Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is such a complicated issue it can seem difficult to know where to start. Yet, it is also a hugely important issue, one that we need to get right. Especially as employers.
At Aspiring to Include, we want to help make these big topics accessible. That’s why we have developed this dedicated guide for employers to better understand their first steps to EDI. Rooting out discrimination and creating an inclusive workplace are critical things to do, so let’s look at how to do them in easy steps.
Step 1- Understand EDI and What It Means
First and foremost, you need to understand what EDI is. EDI is an acronym that stands for and combines the issues of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
These three aspects go hand in hand. There are the three essential ingredients to a safe and happy society. When it comes to building the right kind of workplace, they are similarly essential ingredients to doing so.
One of the best ways to improve overall equality in the U.K. is by increasing the diversity and inclusion of the U.K. workforce. Making EDI a very important issue for employers. This diversity would spread into every aspect of our society from this one action and would prove itself a very powerful venture. Work takes up so much of our lives and companies have so much impact on our lives, how would increasing diversity and equality here not have such an effect?
Step 2 – Know the Law
EDI is very much rooted in Equality Law. In 2022, there is no place to hide when it comes to accountability for discrimination, prejudice, and bias. 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 familiarise yourself with the U.K.’s Equality Act of 2010, which encompasses and defines all workplace discrimination. You can also use our many guides and resources on Aspiring to Include to further familiarise yourself with topics such as equal pay, inclusive recruitment, and rights/regulations. All of this is critical knowledge going forward.
Step 3 – Do Your Own Work First
A problem is that one of the greatest barriers to increased diversity is a lack of inclusivity from the employers themselves. So, if an employer wants to improve the EDI of their company, they should first take a good look at themselves and their own practices.
You can’t just pass this task off to a dedicated EDI specialist and be done with it. 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.
For example, reports suggest that LGBTQ+ people suffer from shocking amounts of discrimination in the U.K. Furthermore, the same reports found that this problem is routed in the lack of accountability. The vast majority of those victims of discrimination did not feel comfortable approaching their manager or director about the incident. This is for many reasons, among which they feared it would lead to them being “outed” to the rest of the company.
To avoid discrimination going so unnoticed and unreported, 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. An open door policy with active listening and appropriate protocol is paramount to dealing with these situations.
Part of this might also be about tackling your unconscious bias. A tough topic on which we have developed a dedicated guide for employers.
Step 4 – Start a Dialogue
Understanding and locating work-based discrimination is impossible to achieve by just one person. There are a million and one nuances that only your employees will see or experience in their daily lives.
To truly tackle discrimination, you have to create an environment in which your employees can discuss discrimination and issues with inclusivity openly. As we have stated above, when people are silenced, no change is made and no progress can be achieved.
When you allow dialogue in the office, it allows you to root out any issues within your company culture. It also demonstrates to your employees that not only are you there to support them against discrimination but also that you will discipline anyone that does discriminate.
Step 5 – Make a Plan and Stick to It
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 and show a commitment to working on them. Publishing this plan is also a great choice for your company. Showing both your staff and the general public that you are committed to improving EDI in the workplace has a range of positive effects. People like to buy from, work with, and work for people who care about other people.
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. You have to stick to it long-term.
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.
Step 6 – Continually Learn and Develop
Improving EDI should also include a practice of maintaining it for years to come. It is no good to make temporary change and leave it at that. It is no good to do anything for show either.
To really make a difference in equality, diversity and inclusion, you need to make a long-term commitment as an employer. Becoming a diversity-positive employer takes work and dedication, but it is worth it for everyone in the long run.
For help, guidance and extra resources on this journey, make sure to check out all we have to offer at Aspiring to Include. We can help employers improve their EDI in many ways, with the ultimate aim of connecting them with a varied and diverse range of job candidates.
You can take a look at our services for employers to get started and get in touch with our dedicated team if you need any information.
Everything is better when we work together!