We hear all the time about the importance of diversity and inclusion. But what do these terms mean? And why are they so important for business?
In short, diversity is having a wide range of people in your organisation. Inclusion is making sure those people work well together. There is no one-time fix to ensuring your company is diverse and inclusive but there are practical steps you can take to improve your processes.
In the UK, there are nine ‘protected characteristics’ according to the 2010 Equality Act. Businesses should make an active effort to ensure they are not unlawfully discriminating against any these groups:
- Gender reassignment
- Being married or in a civil partnership
- Being pregnant or on maternity leave
- Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
However, having an inclusive team is about more than just tokenism. Promoting inclusion in the workplace is about encouraging a work environment where diverse talents can flourish. It is not simply a matter of fulfilling ‘quotas’ but seeing the wider picture, where all employees feel included and respected.
Show your employees that you value their time and effort by investing in the culture of your workplace. We’ve put together a couple of reasons having a diverse team is important to any organisation.
- Access a Wider Range of Skills
Whatever sector you work in, there are numerous skills your executive team has to use every day. The wider the range of employees in your company, the wider the range of skills. Everyone comes to a board meeting from different places. They will have picked up useful hard and soft skills that can improve your business practices.
- Encourage Creativity
Creativity is at the centre of business. The ability to innovate should be built into the DNA of your organisation, rather than tacked on as an afterthought. The more diverse and inclusive your company, the more easily you will be able to adapt.
In the past year, we have seen the importance of flexibility. The pandemic has shown how quickly things can slip out of our control. Organisations with high levels of diversity are better equipped to adapt to change.
Your board members should act like a seamless unit, not competing factions. Embracing diversity and inclusion can create a more dynamic environment where ideas flow readily. Your team will contribute their best work and leave the meeting excited to return.
- Support a Productive Workflow
Employee satisfaction is a good thing in itself, but it can also help your company! The link between satisfaction and efficiency is well documented. Employees who are happier in the workplace will do their best work.
When your employees want to work every day, they will be more loyal to your company. This will also result in reduced turnover and a more experienced workforce. Having a high rate of employee retention means you do not have to waste time and resources in training new team members.
- Create Happier Employees
Your employees are the soul of your business. Around the world, companies are realising that profit is only one part of running a successful business.
You need to pay attention to the stakeholders who put the most into your business: your employees. A strong workplace culture is essential for employee experience and long-term happiness. By prioritising inclusion, you can make sure everyone feels at home.
- Understand your Customers
The customers of most organisations are a diverse group of people. As a result, you need a diverse board to understand them. With board members that come from different backgrounds, you can truly tap into the mind of your customers. Creating realistic buyer personas takes research, but it is made easier when your team has first-hand insight.
- Tackle Prejudice
Companies should pay attention to ESG concerns. This means striving to make the world a better place for consumers and communities.
Although some improvements have been made in recent years, there is still plenty of prejudice in the UK and around the world. It is our duty to actively fight this backwards point of view. Employing a diverse range of people will not solve racism, sexism, and homophobia overnight, but it is a starting point.
- Enhance your Reputation
There are numerous benefits to having a strong reputation, including some you might never have thought about. It can create business opportunities, lower marketing costs, improve the pool of potential employees, and increase the value of the organisation.
So what does this have to do with diversity and inclusion in business? Simple: fostering a diverse workforce will improve the reputation of your company. In the 21st century, diversity and inclusion are important measures of a company’s success. This is particularly important to Millennials and Generation Z who see a varied workforce as a symbol of modernity.
- Claim Higher Revenues
All of these things are important, but at the end of the day, you care about the revenue of your business. If your company does not make enough money to survive, the productivity of your employees is meaningless. Make sure you are doing the best you can for your shareholders.
Diversity is a concrete benefit to your bookkeeping. It can help you save money and invest more wisely. All of these other points can come together to improve the financial success of your company. In the long term, having a diverse company can be the difference between financial failure and success.
How can Convene help you improve the diversity of your business?
At Convene, we understand the importance of accessibility. Our board portal is designed to simplify your board meetings for everyone involved. With a virtual boardroom, your board can access documents and information from anywhere in the world.
From planning the agenda to establishing an audit trail, our comprehensive software is there for every step of the journey. When communication can flow seamlessly, different people can come together and speak with one voice. That is, after all, the point of a board.