March 18, 2024

How do you Celebrate Neurodiversity in your Workplace?

Every March we mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week in our business, but this year we’ve been talking with members of our team and clients who are neurodivergent about what they’d like to see in how we recognise and celebrate this week.  Is celebration even the right term, is recognition not more important?  And how do we carry this throughout the year, ensuring our commitments extend longer than an annual event?

“I have always thought that calendar dates such as Black History Month and Neurodiversity Celebration Week were a time that people could build awareness, learn, and recognise differences as a great thing. A recent conversation changed this, however, when someone told me that it’s during months like these that they are at their most vulnerable and can receive the most hate. As much as I was saddened by this, it unfortunately makes sense. This was a stark reminder to be the best Ally during these ‘celebrations’ and check in on your team if they hold these identities.”

Katy Morrison, EDI Lead at Connect Three

Understanding Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity encompasses the natural variation in neurological functioning present in human beings. It acknowledges that individuals may think, learn, and communicate in diverse ways due to differences in brain development and processing. Neurodiversity is an umbrella term covering a spectrum of differing skill profiles including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, dyspraxia and more. Rather than viewing these differences as deficits, neurodiversity recognises them as unique expressions of human cognition and behaviour.

“We all carry a bias that other people think the same way we do, but this can be harmful to ourselves and others. In the workplace, in particular, this bias can prevent companies from supporting neurodiverse employees and recognizing their unique challenges.”
Cara Pelletier, Senior Director of Diversity Equity & Belonging at UKG.

The Importance of Recognition

Experts estimate that, on average, 15 per cent of any workforce will be neurodiverse.  Recognising Neurodiversity Celebration Week serves several critical purposes. Firstly, it raises awareness about neurodiversity and challenges stereotypes and stigmas associated with neurological differences. It fosters a culture of inclusion where individuals feel valued and respected regardless of their cognitive differences. Moreover, it provides an opportunity for organisations to reflect on their policies, practices, and accommodations to better support neurodiverse employees.

Not all neurodiverse employees will display the same skills profile, but there are common themes. For instance, a neurodiverse person will often have distinct peaks and dips in their skillset, while a non-neurodiverse person’s skills profile will be less varied. Employers that make adjustments to balance the impact that these dips can have on a person will see greater benefits at the peaks of their skills.  But where do you begin?

Create an Inclusive Environment

It is incredibly important that we recognise that:

  1. Not everyone who is neurodivergent has been diagnosed.
  2. Not everyone who is diagnosed as neurodivergent wants people to know about their diagnosis.


The difficult truth is that as a leader you cannot wait to be handed a list of problems from an employee that you can then set out to solve.  It also means that the very idea of celebrating Neurodiversity by highlighting those who are neurodiverse within your organisation can be a terrible idea!  Being in the spotlight is not comfortable for many people, and we need to respect that in organisations.

Instead, by creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace, you can amplify the voices of people who need to be heard.  By providing platforms for people who wish to share, and encouraging open dialogue and active listening, you can help to foster empathy, understanding, and collaboration throughout your teams.

Positive Impacts and Reasonable Adjustments

“We need to think about the questions we are asking and do these help to give us the information to make the right adjustments for people. The Business Disability Forum suggests, rather that asking what conditions people have, lead with the adjustment 1st. For example: ‘may find indoor lighting difficult’ or ‘may use assistive technology’. Woking to find out the solutions people need, will allow you to make a more positive impact.” Katy

As we said at the start, there are often common themes across people who have a neurodiverse skills profile and while it can seem impossible to cater for everyone’s individual requirements in a large workforce, by making reasonable adjustments, you can often improve every employee’s experience.

Katy’s favourite example of this is that lowered kerbs at pedestrian crossings were originally put in place to aid wheelchair users, but everyone from cyclists to people pushing buggies now benefits from what was originally a reasonable adjustment for a single subset of society.

In the workplace we can think of similar adjustments which can aid everyone.  For example, people who struggle with organisation or long-term planning can be helped with reminders of important deadlines, and clear messages about what is currently a priority for the team.  Reminders and clarity can foster better communication for everyone, so this reasonable adjustment can have a wider positive impact.  Similarly, many neurodiverse skillsets include issues with concentration and focus, whether it be hyperfocus, or a tendency to be easily distracted.  These dips and peaks in skills can both see a positive impact from time blocking and regular short breaks, which again can be beneficial to all people in a work environment.

So our key take away?  Don’t wait for people to come out as Neurodivergent, and instead, use this Neurodiversity Celebration Week as a spark to start conversations in your teams about adjustments that everyone can benefit from and start to build them into your policies and practices.

Further Support

If you’d like more in depth support on celebrating neurodiversity in your business, why not join our webinar with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Neurodiversity in the Workplace on Friday 19th April at 10am?  Sign up here.

March 8, 2024

What Does Gender Inclusion at Work Mean in 2024?

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is Inspire Inclusion. They are asking us to imagine a gender-equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, where difference is valued and celebrated. But what does that mean for your business in 2024?  How do you Inspire Inclusion in a practical, actionable way in your organisation?

We spoke to some of our team members to get their perspective on Inspiring Gender Inclusion in the workplace.

The Motherhood Penalty

According to UK Government research, the pay gap increases sharply at the point where heterosexual couples have children. By the time their first child is aged 12, mothers’ average hourly wages are a third below fathers’.  Women are also three times more likely to work part-time than men, and take on the majority of unpaid carer roles in the UK.  If nothing changes, this disparity carries on throughout their whole working lives, with women aged 55 to 64 being 20% less likely to have a private pension, and those who do have almost 40% less wealth held in them.

Taking time out of work or limiting work hours, often for caring, can have a big impact on pay and progression: differences in labour market participation between women and men are the biggest single driver of the gender pay gap, at 40% Of those who are economically inactive due to caring for their home or family, around 90% are women.

Conversely, women who do not take on the caring roles, and mothers who choose not to take career breaks can feel judged by their choices.  In the UK men who take longer parental leave than their partners are still referred to as ‘swapping’ roles.  Changing the dialogue around roles within and outside of business is vital.

While this problem seems insurmountable, the solutions are simple – flexible working options for all, having a fair and equitable shared parental leave (SPL) policy, and diverse and inclusive recruitment will all help to tackle what has become known as the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ in the UK workforce.

Inclusion for all Genders

“During International Women’s Day, it’s a time to recognise and ensure inclusion is felt and available for women in your workplace, it is also important to note that this has never been exclusive to only cisgender women. To exclude trans women for example is contrary to the very core of achieving inclusive cultures within your organisation and the essence of International Women’s Day.

