Diversity and Equality

May 11, 2015

Ok, pop quiz!  So what is Diversity and Equality?

  1. Paying everyone the same
  2. Working with ex offenders
  3. Recruiting people of all ages from all backgrounds
  4. Making your workplace more disability friendly
  5. All of the above?

Diversity and Equality is something that we hear a lot about but not everyone knows exactly what it covers and many are not sure how it applies to them!

When I first started my career, at least once a month I’d hear the expression, “my problems started on the day I employed staff”.  Did they?  Or did your trepidation of the situation cause your problems?  As the years have gone by (and that’s not too many years!), many employers now realise that the success of their business is dependent on the success of their people and that by allowing them to use their skills, knowledge and abilities to the full it will truly benefit the business.

Hopefully, many of us have also learnt to recognise that our people are not all alike, either like each other or us, and that, therefore, we have to treat each person differently, whether they be employees, customers, or stakeholders.

This may seem to fly in the face of equal opportunity which is often seen as treating everyone in exactly the same way.  My challenge to you is to accept that people need to be treated fairly and in ways that are suited to their own particular needs, values and beliefs; this may mean changing your own management style and/or systems.

I remember having a debate with my sister about women playing football, “why not?” asked I, “women are just as good as men”.  My sister on the other hand had a much better equal and diverse attitude, “actually”, she said, “we should embrace all of the good points that make us unique, recognise them, celebrate them and play to them.  If we do that, then not everyone can do everything”.  She was right and businesses need to promote a culture of respect for individuality so that they can get the best of them whilst setting ground rules for the way staff interact, and encouraging team working.

In any business that embraces diversity people will have the opportunity to maximise their potential through their continuous development which will lead them to:

  • feel valued and respected
  • be more loyal and committed to the business
  • want to work to the best of their ability
  • be less likely to suffer from stress
  • want to stay with you, giving you an increase return on your investment, and reducing your recruitment and selection costs.

All of these factors will mean that you will also benefit by becoming an employer of choice, enabling you to select from the best talent available.

In a number of businesses, both those I’ve worked for and with, I have seen evidence that diversity encourages creativity and innovation which gives the business a competitive edge – clearly very important in today’s economic climate.  Teams which comprise mixed ethnicities, backgrounds and gender are likely to be more creative, better able to problem solve and make decisions, and be more productive.  Generally such teams are more flexible in their thinking and less likely to be worried about departing from the norm.  Sheep just continue to follow the rest of the herd, which means a business starts to stop and stagnate whilst all around them are growing, even if that’s just growth to keep up.  The business should also benefit from improved employee relations, less grievances, and more effective management.

There are other benefits too.  Having a diverse workforce which is reflective of your client/customer (internal and external) base can help to identify new products and new markets.  This will help your understanding of your market segment and the behaviour of your consumers.  Organisations that embrace diverse working patterns will be able to provide the greater flexibility now being demanded by clients/customers.  You may even be able to provide a tailored service to meet individual client/customer needs.  Flexible working patterns should also mean that your people will be more successful in their careers as you help them to get the balance right between their work and their personal lives.

Diversity is now being seen as more than equality and the law – it’s about merit.  Successful businesses create workplaces which are inclusive, with everyone being encouraged to contribute to the success of the business which, wherever possible, is shared with its people.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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