and grow in their career. Shaped by our core values, we have built a vibrant, inclusive, and diverse culture where ideas can flourish, talent is nurtured, and achievements are recognised and rewarded.
Our various employee networks like LEAD, PRIDE, CARE and UNIQUE as well as our dedicated Employee Assistance Programme aim to provide ongoing support to our people both inside and outside work.
If you’re committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, but don’t know where to start, there are various training programmes available to help you learn how to achieve your DE&I objectives. Alternatively, if you do not have the resources to do this yourself, you can use a talent partner, like FDM.
If you are looking to tap into a diverse talent pipeline and create an inclusive workforce, check out FDM’s consultant services for more information.