“I understand that this idea can be challenging for some, but to do inclusion authentically during this time, shouldn’t come at the cost of others feeling excluded at best, and hated at worst.  This is a time to end discrimination for ALL women, and our message is stronger if we can unite together.”

Katy Morrison, EDI Lead

Fair Work and Gender Inclusion

“Helping to amplify the voices of women in the workplace is a practical way that you can be an Ally every day.

Barriers to Gender inclusion happen when there is no fair opportunity and this impacts people's organisational practices as well as behaviours and attitudes to inclusion in the workplace. The Fair Work Convention and Framework is focused on world-leading working lives for success, well-being and prosperity, and must consider gender inclusion, amongst many other things, key to achieving this.

“One of the primary dimensions of Fair work is Effective Voice.  Having an effective employee voice improves people's happiness and productivity at work. There are, of course, legal obligations which protect people from being discriminated against for their gender at a minimum, however, true inclusion goes beyond protected characteristics and looks at truly inclusive cultures. This includes organisations' approach to recruitment, training and development, flexible working, career progression, workplace practices, connection and support and psychological safety in organisational culture.”

Barbara Clark, Lead Explorer

The Importance of Inclusion

“Gender inclusion sparks creativity when it comes to looking at problems as it provides a variety of perspectives.  From my lived experience in India - women, until recent times as this is changing slowly, have been conventionally perceived as the ‘homemakers’. This has traditionally involved taking care of everything at home including the family's health and nutrition, managing relationships with the extended family and friends, planning household expenses and requirements, and more on a daily basis.

Managing such a variety and volume of things so effectively and efficiently, to me is an exceptional quality that can translate so well to the workplace, and is an absolute necessity for organisations if they want to succeed and be sustainable.  The question becomes, how do we build a culture where the skills of these women are truly valued in the workplace?  If women listed these skills on their CV under the title of ‘homemaker’ would your organisation consider them as a candidate?

“For me, cultural diversity and gender inclusion are necessary for organisations that want to accomplish their goals.  By taking advantage of the perspectives, skills and experiences that different social groups have you will make leaps forward in your business.”

Ajeya Akhila Nand, Finance Manager

If you’d like more in depth support on inspiring gender inclusion in your business, why not join Katy at her Glasgow ChIf you’d like more in depth support on inspiring gender inclusion in your business, why not join Katy at her Glasgow Chamber of Commerce webinar on Gender Inclusion in the Workplace on 15th March?  Sign up here.

December 22, 2023

What’s Coming in 2024?

As we hurtle towards a new year, we asked our team to give us the lowdown on the upcoming trends that our customers can anticipate in 2024. From the transformative shifts in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) practices to the burgeoning significance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors, these insights offer a glimpse into the trends that will shape the business landscape in the coming year.

Leadership

Chief Explorer, Colin Lamb, spoke of what he expects leaders to face in the coming year, and how successful organisations will respond:

“2024 is going to be another tough year for business. Just when we thought we were out of the woods with COVID, businesses are being continually challenged on an economic scale and having to rethink what, how and why they do what they do. 

The biggest challenges we will face in 2024 will be the ongoing disruption due to inflation and economic downturn driven by political, economic, environmental, and global events. The ever-evolving change of customer expectations (personalisation and choice) and behavioural change (how people are choosing to buy) and how digital and AI in particular are taking us down roads we never thought possible at an instantaneous rate.  

These three external factors will drive businesses to change, adapt and evolve quicker than we realise. Disruption is afoot and the successful leaders will be at the forefront, while others who do not prioritise this will be left behind. “

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

In 2024, our EDI Lead Katy Morrison expects the discourse on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to take a progressive turn:

“Talent shortages and the need for new skill sets mean that organisations will be stepping beyond traditional talent pools, and focusing on reskilling current employees, and even reintegrating retirees and caregivers back into pivotal roles.  I also believe that we’ll see a push to integrate diverse perspectives into strategy and organisational culture.

Companies will focus on inclusion rather than just compliance, and try to foster better working relationships by identifying commonalities. This approach will involve comprehensive training programs and events, going beyond sporadic or one-off training sessions to create a lasting impact. Companies are gearing up to collect EDI data, set goals, and implement measurements. Aligning with public bodies' practices, top-performing companies are integrating EDI policies and goals, demonstrating a commitment to creating and showcasing impact.”

Business

Next, we asked our Business Director, Jordan Kay, to outline the pivotal business trends he expects our customers to face in 2024.

“Rather than replacing jobs, I believe 2024 will bring a collaborative approach to AI. Businesses are exploring ways to integrate AI into daily operations, enhancing tasks from writing to boosting efficiency. This shift signifies a move towards embracing AI as a tool for augmenting human capabilities and it will, in turn, lead to a focus on shoring up the Skills Gap.

Companies in 2024 will begin reinvesting in people's soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, strategic thinking, and leadership. As technology continues to advance and be implemented more widely, businesses need to prioritise the development of their employees' abilities to effectively use these technologies and collaborate with others in the workplace.”0

Environment, Social Impact, & Governance

Our Chief Sustainability Officer, Mehalah Beckett, offers her opinion on how the ESG landscape will evolve in 2024.

“What I hope to see is 2024 being the start of a shift in the UK business model. B Corp-friendly practices are gaining popularity, with businesses advocating for legal responsibility to benefit workers, customers, communities, and the environment. As The Better Business Act gains traction in parliament, this signals a commitment to aligning profit with broader societal and environmental concerns.

With this in mind, I believe that purpose-driven start-ups, having gained momentum since the pandemic, are set to explode in 2024. Aligning brand loyalty with a meaningful purpose, these businesses are reshaping markets, surpassing competitors focused solely on financial returns.

In terms of environmental impact, businesses will start to transition from their net-zero plans to tangible actions. 2024 demands substantial changes in internal processes and supply chains. Companies are expected to enforce rigorous standards throughout their supply partnerships, ensuring a genuine commitment to addressing climate change.”

October 16, 2023

Menopause in the Workplace: How You Can Make the Difference

With over 30 potential symptoms, perimenopause and menopause can be a debilitating time for those going through it, and it is heartening to see the recent focus ‘Menopause in the Workplace’ has been receiving.  Many employers have taken the first steps to introduce supportive mechanisms, however sadly, the Fawcett Report (2022) reported that 7 in 10 menopausal women still say their workplace still has no basic support – support networks, related absence policies, awareness raising amongst staff - in place.

Many are now more aware of the physical symptoms of menopause, but there is a worrying lack of awareness of the emotional and cognitive symptoms experienced– high levels of anxiety are reported by 51% of those going through menopause, along with 20% diagnosed with depression, particularly in the 3 to 4 years after periods stop.  Other symptoms include poor concentration, loss of confidence, memory problems, panic attacks, anger and irritability - all of which can take a toll on a woman’s working life.

