How To Move From Diversity To Inclusion

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated March 11, 2024

We give our take on the barriers holding employers back and shed some light on how to move from diversity to inclusion.

Let’s start with the good news. Diversity is improving in the British workforce. And while there’s still a long way to go, we’re seeing an increasing rise in the number of underrepresented groups in employment. 

Unfortunately, progress seems much slower when it comes to inclusion.

Research shows that 1 in 5 employees don’t rate their company as an inclusive place to work. 

In particular, the study revealed that employers need to do more to empower people from different socio-economic backgrounds and those with disabilities.

It’s a common misconception that improving representation and diversity is enough. However, without doing the work to achieve a truly inclusive culture, these efforts fall short.

So what are the consequences?

Businesses that score highly in inclusion tend to outperform their competitors when it comes to productivity, creativity, and landing top talent. After all, this generation of workers cares more about inclusion and culture than any who came before.

Are you an employer looking to move from diversity to inclusion? Keep reading, as we break down three strategies to build a truly inclusive work culture.

How To Move From Diversity To Inclusion: 3 Strategies

The journey from diverse to true inclusivity is unique to every organisation. Factors such as your company size, current demographic, and even industry can impact how you achieve your goals. 

That said, no matter the industry, these three strategies can help you achieve a culture of belonging.

1. Move training out of the classroom

Providing DEI training is a great first step in moving your organisation from diverse to inclusive. However, it’s not enough on its own.

One of the biggest issues is that it creates a silo. While training makes employees aware of inclusion themes and offers advice, many staff don’t apply this learning on the job.

This is why your business needs to continue the inclusivity training outside of the classroom. For instance, create diverse task forces to work on projects or set up diverse mentorship programmes. 

The all-important final step: give staff the tools to succeed in these environments. Whether that’s additional resources, cultural competency training, or tools.

Additional reading: Best Diversity And Inclusion Courses 2024  

2. Build employees up

The link between inclusion and self-esteem may not be immediately clear, but according to Nathaniel Branden, it’s very real.

This is what he has to say:

“Research shows that a well-developed sense of personal value and autonomy correlates significantly with kindness, generosity, social cooperation, and a spirit of mutual aid.”

In other words, if we want to promote workplace inclusivity, we first need to empower our employees and build their confidence.

So how can employers build self-esteem in the workplace?

Establishing proper feedback cycles is a great starting point, as it gives staff the confidence that they’re performing well. 

In particular, managers should ensure that every employee’s daily tasks align with a company goal. That way, staff can see how they add value to the business.

Personal development plans and public recognition schemes can also help to create collectively higher self-esteem.

In addition, instilling a strong sense of accountability in employees can boost their confidence and sense of value. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Leadership coach Ann Howell outlines her two-step plan to build confidence.

The first step involves exploring “the unique perspective you bring to the world to understand how you can add value in a way that no one else can”. The second step focuses on acting more confident. Fake it ‘til you make it, if you will.

The main takeaway is that the more secure your workforce feels, the more likely they are to contribute to a culture of belonging.

You may also be interested in: Inclusive Recruitment Advice For Employers | Aspiring to Include 

3. Don’t just say, act

EDI policies, anti-discrimination policies, inclusion initiatives… all of these play an important role in moving from diversity to inclusion.

However, they must be backed up with tangible actions.

So, ask yourself: What actions is my organisation currently taking to foster an inclusive work culture? How do we make people from diverse backgrounds, capabilities, and experiences feel a sense of belonging?

The deeper you go into this audit, the more insight you’ll gain. For instance, consider your suppliers, communications, employer branding literature, and organisational processes. As you assess them, look for barriers or areas that may work against inclusion. 

Then make a plan with real goals and a real roadmap. This plan should include training, opportunities for cross-functional teams, leadership programmes, mentoring initiatives, and team building.

How you communicate as an organisation plays a pivotal role, too. So think of ways to make language more inclusive and to create open dialogues. 

Storytelling is a great technique here. For example, asking employees to share more about their unique experiences, skills, and personal challenges can boost compassion and create a true sense of inclusion.

Related content: How To Run A Diversity Audit 

Get In Touch

We hope you find our strategies on how to move from diversity to inclusion beneficial. As UK employers continue to make great strides in improving representation, it’s crucial to remember the importance of building an inclusive workplace.

After all, without creating a culture of belonging, diverse employees won’t stick around for long enough to reach leadership positions and effect real change.

At Aspiring to Include, we advocate for inclusion. That’s why we offer a free employer resource hub packed with DEI guides and insights. In addition, we provide a range of employer services, including inclusivity screening and advertising on our inclusive job board.

If you share our passion for inclusion and want to build a culture of belonging in your business, we can support you.

Get in touch to discuss your DEI goals.

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Last Updated: Thursday February 8 2024
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