There is increasing talk of diversity and inclusion (DI) policies in the workplace. But what impact do these policies have on your organization and how do you go about integrating them?
Diversity and inclusion management in business is defined as the attraction and management of practices that promote the inclusion of women, Aboriginal peoples, different cultural communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ community, experienced workers and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, these practices are still not understood by many companies today. Progress toward greater diversity and inclusion, particularly gender parity in senior management, has moved more slowly over the past decade than it should (ref. Women in Business 2021). And while there is greater participation, higher levels of education, and comparable qualifications in 2021, diversity groups are still underrepresented in business and have higher rates of unemployment. Career paths are more difficult and there is still underrepresentation in various functions within organizations (Saba, T. 2019).
Unfortunately, the pandemic has amplified this phenomenon because the cultural and gender diversity in sectors that are doing the best (technology, manufacturing, mining and metals, construction) and those that are in the basic service sector (health, food retail, pharmacy) is mostly homogeneous. Conversely, the forced stoppages in the restaurant, tourism and accommodation sectors, or constraints of telecommuting and school and daycare closures have had a greater impact on women and minorities. As a result, Quebec now has a majority of women and minorities among its unemployed. A diversity and inclusion policy in the workplace is therefore necessary for the survival of companies, not to mention all the other benefits that come with it.
The benefits of integrating a DI policy
According to a study of diversity in the workplace (OECD, 2018, 2020), the reasons for companies to embrace diversity are reportedly to enrich their human capital (67%), stimulate creativity and innovation (46%), address ethical considerations (43%), address labour and skill shortages (37%), and meet legal obligations (37%).
The impact of greater gender diversity within a company is even greater than we might think. Diversity of ideas is linked to better decision-making, better risk management and better financial performance of companies. (Isidro and Sobral; 2015) According to Christine Regimbal, Partner and Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, “There are numerous benefits to a diversified and inclusive corporate culture, starting with a greater potential for innovation and an increased sense of belonging.”
While there may be a strong and genuine intention to make your organization diverse and inclusive, just talking about it or writing it into a policy does not make it a practice. And like any new policy or process, it’s best to start with a realistic plan and clear goals and then define the practices to be implemented.
Diversity and inclusion management best practices
We suggest an eight-step approach based on best practices to help you prepare for the implementation of a DI management initiative in your organization.
Step 1 – Management’s commitment
The first step is to ensure that the organization’s leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion. Ideally, members of management will draft the policy and identify initiatives. A practice leader will then be appointed to ensure implementation and dissemination of key information to all groups within the company.
Step 2 – Set up a committee
The next step is to set up a DI advisory committee or management committee in the organization.
Step 3 – Budget and monitoring
You will need to allocate a specific budget to manage and implement your DI practises. You should identify and implement monitoring and performance indicators related to the DI program, for example: number of women managers/total number of managers; number of visible minority managers/total number of managers; and so on.
Step 4 – Training
There are DI courses available for different levels of managers and employees. Various topics are covered, such as unconscious bias, intuitive practices and reflexes, ingrained preconceptions, employee evaluations, etc.
Step 5 –Programs
You will then need to integrate various programs that promote diversity and inclusion, such as a career management or leadership program.
Step 6 – Procedure review and adjustment
Over time, your organization developed numerous human resource management policies and procedures that will need to be reviewed and adjusted to reflect the new DI management approach.
Step 7 – Mentoring and networking
To create a sense of belonging and attraction that will generate a feeling of social security in your workplace, encourage your teams through diversity mentoring and networking.
Step 8 – Internal survey
Lastly, an internal survey is a good way to determine whether your various approaches are successful and ascertain the change in practices, observe adaptations to standards and procedures and gather employee feedback.
To complement this process, foster relationships with vendors who advocate DI management practices in the workplace.
Efforts must be continued and measured for more than five years in order to properly implement this new organizational culture and to see the results of these changes.
Adapt current policies to support DI management
Since a business is a self-contained system, it is important to review all management practices, especially internal human resource management policies. Many of the policies implemented in companies do not necessarily contribute to better DI management. Some of these should be given greater attention.
For example, review gender neutral job postings, consider postings on targeted networks and anonymous CV recruiting, use employee photos showing diversity in promotional campaigns or on the corporate website.
New employee onboarding and training
For example, include diverse members in corporate presentations and training for new employees, promote the development of inclusive practices among current employees.
Succession and career management policy or practices
For example, ensure that unconscious stereotype biases are avoided in performance management practices, potential assessments, identification of management succession candidates and identification of critical jobs and profiles sought for their staffing.
Work/personal life reconciliation policy and cultural holidays
For example, ensure multicultural representation in the company’s practices, without generating favoritism and by respecting internal equity and organizational integrity.
We now encourage you to take a step back and look at the makeup of your executive committee and board of directors. Ask yourself how you could optimize their membership and promote diversity? Never underestimate the strength of a multicultural, multi-gender and multi-generational team, both in the search for solutions and its impact on the organization’s performance.
Take it one step at a time, and don’t hesitate to consult our experts to integrate a structured approach to promote diversity management within your entity.