The Business Case for Change

People over the age of 50 are the fastest-growing segment of the UK workforce, yet one in five of those experiencing menopause symptoms end up leaving work before retirement age.  Around half of those experiencing symptoms state that their symptoms had a negative impact on their work, including finding it hard to meet deadlines, concentrate in meetings, make decisions and work effectively with other colleagues.

With it costing upwards of £30,000 to replace an experienced staff member, having a supportive culture, policy and framework will save employers thousands.  Couple that with the additional benefits of reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, improved performance and motivation, increased employee satisfaction, and an overall impact on the reputation and brand of an organisation, it makes sense for employers to introduce impactful yet cost-effective supportive measures for those affected. 

A lack of understanding of the legal implications of not having support in place can also be costly -  ACAS reported a 44% rise in menopause-related tribunals recently,  with some cases paying out around £65,000.  It can be difficult to navigate the different legislation that protects those going through menopause - although there is no specific law covering menopause, the Equality Act (2010) includes protected characteristics such as age, sex, etc.  Also, under Health and Safety legislation, employers must ensure a physically and emotionally safe working environment for all employees. 

Breaking Through the Stigma

Unfortunately, even with its recent spotlight, many going through menopause still find it difficult to speak up in the workplace when struggling - 47% of sufferers say they wouldn’t state if the reason they had a sick day was down to menopausal symptoms.  There are several reasons for this, including being perceived negatively in the workplace (46%), feeling their ability would be questioned (41%), and seeing menopause being treated as a joke by others at work (41%).  

Coping with hormonal and physical changes can leave many women feeling embarrassed, confused and isolated, all making it difficult to be open about their experience. This can result in many women not putting themselves forward for promotional opportunities, not taking on extra responsibilities, and not having the confidence to put their thoughts and feelings forward when required.  Cultural change is the first step in ensuring this group feel safe and protected enough to speak up about their support needs. 

How can Employers support their affected staff?

Putting into place effective support mechanisms is a journey that involves the entire organisation, not just those adversely affected, and there are several points to consider:

  • Listen
    Before introducing any new processes or making any changes, listen to those affected and gain insight into how they feel, how they have been affected and what would help. 
  • Engage
    Changing culture and mindsets will involve the whole organisation, and consulting with as much of the workforce as possible will help prepare employees for any new changes and help embed any new policies and processes. 
  • Equity and Diversity (EDI)
    Any support and policy change must consider transgender women and non-binary individuals – the language used must be inclusive.  Also, bear in mind that menopause is still a taboo subject in some cultures, and some may prefer to access support anonymously rather than face an uncomfortable discussion. 
  • Raise Awareness
    Raising awareness of menopause, menopause myths, and menopause symptoms is the foundation of change, and helping teams understand and support colleagues who are impacted. This can take the form of awareness sessions, workshops, videos, guides, and campaigns. 
  • Manager Support
    Managers must be trained by specialists to support their teams in order to recognise the signs that a team member could be struggling with menopause symptoms, develop support plans, and have difficult conversations. 
  • Policies
    Developing and promoting a relevant and accessible menopause policy that clearly outlines what support the organisation offers and how to access this support, shows that the employer recognises the need for support, values the employee’s continued contribution, and will not be judged for coming forward.  

    Any policy must include tangible support mechanisms, such as flexible working, quiet spaces, sickness and absence support, and being understanding of medication time out. These actions should tie in with other organisational health and well-being policies which can benefit all members of the organisation, such as creating a well-being passport which can promote open discussions between peers.
  • Environmental changes
    Ensuring the environment is set up to support those with symptoms includes having a well-ventilated office, and ensuring there are private areas for those needing to have open conversations, quiet spaces for those needing a noise break, and that any uniforms are made from breathable material – and any other changes highlighted through previous consultation and engagement methods.
  • Allow time
    Time must be spent to build up the correct policy and workplace practices so that people can access the right support. Time must also be given to allow for the cultural change to take place, for the tone and language around menopause to change for the better, so that those affected feel comfortable enough to access support.  Menopause treatment itself takes time to take effect, and it may take some time for women to see some real changes.  Workplaces must allow for this uncertain time, and ensure support is in place throughout this treatment journey.
  • Continual Monitoring
    What milestones can be put in place to ensure the business is progressing in the right direction? Menopause support is an ever-changing field, and regular ongoing monitoring and feedback must be in place to ensure effective support is being offered.

Providing the right support for those going through menopause can feel like a huge task for employers, with several factors to consider such as EDI, stigma, and cultural change.  The focus on menopause does mean that guidance and support are now more readily available – take the first step this World Menopause Day and contact our team here at Connect Three to support you to begin this important journey. 

Sources:

September 29, 2023

How Do you Support People with Dyslexia in Your Workplace?

One in 10 people have Dyslexia – that’s approximately 3.3 million people in the UK workplace. The chances are that someone in your organisation has Dyslexia.  This Dyslexia Awareness Week, we wanted to offer you some practical tips to raise awareness and promote inclusive behaviour in your workplace.

“But No-one I Know Has Dyslexia”

Just because people haven’t disclosed their diversity does not mean that it’s not present, and even if you don’t know if there is anyone in your organisation with Dyslexia, ADHD or any other Neurodivergence, that shouldn’t stop you from creating celebrations and learning events! 

Acknowledging and celebrating differences might be the catalyst that helps people disclose what they’ve been hiding; to open up because now they know that they're welcome in your teams.

You’ll also be showing your people how to support people they meet out with their workplace – friends, family, or clients – who have neurodiverse conditions and how to be inclusive and supportive in all aspects of their lives.

How Do I Know if Someone Has Dyslexia?

Unless they tell you, you probably won’t know.  Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence or education; it occurs regardless of gender, age, ability, or ethnicity and in all walks of life.  Challenges with reading, writing, and spelling may not be visible in adults, as most will have developed good coping strategies. However, tasks that require these skills will require more time and effort than might be expected, and the impact this has on an individual can often go unseen.

How Can I Support People with Dyslexia in My Workplace?

Literacy challenges can impact an individual’s confidence and self-esteem, so ensuring that everyone in your organisation knows they are valued is the first step.

Your goal is to demonstrate inclusive behaviours to all members of your organisation, and avoid negative responses, like patronising or micro-managing, when people do disclose their differences.

Some simple steps might include:

  1. Creating well-being passports to allow people to talk openly about what they need and any reasonable adjustments that may work for them.
  2. Consider things that will help your team universally, like making sure printed materials are easy to read, or adding commonly misspelled words to the company’s spelling and grammar list.
  3. Celebrating more diverse points in the calendar – whether religious or diverse awareness days – to make more people feel welcome.

