Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is such a complicated issue it can seem difficult to know where to start. That’s why we have developed this dedicated guide for employers to better understand their first steps to rooting out discrimination and creating an inclusive workplace.
First and foremost, you need to understand what EDI is: It stands for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
This means that the best way to improve equality in the UK is by increasing the diversity of the UK workforce. However, the greatest barrier to increased diversity is a lack of inclusivity from the employers themselves.
As such, if an employer wants to improve the equality in their company, including expanding their pool of talented candidates and encouraging greater loyalty of their staff, they should develop the diversity and inclusivity of their workplace.
Know the law
It is your responsibility as the employer to fully understand discrimination in the workplace. Trying to increase equality, diversity and inclusion is a matter of improving your company culture, which starts with you.
To start getting to grips with spotting discrimination, you should learn all of the protected characteristics under the UK’s Equality Act 2010, which encompasses and defines all workplace discrimination.
It starts with you
More than anything, you can’t just pass this task off to a dedicated EDI specialist. In the management chain, if people don’t feel like they can complain to their superiors about discrimination, they will feel like the company culture is not inclusive.
Reports suggest that LGBTQ+ people suffer from shocking amounts of discrimination in the UK. Furthermore, the same reports found that this problem is routed in the lack of accountability.
This is because the vast majority of those victims of discrimination did not feel comfortable approaching their manager or director about the incident as they feared it would lead to them being outed to the rest of the company. As such, the higher in the company hierarchy you are, the more important it is that you understand discrimination and make it clear that you are open to hearing complaints.
Part of this is about tackling your unconscious bias, which we have developed a dedicated guide for employers.
Start a dialogue
Understanding and locating discrimination is impossible to achieve by one person. There are a million and one nuances that only your employees will see or experience. To truly tackle discrimination, you have to create an environment in which your employees can discuss discrimination and issues with inclusivity openly.
This will allow you root out any issues within your company culture and demonstrate to your employees that not only are you there to support them against discrimination, but also that you will discipline anyone that discriminates against a colleague.
A further stage of this process should be to create and agree upon an equality, diversity and inclusion plan collectively. That way you can identify the issues that your employees are concerned about, whilst you are not being held accountable if it is not far-reaching enough.
Make a plan and stick to it
You cannot implement equality, diversity and inclusion overnight; genuine inclusivity requires a shift in company culture which can take months or even years. As such, just developing a plan or communal target is not enough to demonstrate EDI.
Your staff will also be watching how much you commit to that plan in the future, including how you react to situations as they arise. If you fail to uphold the commitments that you outlined previously, you will undermine the work you have done. As such, your employees will believe that your support for equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a hollow branding exercise.
In this, transparency is essential. Mistakes are going to be made and very few employees will expect you to be perfect from the off. However, if you are not honest and open to critique you will only encourage more mistakes further down the line.