Diversity and Inclusion aren’t new topics for organisations. UK Businesses have made some progress in diversifying the workforce. Mainly through legislation and increased awareness of the positive impact a diverse workforce can have on business performance and engagement.
Take for example, the improved representation of women in management roles. Yet there are still significant opportunities for improvement, both when it comes to gender diversity in organisations, and other under-represented groups too.
Where does belonging come in? The sense of belonging in a group is a fundamental human need. So much so, that we have adapted our behaviours to minimise our lack of belonging. In an organisational setting, this can negatively affect underrepresented groups, impacting on mental health, wellbeing, engagement, performance and the likelihood that they will progress to a leadership role.
For all groups, it’s important that they see people they identify with in leadership positions. This can raise the question: Does someone like me belong and have the opportunity for success here?
75% of employees think more diversity is needed in the workplace.
In a diverse workplace, employees with a wide range of characteristics and experiences work together. Visible traits of diversity include: age, gender, language, region, race & skills. Invisible traits of diversity include: religion, culture, education, sexual orientation, socio-economic status.
Here are a few benefits of having a diverse workforce:
- Innovation - Diverse people bring in different perspectives to solve a problem. This can happen fast and efficiently with diverse minds coming together.
- Hiring & Retention - High quality talent understands the value of diversity. Employers who support diverse work cultures have better chances to get and retain higher quality talent.
- Brand Value - Diversity initiatives bring in reputation and brand value of organisations that work across cultures.
- Engagement - When companies support D&I initiatives, 83% are more actively engaged in their work.
48% of employees believe that respect is the most essential factor for a culture of inclusion.
Diversity does not exist without inclusion. Employees who feel included are likely to be more engaged with their team. Higher employee engagement drives higher levels of productivity, retention, and a company’s overall success.
Here are a few ways approaches to increase inclusion:
- Open communication - Leaders and teams need to value each other’s thoughts, opinions and ideas. Employees should feel confident & safe to communicate openly. Transparency, mutual respect and acceptance is more likely to drive inclusion. An anonymous survey tool can be a great way to create safety in providing feedback to support an open communication culture.
- Leadership training - Leaders have the biggest influence in creating an inclusive workplace. Enough training and support must be given to new leaders to build inclusion into their leadership style and make it a fundamental part of how they manage a team.
- Showcase inclusive culture - Organisations need to show that they promote an inclusive culture. As an example, sponsoring events and activities to promote inclusive culture to be a visible ally to under-represented groups.
Belonging has a strong correlation to commitment and motivation at the workplace. It directly influences employee satisfaction, performance and retention. Only 32% of UK office workers feel as though they completely belong within their company. There is definitely room for improvement.
Here are some benefits to belonging in the workplace:
- Good for business - If workers feel like they belong, companies reap large benefits. High belonging is linked to an increase in job performance. This results in a drop in turnover and an increase in annual savings for the business.
- Belonging fosters team collaboration - When employees feel like they belong, they’re much more likely to share ideas and work together toward a common goal. Workplace belonging can help teams feel more inspired, understood, and trusted.
- Allies prevent exclusion - When employees feel they have allies committed to their inclusion, they’re less likely to feel excluded from projects. Even one ally that shows fair and inclusive leadership can foster a sense of belonging in a team.
Being an ally as a leader
Diversity and inclusion is becoming increasingly important for keeping employees engaged. 74% of employees believe leadership is the biggest influence on engagement. Talent leaders need to step up and ensure their organisations foster more inclusive workplaces. This will increase employees’ level of engagement and enhance bottom-line performance.
If staff have low trust in leaders or poor relationships with line managers, it’s highly likely to manifest in disengagement. If you want to improve employee engagement, start with D&I - it has a multiplier effect.
Here’s 3 ways you can become an ally as a leader in your workplace:
- Work hard to encourage participation from everyone on your team - If you’re leading a meeting or a project, explicitly invite participation from everyone, and if someone has not contributed, invite them to share their thoughts either in the moment or afterward.
- Acknowledge people’s expertise and skill - People with underrepresented identities often find their expertise and skills are regularly questioned and held to higher standards. Make it a point to acknowledge their expertise and skills, and solicit their opinions and ideas.
- Recognise people’s achievements - One of the best ways to share with your colleagues, team members and the world what someone has accomplished is by recognizing their achievements. Check out our tips on getting recognition right in your team.
A great way to discover where your organisation is lacking in D&I is through anonymous feedback surveys. At Ten Space, we can help you check in on the engagement and wellbeing of your team. Check out how we can help at www.tenspace.co.uk.