Let’s Get Practical

Here are some things that we do at Connect Three to help our Neurodiverse learners succeed:

  1. Offer Help Before Someone Asks
    When we provide joining instructions for people attending our training, we always invite people to let us know anything that we could do to make things more accessible and inclusive for them.  If people tell us if they have Dyslexia, what type they have, and therefore what support they need, we can be there to support them.  There is no blanket “one-size-fits-all” approach, but we are happy to flex to suit our learners.
  2. Offer Alternatives
    While we ensure that if we use slides, none of them are text-heavy, we also reassure people that we’ll talk through everything on the slide, so they should not feel pressured to read them.  We provide audio options and different versions of training materials, for instance, we provide versions of our slides with light backgrounds and dark versions so that people can choose what is most suited to their needs.
  3. Keep Communications Short and Give Plenty of Time
    We keep email communication short, and if it’s a long email with lots of necessary information, we say up front “This is a long email, but don't feel pressured to read all of it right now, here is the summary so you know the key points.”  We also make sure things are sent well in advance so that people can absorb the information at their own pace.
  4. Offer Check Points
    We offer 1-to-1 time with people before programmes start, so we can learn more about them and settle them into the learning.  We also follow up afterwards to ensure that any information delivered was done in a way that was accessible for them.

If you need more help with implementing Diverse & Inclusive strategies in your workplace, then please get in touch with me.  I’m Katy, Connect Three’s Lead EDI Consultant and I’ll be happy to talk to you about what we can do to help you.

August 14, 2023

Building Inclusive Workspaces from the Ground-up

Many workplaces have undergone radical changes over the last 3 years – from hybrid working influencing where we work, to the range of technological tools and apps that enable the way we work – the delineation between ‘work life’ and ‘home life’ has become increasingly more blurred. This has had a profound impact on the attitudes and behaviours of people.

A recent workplace report from Gartner (2023) suggests that employees now take more of a values-based approach towards the workplace. According to their research, 82% of employees say that it is important that their company sees them “as a person, not just an employee”. People are actively seeking positive company cultures and inclusive workplaces where they feel respected, valued and trusted by their leaders and colleagues. This can often serve as a determining factor in attracting future candidates and an ongoing motivator for existing employees.

Define Why Inclusion Matters to You

There is a significant body of research which illustrates the economic and social benefits associated with more inclusive workplaces; which includes greater levels of employee engagement, improved wellbeing, staff turnover, and the ability to attract higher quality talent. While these reasons are valid incentives, the decision to move towards an inclusive culture is best served by aligning with the organisation's authentic intentions.

Ask;

  • Why is it important for this organisation to develop a more inclusive culture?
  • What could a more ‘inclusive culture’ look like in this organisation?

Culturally mature organisations seek to build inclusivity in their values, objectives and annual plan to ensure that inclusive practices sit at the heart of their work. This very often starts with a clear purpose.

Make Space for Employee Voices

Psychological safety in the workplace refers to an environment whereby employees feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgement. Empowering employees to speak up and exercise their voice leads to a number of benefits including improved self-perception, higher levels of employee engagement leading, increases in innovative and creative thinking and greater feelings of belonging.

In the context of inclusion, speaking up may result in uncomfortable conversations. Minority groups and marginalised communities often report a feeling of personal psychological fatigue whilst others struggle to broach topics related to inclusion fearing their potential lack of knowledge, or a fear of causing offence. The result is a refusal to address some topics altogether. Creating a deliberate space for employees to express their views and share their vulnerabilities and fears related to sensitive topics requires an inclusive environment which facilitates courage and greater self-awareness.

Start with a Common Foundation

According to the CIPD, workplaces are becoming increasingly age diverse. In some instances, this introduces a layer of complexity as attitudes towards inclusion may vary considerably. Organisations can often turn to training packages to up-skill their staff, however, research shows that training alone is not an effective intervention to drive authentic cultural change. One of the key principles of inclusion assumes that everyone will be approaching learning from different perspectives. Inclusive interventions should help employees arrive at a common foundational understanding of inclusion whilst encouraging them to introspect and reflect on their personal thoughts, behaviours and attitudes towards inclusion.

Commit to the Long-Term

Embedding inclusive practices requires a long-term committed effort at all levels of an organisation. In 2020, many organisations eagerly presented action plans for inclusion. 3-years on, a lesser number have succeeded in taking the intended actions or targets. These behaviours serve to undermine employee confidence, which impacts performance and leads to greater risks of staff attrition. Inclusion action plans, strategies and internal or external statements require clear actions and clear lines of accountability. Consideration needs to be applied to ensure momentum, communication and progress are sustained, measured and reviewed regularly. This cycle of activity encourages the opportunity for refinement and continuous improvement of inclusive practices over time.

Next Steps

If you are ready to take the next steps towards building an inclusive workplace, get in touch to find out more about our EDI Foundations Programme. Or if you would like help with a specific aspect of your EDI strategy, we offer bespoke help and coaching. Contact us to find out more.

August 13, 2023

Why Inclusive Leadership Matters

In today's ever-evolving business landscape, the concept of leadership has transcended beyond mere authority and directives. The advent of inclusive leadership has emerged as a powerful approach that not only drives success but also nurtures a culture of empowerment, collaboration, and authenticity. Inclusive leadership, characterised by empathy, diversity, and open-mindedness, which combined act as a transformative force that can lead organisations to new heights of innovation.

Why Inclusive Leadership Matters

Inclusive leadership is more than just a ‘feel-good’ concept; it is grounded in concrete evidence-based research. Numerous studies from leading sources, such as the Harvard Business Review and Deloitte, have highlighted the positive impact of inclusive leadership on organisations. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, companies with diverse leadership teams are 33% more likely to outperform their industry peers in terms of profitability. These statistics demonstrate that embracing diversity and fostering an inclusive environment is not just a moral imperative; it is a smart business decision.

Embracing Empathy & Open-mindedness

At the core of inclusive leadership lies the ability to empathise and understand the unique perspectives and experiences of employees. Inclusive leaders actively listen to their teams, valuing their contributions and feedback. By creating a safe space for employees to voice their opinions, inclusive leaders harness the full potential of their workforce, leading to heightened engagement and productivity.

A key aspect of inclusive leadership is open-mindedness. Leaders who embrace diverse viewpoints and challenge their own biases pave the way for innovative thinking and creative problem-solving. By encouraging a culture of open dialogue and intellectual curiosity, inclusive leaders foster an environment where every team member feels valued and respected, regardless of their background or identity.

Promoting Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Inclusive leadership goes hand in hand with promoting equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels of an organisation. Leaders who actively seek to increase representation of underrepresented groups not only demonstrate their commitment to equity but also unlock a wealth of diverse perspectives that drive innovation. A study by BCG revealed that companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.

