The theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, recognising the women who are making strides in climate action. Beyond that, IWD celebrates the achievements and contributions of women from around the globe – whether it is in the workplace, in politics, the STEM fields, or at home.

But even as we celebrate IWD this year, let us remember that diversity and inclusion goes beyond just one day a year. Instead, it’s about policies and a culture that accepts and embraces people from all walks of life, regardless of demographic.

What is diversity and inclusion?

While diversity and inclusion are often referred to in the same phrase, the two do not necessarily mean the same thing. A workplace can look diverse without being inclusive.

For instance, a company’s headcount may include people from diverse demographics. Yet, the company’s culture and environment may not cater for all of them. Perhaps the company has a culture of speaking primarily in a language which not everyone may understand, or team lunches often happen without taking into consideration dietary restrictions.

In such cases, the minority groups are unlikely to stay long in the workplace. For a diverse workplace to be sustainable, inclusivity needs to be prioritised in all echelons of a company.

Why diversity is important in the workplace

But why should companies think of diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Well, inclusive workplaces aren’t just uplifting for employees, it also contributes to better profits, productivity, and performance.

Having a diverse workplace prevents echo chambers from occurring in the workplace, as it ensures different perspectives are always present. This can lead to greater innovation and adaptability among employees. Furthermore, employees who feel included and valued are likely to be more productive and loyal.

The numbers speak for themselves. A study by Deloitte finds that inclusive companies had 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period than non-inclusive ones. They are also 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders.

Meanwhile, McKinsey’s research discovered that firms with gender diversity are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability. Ethnic and cultural diversity also contributes to greater profitability and outperformance.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace

1. Start from the top down

Followers emulate their leaders. If a company’s leadership buys into diversity and inclusion, the team is more likely to follow. Leaders can model inclusive behaviour by encouraging differing perspectives during team discussions, providing transparent and fair performance reviews, and being mindful of the language they are using.

A company’s management is also responsible for implementing anti-discriminatory and anti-harassment policies in the workplace. It takes a firm hand at the top to ensure that staff members recognise such behaviour as unacceptable.

2. Education

Education is key to tackling unconscious bias – a phenomenon where people make judgement about others based on characteristics like race or gender without realising it. Education can help people become more aware of their cognitive processes, recognise if they are being biased, and correct the behaviour accordingly.

3. Inculcate inclusivity into company’s culture

There are numerous ways that companies can do this. For instance, encouraging employees to speak a common language is often seen as fundamental to inclusivity.

Additionally, firms can consider hosting events that promote inclusivity. For example, potlucks can encourage team bonding and foster understanding and appreciation of different cultures.

4. Provide safe spaces and avenues for feedback

Fostering an inclusive workplace is always a work in progress. This is why it is vital to have safe spaces and avenues where employees can provide feedback without fear of discrimination or penalty. Companies can consider setting up an anonymous feedback portal or an independent committee to look into inclusivity and diversity.

At Charterhouse, people are at the heart of everything we do. This is why equality is one of our core values. We believe that every person, regardless of gender, age, race, ability, cultural background, sexuality or religion — has unique talents, skills and potential. We respect and represent who they are without labels, bias or judgement, and we encourage our clients to do the same.

Want to work with us? Reach out to us today.