Throughout 2020 we saw many more employers wanting to value equality, diversity and inclusion more and more in their workforce.
The benefits of having a wide variety of staff and contributing to a more equal and fair society have meant that more than ever before employers are actively seeking opportunities to create a more inclusive workplace culture and eliminate workplace bias and discrimination.
However, this process can take a long time, and many employers are still on that journey. If you feel concerned about the representation and treatment of minority groups in your workplace, you may feel you need to speak out and raise these concerns.
Or if you think your company isn’t going far enough to recruit a diverse workforce, you may want to have a friendly conversation with your boss about some of the steps they could take. Whatever your scenario, this can be a tricky conversation to have.
What is diversity, and what might your concerns be?
The central concept of diversity is the recognition and celebration of our differences. It is the understanding that there is essential value in the differences between people, and the belief that for all organisations, institutions, spaces and platforms to work, they must accurately represent these differences.
It is often assumed that diversity is only related to a setlist of characteristics, such as gender or ethnicity. But in reality, a truly diverse environment will have people of all backgrounds, with all kinds of mindsets, experiences and identities. Having a diverse workforce means showing zero tolerance towards discrimination and embracing all parts of employees and encouraging staff to bring their whole selves to work.
Suppose you feel that your employer is failing to create a culture which embraces these ideas, or you think that there are worryingly low numbers of underrepresented groups in your office, such as women or Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees. In that case, you may be concerned about diversity.
How to raise diversity concerns?
These are very sensitive issues, and for many people, discussing diversity at work is a new concept, so it is understandable if you feel apprehensive. There are calm and easy ways to begin a conversation about diversity with your employer to ensure that all people in your workplace are being valued and celebrated.
- Firstly, if you feel you need to raise these concerns because of discrimination towards yourself or a colleague or because of toxic workplace culture, then speak to HR or formally raise it with your manager, these issues are extremely serious and should not go ignored.
- If you work in a public or customer-facing industry, you can speak to your employer about representing the market that you serve more accurately. It is widely understood that the general public value companies that show social responsibility if you work directly with the public this is even more important.
- One way to discuss the need for more diversity with your employer is to show them the benefits they are currently missing out on by hiring a specific selection of people. For example, by not actively seeking to recruit more women or people who identify as LGBTQ+, an employer is missing out on the experiences and knowledge that these people bring.
- A really valuable way to raise concerns about diversity is by suggesting that everybody does some training. Education is the most crucial tool for creating more equality and inclusion at work. By learning together from a professional, your employer can begin to understand the value of diversity.
For more information, visit our guide to intersectionality in the workplace.