By promoting diversity and inclusion, organisations can attract a broader pool of talent, enriching their workforce with a wide range of skills and expertise. Inclusive leadership also plays a pivotal role in reducing turnover and fostering a sense of belonging among employees, as they feel valued for their unique contributions.

Facing Challenges and Opportunities

While the benefits of inclusive leadership are compelling, implementing it effectively may present challenges. Some leaders may feel uncertain about how to navigate conversations about diversity and inclusion, fearing potential missteps or discomfort. However, these challenges provide opportunities for growth and learning.

Inclusive leadership development programmes can equip leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to create an inclusive environment. By encouraging a growth mindset and providing resources for continuous education, organisations can support their leaders in becoming more empathetic and inclusive.
Find out more about the Connect Three EDI Inclusive Leaders Programme.

Ask the Important Questions

Inclusive leadership is not just a passing trend; it is a transformative approach that can revolutionize organisations. By embracing empathy, diversity, and open-mindedness, leaders can tap into the vast potential of their teams and drive innovation and success. The data and research overwhelmingly support the value of inclusive leadership in fostering growth and thriving organisations.

As we move forward, let us challenge ourselves to be more inclusive leaders. Let us ask ourselves the question: How can we create an environment where every voice is heard, every perspective is valued, and every individual can thrive? The answer lies in embracing the power of inclusive leadership and charting a course towards a brighter and more inclusive future for our organisations and the world they impact.

August 12, 2023

Biases and Microaggressions

The discussion about unconscious or implicit bias is not new. Most workplaces have been offering training on this matter and hoping that this would help make them more inclusive and diverse. However, most of these training sessions and the discussion so far have focused a lot on what biases are and how one can identify their biases. Little has been discussed on what to do with your biases and why it matters. No longer is it enough to be aware of your biases, but we need to take action to break through these. We refer to this as becoming Anti-Bias.

What are Biases?

Biases are the associations that a person makes between different qualities, characteristics, and social groups and they are judgements activated involuntarily without conscious awareness. Throughout human evolution, these associations and judgements have been important for recognising danger quickly and being able to survive. Now, biases can be formed by stereotypes and social expectations and can have a negative impact on our decision-making and our behaviour towards people with certain characteristics or belonging to specific groups.

On a good day our biases can limit our interactions and experiences with others, on a bad day they can present as discriminatory and go against the Equalities Act 2010. This can ultimately leave us open for grievances to be raised against us.

We all have biases, but we do not all have the same biases. Just this information can prove how biases can be learned and unlearned and how they are influenced by each individual’s personal experiences and beliefs, values and perceptions, by the people they are surrounded by, the media they follow, and more.

Taking the First Step

The first step to challenge your biases is to accept that you (and everyone) have them. Then you should start your journey by identifying your biases, understanding where they come from, the impact they have on you and other people, and then you need to take action.

This is a process of self-reflecting, challenging and understanding yourself. It is like putting a mirror in front of you and questioning who you really are, and committing to who you want to be.  You need to be open to the battle between the things you know and accept (“this is how things are”) versus what you can do to make things better for everyone (“this is how things should be”).

There are various tools and methods you can use for this process but none of this can work if you do not put in the effort and make challenging your biases a habit.  It is important that during this process you should not feel guilty as you go along and discover your biases; although these feelings should encourage you to continue your anti-bias journey.

What are Microagressions?

Of course, you are not alone in this. Everyone should be on the same journey for the purpose of achieving an inclusive workplace environment, but there are people who do not want to accept that they have biases, or do not want to challenge them which can lead to exclusionary, offensive, and discriminatory behaviours, that quite often manifest in the form of microaggressions.

Dr Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership” (Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation, 2010).

Becoming an Ally

In the workplace, microaggressions can have a negative impact on people’s daily work life and performance, as well as on team dynamics. In such cases, everyone has the opportunity to challenge others’ biases and microaggressions when they occur, to prevent the perpetuation and tolerance of such behaviours. This can be a challenging task but if you take the right approach, it can hopefully lead to a change of others’ mindsets and behaviours, and to a more inclusive environment for all.

Our masterclass on Allyship helps you to learn the skills to map out your approach in helping to minimise the damaging effect biases can have on people’s feelings about inclusion at work.  Get in touch to find out more.

August 11, 2023

Beyond Protected Characteristics

In the UK people are lucky to be protected from being discriminated against based on nine protected characteristics by the Equality Act 2010. These characteristics are:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion or belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual orientation

We all have one or more of these characteristics, so this law applies to everyone. However, if a workplace limits its EDI strategy and policy to only these nine characteristics, people with other characteristics that can also face challenges, exclusion and discrimination, could feel left out and unprotected.

Going Beyond Labels

The Equality Act is the legal minimum that a workplace should take into consideration when they put their policies and procedures in place. But for a workplace to be entirely inclusive and safe for its people, they need to think beyond the protected characteristics and try to understand their people’s uniqueness and listen to their people’s needs and ideas. A person is not just made up of protected characteristics, labels, and identities; one is not just a woman, Christian, or black. There is much more that each individual brings with them in the workplace, which can be beneficial but can also carry challenges and needs.

For example, if a person that did not go to the university works at a place where everyone else has a university degree, how would that person feel and how the other people might behave towards them? If a person has caring responsibilities for an elderly member of their family, does this person receive the same treatment as those who care for their children, such as flexible hours?

If a person comes from another country, does this person understand and adapt to the workplace’s culture and do the colleagues understand and respect the person’s culture? There are a lot of characteristics that are significant parts of a person’s life and identity and that can play a huge role in their inclusion and well-being, including religion, nationality, socioeconomic background/status, learning and thinking styles, political views, hobbies and interests, talents and skills.

It is also worth noting that The Equalities Act 2010 is based on UK Employment Law, and so if you are part of a business that has people based outwith the UK, you need to consider how you create knowledge sharing that helps to guide and sustain fair treatment of all across teams in different locations.

Protection for Everyone

Equality Act has been evolving and more characteristics were and will be added to the protected list, but in the meantime, workplaces should keep reminding themselves that everyone should be protected and feel safe while they are doing their job.  No one particular group or characteristic is more entitled to EDI than another, and organisations need to act accordingly.

August 10, 2023

Collecting EDI Data

Up until recently when people and workplaces were talking about EDI, they were usually focusing on the D of the acronym which stands for Diversity, and not as much on Equity and Inclusion. That is probably because it is the easiest first step that someone can take at their workplace to begin the journey on EDI. Additionally, Diversity is often misperceived as just numbers; so when workplaces collect EDI data, they tend to generate a report with percentages of various groups of people based on their protected characteristics and highlight how the representation of some of them is higher or lower in their workplace. And even though this kind of data can be particularly useful for understanding and improving the culture of a workplace, it is not enough.

