Diversity and Inclusion

So You’ve Been Told You Need to Be More Inclusive…But What Does That Mean?

In today's rapidly evolving workplace, fostering an environment that celebrates diversity and promotes inclusion is not just a moral imperative but a strategic advantage. At EVOLVE, we believe in practical, actionable steps to make your workplace more diverse and inclusive. Here’s how:

What does it mean to be INCLUSIVE

  • To create an environment where everyone is included and feels like they belong.
  • To recognise everyone’s differences and value how those differences make us all unique.
  • To realise that having a diverse workforce makes a better place workplace.

What is DIVERSITY?

  • Diversity refers to the differences – so for examples due to race, gender, culture, religion.
  • By being inclusive you are promoting a Diverse workplace.

Understand the Legal Framework

We hate to bore you with the legalities, but they are there for a reason. Understanding that the legislation is here to support  and protect everyone, employees, candidates, employers alike is key to ensuring you and your team act appropriately.

  • Equality Act 2010: While directly applicable to Great Britain, its principles guide Northern Ireland's policies, promoting a workplace free from discrimination on the grounds of race, age, gender reassignment, marital status, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
  • Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998: Requires public authorities to promote equality of opportunity and regard to promoting good relations across various dimensions including religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Educate You and Your Team

  • Training and Awareness: Conduct regular training sessions to educate your employees about the importance of diversity and inclusion. Use local examples and scenarios to make the training relatable. Reach out to local charities in your area for support. Many will provide you with information for free which you can share with your team.
  • Do your research. Look at what information is available from places like the LRA https://www.lra.org.uk) and Equality Commission (https://www.equalityni.org) . There are often free online courses which cover related topics.
  • Cultural Competence: Encourage understanding and respect for the diversity of communities in Northern Ireland, including the unique cultural, religious, and political backgrounds.

Implement Inclusive Recruitment Practices

  • Job Advertisements: Use inclusive language in your job postings, make sure you are using gender neutral terminology.  Consider using platforms that target diverse applicants.
  • Selection Process: Think about your recruitment practice. Who is shortlisting and what information do they see? There are steps you can take to avoid unconscious bias. Ensure that interview panels are diverse and have multiple individuals involved in the process.

Foster an Inclusive Culture

  • Policies and Practices: Review your company policies through an inclusivity lens. Ensure that your practices accommodate the needs of all employees, such as flexible working hours for parents and prayer times for religious employees.
  • Employee Resource Groups or Employee Representatives: Support the formation of ERGs to give a voice to diverse groups within your organisation. These groups can offer valuable insights into how to make your workplace more inclusive.

Engage and Listen

  • Feedback Mechanisms: Establish clear channels for employees to provide feedback on diversity and inclusion efforts. This could be through surveys, suggestion boxes, or forums.
  • Act on Feedback: Show that you value your employees' feedback by acting on it. Implement changes where necessary and communicate these actions back to your employees. You may need some expert help to do this. Reach out to EVOLVE and we can talk you through options you may have to make some workplace changes.

Monitor and Report

  • Know your responsibilities: Any business with 11 or more employees is likely to be required to register with the Equality Commission  (https://www.equalityni.org) . and monitor the composition of their workforce. Reach out to us at EVOLVE and we will talk you through it.
  • Know your Team: Reviewing the diversity of your workforce will help you to understand if you need to look at your inclusion strategies. Being transparent with these findings and using them to think of new ways to do things, for example changing the way you recruit or where you advertise.
  • Celebrate Success: Recognise and celebrate the successes of your diversity and inclusion initiatives. Highlighting positive outcomes can inspire further commitment among your workforce.

And to conclude on that..

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is a journey, not a destination. At EVOLVE, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities that Northern Ireland presents. By embracing the steps outlined above, employers can not only comply with legal requirements but also enrich their workplace culture, drive innovation, and reflect the community they serve. Let's work together to create environments where everyone feels valued, heard, and empowered to achieve their full potential.

As always get in touch with EVOLVE for support!

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