Hamilton Forth’s Atif Hussain looks at the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and shares his experiences of how sometimes the simple things can make the biggest impact.

 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) has been in the spotlight in recent months, not only as a result of the disproportionate impact of COVID on BAME* communities, but also in response to the events in the US and elsewhere that has seen a renewed focus on the issues of racism and inequality.

What do we mean when we talk about DE&I?  In short, diversity refers to the diverse nature of the makeup of your business employees, whether that be their gender, race, sexual orientation, neurodiversity etc.  Inclusion within the business setting looks at creating a culture which gives every employee a voice and allows them to fulfil their potential.  Equity in your business ensures that the different needs of each employee are recognised and met.  This blog from employee engagement firm Peakon defines each area in more detail and illustrates the importance of recognising all three areas to achieve true success.

At Hamilton Forth, we know DE&I is a priority for our clients and many other organisations that are waking up to the benefits of a truly diverse, equal, and inclusive workforce.  There are many studies that illustrate the tangible benefits to business of adopting successful DE&I practices.  Research by consulting firm, McKinsey, showed that companies that scored in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to do better than their counterparts that scored lower down the scale, whilst companies embracing ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to outperform those in the bottom quartile.   Research from the Boston Consulting Group uncovered the positive impact of diverse management teams on innovation and innovation revenue, whilst a report by Deloitte revealed that inclusive leadership resulted in improved team performance, quality of decision making, and team collaboration.

So, whilst DE&I continues to be a key focus for organisations at board level, how do you practically implement the idea of inclusivity? What can managers be doing to help make their diverse workforce feel more inclusive?  For me personally, some of the ways in which employers have recognised and accommodated my needs and the needs of other employees have been on the surface, fairly simple, but are areas that historically have often been overlooked.

As a Muslim, an employer providing time and space for daily prayer, and also ensuring that employee gifts are tailored to my requirements go a long way to making me feel seen and valued within my organisation.  A hamper filled with non-alcoholic drinks and edible gifts to suit my dietary requirements beats the ubiquitous bottle of fizz!

Obviously, these gestures won’t reap the rewards of true DE&I on their own – you need to do the work around creating a diverse workforce and putting in place policies to support and encourage employees. At the Livingston James Group we have partnered with the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion to improve our internal processes and help support our clients.

In addition to putting the appropriate processes and policies in place, valuing your employees as individuals, recognising what makes them who they are, and creating a culture in which their differences are celebrated, is a key step on your diversity, equity, and inclusion journey.

 

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* This term stands for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic, although it should be noted that it is not necessarily accepted by those groups it is meant to represent.