The Numbers

So, let’s start by clarifying what EDI data should be. EDI data should be quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data is what I mentioned earlier – “the numbers”. These show the representation: who works in your organisation; but they can also inform you on what you need to do for people to be included and safe. For example, if you have a high number of people whose religion requires a space for prayer during the day, this is something to consider merely based on their representation. Or if you see a small number of women, this should make you reflect and explore the potential reasons and the impact this might have on your workplace and what you can do to change it.

The way to collect this representation data is by asking the common demographic questions on protected (and other) characteristics through anonymous surveys or questionnaires. This usually includes sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, race, disabilities, marital status, and religion. Many people are sceptical when they are asked to provide this personal information, which is why it is of high importance to ensure you have communicated clearly why you collect this data, and how you are planning to use it. Raising EDI awareness and having an EDI strategy in place can help to make this process easier.

The Qualitative Data

Qualitative data should include information generated by asking additional questions on inclusion, fairness, trust, treatment, values, respect, and other aspects of EDI that you would like to consider for your workplace. Examples of questions include: “I am treated with respect at work”, “I feel comfortable being myself at work”, and “I feel that my voice (ideas/opinions) are heard”. This data in combination with the quantitative data will give you a more holistic picture of your people and the EDI status of your workplace.

The Next Steps

Once you have collected the data, you should use it to inform and prioritise your EDI plans, that way you are more likely to implement things that will really make a difference. You can use the information to act by putting policies in place, making required adjustments, improving your recruitment process, organising initiatives and events for raising awareness, and continuing your EDI journey. When you launch any EDI activities, you can refer back to the data collected to help create buy-in. 

Finally, we will always recommend that you thank your people for giving their data, and ensure that you communicate your findings back to them. This will encourage people to continue to share their data in future as they will understand the benefits.

May 17, 2023

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The 18th of May marks the 12th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).  The purpose of this awareness day is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and how it impacts the more than One Billion people with disabilities or impairments worldwide.

What is Digital Accessibility?
Digital Accessibility ensures that people with disabilities are able to experience websites, web-based services, content and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities.  Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience, and every organisation has the responsibility to help deliver that with their digital services.

Accessibility Removes Barriers and Unlocks the Possible

In September 2022, Connect Three and Passion4Social began a project as part of the Workplace Equality Fund called Accessibility for All.  Since then we have delivered free training webinars, accessibility audits, and face-to-face Accessibility presentations in order to help Scottish businesses to create accessible and inclusive online experiences.

This project aimed to:

  1. Improve employment opportunities and progression policies for people with disabilities, particularly within the technology sector,
  2. Improve knowledge, skills, and practices within Scottish businesses,
  3. Create a more accessible web in Scotland.

Through the webinars, we educated over 300 attendees on creating inclusive working environments and we have seen more than 50 organisations commit to the free accessibility audits.  Accessibility for All has also enabled us to create employment for four people with disabilities and train an additional six people with disabilities to become Accessibility Testers.

We Have a Long Way to Go
While we may be championing this work with our partners Passion4Social, the Connect Three team is well aware that we are not completely digitally accessible ourselves!  We’ve had the accessibility testers carry out an audit on our digital footprint and we are working to improve on the areas that have been flagged by the tests. 

As with any aspect of EDI work, digital accessibility is a journey, not a destination, and we will be continually working to make all aspects of our brand and business as inclusive as possible for everyone in our community.

Which Common Disabilities and Impairments Can Accessible Websites Cater For?

  1. Visual
    People who are blind or visually impaired need alternative text descriptions for meaningful images and buttons, and they will use the keyboard rather than a mouse to interact with interactive elements.
  2. Hearing
    People who are deaf or hearing impaired need captions for video presentations, and require visual indicators in place of audio cues.
  3. Motor
    People with motor impairments may need alternative keyboards, eye control or some other adaptive hardware to help them type and navigate on their devices.
  4. Cognitive
    An uncluttered screen, consistent navigation, and the use of plain language is useful for people with different learning disabilities or impairments.

The Challenge
The main challenge, and the thing we’d like to highlight on this Global Accessibility Awareness Day, is still shifting mindsets and budgets from considering Accessibility as just an aesthetic option, to becoming part of the organisation’s strategy.  There is still a widespread lack of understanding of the service and its relevance for society, which is why we will continue to push Digital Accessibility forward as an important part of any organisation’s EDI strategy.

March 8, 2023

International Women’s Day: #EmbraceEquity

The theme of International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity.  We are supporting their goal to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren't enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.

Our expertise is in Workplace and Organisational development, so we wanted to take this opportunity to look at how if we #EmbraceEquity we can improve work for everyone.

Equity is How Different Perspectives Thrive

Equity in a workplace ensures that every employee has access to the same opportunities – how does that fit into an organisation that practices Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?

  1. Diversity
    Creating workforce of people from different genders, ethnicities, ages, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  2. Inclusion
    Everyone in the diverse workforce is included, heard, valued, and respected.
  3. Equity
    When all members of the diverse, inclusive workforce have equal opportunities to succeed and grow.

When you value equity, you realise that not everyone is standing on the starting line together.  The world we live in is imbalanced and some of your people have access to different opportunities than others. 

Equity is not Equality

Before we start defining the differences, we understand that not all companies can go straight to Equity. When you are starting at zero, aiming for Equality is a great goal to have and not one that we are in any way diminishing. We're just looking at the best possible outcomes for people in an ideal situation. Step one might be Equality, and step two can be Equity.

To get you started, let's look at a simple example to demonstrate the difference. You can provide lunch for everyone in the company.  Equality is handing everyone exactly the same portion of the same meal – in this scenario, some people go hungry. 

Equity is ensuring that the vegans have their own choice of meal, and that diabetics are offered a meal that suits their needs, at a time that they need it. When a company focuses on equality, with one level of employee experience for all, without a view of what everyone actually needs, you can actually end up creating an unfair work environment.

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.

Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.

The Practice of Inclusion

Equity is like the practical side of inclusion, it’s providing everyone the tools and support that they need to achieve the same goals.  Unlike diversity and inclusion which are open to quantifiable metrics, equity is less a focus on the outcomes, and more on the process to get there.

From making accommodations for a staff member with a disability, to offering flexible working hours to a single parent who is juggling work and childcare commitments – inclusion is about giving everyone a voice to ask for what they need, and equity is providing them with just what they need to work to the best of their ability.

It could be learning and development opportunities; opportunities for growth, success and promotions; fair distribution and assignment of projects and tasks.  It’s about ensuring that no one is discriminated against, consciously or unconsciously, because of their circumstances.

Inequity and Skills Gaps

In previous articles we’ve looked at the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive management team, but to achieve this team, you need to give every employee the opportunity to progress to management level – that happens through equity.

Inequity may be particularly obvious in a larger workforce where people are likely to have come from a wider range of educational and socioeconomic backgrounds to get to the same level in the business.  By introducing a strong focus on equity within learning and development, you stop using ‘catch all’ or ‘blanket’ training courses, and instead offer tailored support so that all talented individuals reach their full potential, no matter where they started.

Let’s consider that you are in HR, and have recently employed a woman in her 50s to a director-level position (diversity).  She has a Ph.D. and two decades of experience in your field and is perfect for the role.  You include her in decisions, and ensure her voice is heard, communicating with her frequently on a one-to-one basis so that she can voice any concerns she has about her role or her team (inclusion).  She has just come from a five-year career break to care for a relative, and so has not used Microsoft since Windows 8.  But your induction training doesn’t include digital literacy, so she is unable to perform her job at her best.

You must identify skill requirements, and equip your people with the skills that they require as individuals to be amazing at their job.

Equity is the Hardest to Get Right

Out of the diversity-inclusion-equity trio, equity is perhaps the hardest, and the most resource-intensive to implement – but the cost of staff turnover is higher than the cost of equity.

Here are some little steps you can take towards creating equity in your workforce:

  • Language
    Everyone in your office, or remote workforce, may speak the same language – but is it everyone’s first language?  When it comes to company documentation and contracts where it is important that the meaning is completely understood, with no room for interpretation, consider having them professionally translated into people’s first languages.
  • Communications
    Not everyone communicates in the same way – this isn’t just about ‘language’, some people are better at getting their thoughts on paper, and some people are happier with the spontaneity of a phone conversation.  Think of sending your important messages to staff in the way that’s best for them.
  • Space
    We need to think beyond wheelchair accessibility and consider making spaces inclusive for all.  What about gender-neutral restrooms, dedicated meditation or prayer spaces, lactation rooms for new mothers, and quiet zones for people with conditions such as autism or ADHD to work without overstimulation?

    These considerations don’t end at physical space.  Fully remote companies should encourage employees to block out time for prayer and other personal needs as required, and make sure that introverts and those who find video meetings stressful are given breaks during long sessions.
  • Skills
    You must identify skill requirements on an individual basis, and equip your people with the skills that they require to be optimal at their job.

There is no one route to equity – as with inclusion…that’s kind of the point!  It’s about tailoring to your people’s needs.

Each one of us can actively support and embrace equity within our own sphere of influence. We can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Collective activism is what drives change.

Forging gender equity isn't limited to women solely fighting the good fight. Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women.  Everyone everywhere can play a part.

Next steps

  1. Check out these free courses from the UN on Gender Equality
  2. Take a look at our articles on Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging to find out more.
  3. Download our free DEIB in the Workplace guide.
  4. Get in touch with Connect Three today to find out more about our EDI products and services.
  5. See Barbara's article on Why Imposter Syndrome Plagues Women.

February 1, 2023

How to Mark LGBT+ History Month in Your Workplace

LGBT+ History month falls in February each year and is a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and non-binary (LGBTQ+) history, as well as a time of reflection on the history of LGBTQ+ rights.

Like other National events marking the rights of minorities within the UK community, it is important for businesses to acknowledge this month in a respectful and appropriate way.  As leaders and managers, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone in your workplace feels supported and has a safe space to work in every day, and this month is the perfect opportunity to educate your team and start conversations around allyship.

By using this month to educate employees, management, and yourself about the LGBTQ+ community, its history, and current struggles, you are helping your business to become an accepting and inclusive, workplace where people feel like they belong. 

How can your business mark LGBT+ History Month?

  • Take action to make workplaces a safe space by reviewing (or creating) your policies and protections for LGBTQ+ colleagues.
  • Use this month as an opportunity to assess your culture and ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is not accepted.
  • Include your team in the decisions, ideas or campaigns you’re running. It’s important to accurately represent the group you’re campaigning for (especially if you don’t personally identify with it).
  • Think about ways that you can make any activism meaningful rather than “performative” – in other words, changing your logo to a rainbow flag is a lovely gesture, but a better one would be implementing policies to protect your people against discrimination in the workplace.
  • Provide education or point your people towards free resources in order to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ topics and issues.
  • Promote the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people within the organisation by inviting these colleagues to share their experiences at meetings, events or webinars.
  • Share resources internally and externally to help expand awareness of what it means to be LGBTQ+ and how this may impact their working lives.
  • This year the theme is “Behind the Lens” – celebrating LGBTQ+ people’s contributions to the production of film and cinema from ‘behind the lens’.  With that in mind, consider a film night with a discussion afterwards where your team can learn more about the topic in a relaxed environment.

And remember - not everyone will want to share their own lived experiences so don't put pressure on anyone to contribute. Search for books and films to educate yourself as well.

We offer a range of free and subsidised support and resources to teams who are seeking to improve their Diversity and Inclusion Policies in the workplace.  Please get in touch to find out more.

May 18, 2022

Strive to Thrive: Creating Belonging through Diversity & Inclusion

Looking back at our DEIB event in Glasgow in April 2022.

March 23, 2022

Demystifying DEIB – I is for Inclusion

Inclusion ensures perspectives are valued.

Diversity and Inclusion are often talked about hand in hand, but this doesn’t mean they are always working together. Inclusion is about making sure that all members of an organisation are included and valued in business functions. But it’s possible to have a diverse workplace that isn’t inclusive and vice versa. 

Diversity brings more perspectives to your business, and inclusion makes sure they are heard and valued – or as DEI educator Verna Myers famously said; “Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”[1]

As with Diversity, Inclusion sounds great on paper, but how does it translate into daily practice and sync with priorities?

Source: Deloitte

Workplace Inclusion in Practice

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. CEO of SHRM says “It’s a major investment to bring talent into your organisation, so why bring them in if they’re not happy when they get here? You’ve got to get the inclusion part right.

Workplace inclusion is when your people feel valued and accepted in their team and in the wider organisation, without feeling pressure to ‘conform’.  They are supported and helped to thrive at work, regardless of their background, race, gender, age, physical abilities, or socio-economic circumstance.  

The route to achieving this can seem overwhelming, so as with all strategies, the best place to start is at the very beginning so you know how far you still need to go.

Assess Inclusion and Put Measures in Place

Inclusion can come down to perception – whether people feel included as an individual or not – so to measure how inclusive your organisation is, you should consider regularly surveying your people.  You could also create and run focus groups or employee feedback sessions.

You are seeking to identify shortcomings and any discrepancies in perceptions around the organisation. You need to quantify inclusion so that you can figure out where you are and know where you need to get to.

Once you have an inclusion strategy in place, and you have begun to implement the actions from it, you need to continually track the data to ensure that what you are doing is working. 

Educate your people

The route to achieve your inclusivity targets is through education, and where better to start than right at the top?  When it comes to creating and promoting an inclusive workplace, your biggest allies will be your leadership team. Prioritising inclusivity will be a challenge if the leadership team does not prioritise it too.

Inclusive behaviour for leaders can be as simple as learning active listening, encouraging different points of view in meetings, and being more aware of the impact of the language they use.

Alongside training, you should consider one-to-one or small group coaching, so that leaders can ask awkward or sensitive questions in a safe space to give them the confidence to roll out the initiatives to their teams.

What Makes an Inclusive Organisation?

Organisations need to create clear, actionable DEIB strategies which address:

  1. employee behaviour
  2. leadership capabilities
  3. people management policies and practices
  4. culture and values.

Here are some little steps you can take towards creating an inclusive workforce:

  1. Language
    Ensure employees use inclusive language, by training and modelling. Encourage people to share their preferred pronouns.
  2. Communications
    Create a culture of continuous feedback to help build trust, and create an open dialogue that allows people to be honest about their needs, challenges and experience.
  3. Holidays
    A little thing like acknowledging that Christmas does not represent the same thing to everyone, can mean a lot.  In addition to Christian (Christmas and Easter) and secular holidays (New Year’s Day) ensure your company calendar considers holidays and observances for your whole team; and consider making religion specific holidays ‘optional’.

    You can also mark other events as a team, such as Pride Month, and Black History month, and even hold educational events to celebrate the topics.
  4. Rewards
    Who do you single out to reward or praise in the company?  Is it the top salesperson? The ‘class clowns’?  Being inclusive means rewarding less visible contributions as often as the very visible ones.
  5. Comradery
    Most teams have close relationships, but you can encourage mixing with those outside of their immediate demographics by encouraging informal mixers, volunteer days, and more.

There is no one route to inclusion, that’s kind of its point, and if you find it easy to make everyone feel included in your organisation, perhaps it is an opportunity to step back and ask how diverse your company actually is.

Research has shown that companies who actively invest in inclusion, attract better and more diverse talent to the company. Brand perception, team happiness and engagement all increase positively.

Remember, DEIB is about appreciating differences between individuals, and in context with the workplace, ensuring that each of these varying attributes and characteristics are valued, and that the participation of these employees is equal.

Take a look at our articles on Equity, Diversity, and Belonging to find out more.


[1] http://vernamyers.com/

March 23, 2022

Demystifying DEIB – D is for Diversity

Diversity brings more perspectives to your business. 

A diverse organisation ensures that its staff is made up of a range of people.  In an ideal situation, the organisation should be aiming to be as globalised as the world outside of the office doors by hiring people who represent different races, genders, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, religions, ethnicities or national origins, and mental or physical abilities.  That sounds great on paper, but what are the benefits of creating a diverse workforce and how does it translate to hiring policies?

Racial Diversity in Scotland

Often diversity is seen in terms of just multiculturalism, but it is important for businesses to think outside of the ‘ethnic’ model of diversity.  After all, Scotland is not statistically a very ethnically diverse country, with the percentage of the population identifying as white sitting at 96%[1]

A truly diverse organisation needs to integrate differences in age, sexual orientation, language, education, and more.  The fastest growing demographic in the UK workforce is women over the age of 50[2] - how is this demographic represented in your workforce?

What are the Benefits of a Diverse Workforce for a Business?

Financial Benefits

The first statistic often cited when looking at diversity is the financial benefits.  According to a study by McKinsey[3], companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns that are above their national industry median. Companies in the top quartile of racial/ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median. 

Greater innovation

Beyond these economic benefits, a diverse workforce has been proven to boost employee engagement and performance.  In a workplace, as in our wider society, diversity will often result in a broader spectrum of ideas, creativity, and skillsets – all of which is highly beneficial in any growing business.

Source: Science Daily

More engaged employees

When people’s differences are recognised, embraced, and even celebrated within an organisation, people are more likely to be confident in their own abilities, and when people are in a position to better understand each other's different points of view, collaboration is improved, and conflict is reduced. 

Improved talent and customer acquisition and retention

Being a diverse business with a forward-thinking culture will also help with talent acquisition and retention as DEIB is now regarded as a top priority for new graduates when they are considering who to work for.  It will also improve your understanding of your customers by having people who share their experiences on your team.

Source: Glassdoor

How does this translate to hiring?

It is easy to get overwhelmed when it comes time to create a diversity recruitment strategy.  Dismantling existing entrenched hiring policies, especially in larger organisations, can seem impossible, even when everyone involved is completely sold on the benefits of diverse hiring.  The key is to focus on small steps, and you will achieve the bigger goals in time.

The first step, as with any project, is the audit.  You need to assess your current hiring practices to make certain that special care is being taken to ensure hiring is based on merit, and biases related to a candidate’s age, race, or sexual orientation are reduced.  Remember, diversity hiring is NOT workplace diversity for the sake of it but guaranteeing that at all stages of the recruitment process are designed to promote rather than hinder diversity.  That includes everything from candidate sourcing to pre-hire assessments, to contracts, and even onboarding.

While you carry out your audits, and work on creating a wider, more complete recruitment policy, there are small steps you can take right now to help improve your diversity recruitment. 

Improve your job postings by:

  1. Removing ‘masculine’ words from your job posting (try this tool to check your current ad).
  2. Ensuring there are no benefits related to religion in the description (e.g. extra ‘Christmas holidays’ might not be appealing to a Muslim candidate!).
  3. Promoting your diversity friendly characteristics, e.g. flexible working, no ‘forced’ holidays.

At your screening stage you can:

  1. Check your screening criteria for diversity hindrances – if you are known to prefer candidates from certain schools, universities, or even previous companies, you could be decreasing the diversity of your candidate pool.
  2. Try ‘blind hiring’ tools which anonymise applications to help reduce any unconscious bias in your screening process.

Small steps like this are just the beginning, but you need to start somewhere.  If you are seeking to create a diverse hiring policy – get in touch with our HR team for guidance today.

Diversity does not end at Hiring

Remember, workplace diversity doesn't just extend to hiring diverse individuals, it is about appreciating differences between individuals, and in context with the workplace, ensuring that each of these varying attributes and characteristics are valued, and that the participation of these employees is equal.

Take a look at our articles on Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging to find out more.


[1] https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/glasgow-population

[2] https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/menopause-people-professionals-top-tips_tcm18-55428.pdf

[3] https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/organization/our%20insights/why%20diversity%20matters/diversity%20matters.ashx

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