Post-pandemic recovery – why a diversity and inclusion strategy is essential to the success of your business

Figures released recently by the ONS show that the gender pay gap has increased during the pandemic from 7% in 2020 to 7.9% in 2021. This is not a big surprise – women have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis with the burden of childcare and home schooling is forcing many working mothers to request time off, reduce their hours, take unpaid leave or even to leave the labor market completely. Large numbers of women were also employed in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as leisure, hospitality and retail, and were therefore more likely to have lost their jobs.

Statistics show that there is a marked increase in the gender pay gap between employees aged 40 and over compared to those under 40, which is a striking example of the “Maternity penalty” and the significant impact that taking time off the labor market to have a child has on a woman’s career. Cultures of presenteeism, unwillingness to adopt flexible working, high childcare costs, and unconscious biases in recruitment and promotion decisions are all obstacles to women’s career advancement.

But it’s not just women who are affected – the boards of many UK companies are unfortunately not representative of society. The highest jobs go disproportionately to those who are “pale and masculine” – white men who are often educated by the elite.

The reasons are mainly unequal opportunities. Many elite educated white men are privileged to have opportunities through their social networks that simply do not exist for those in minority groups. Additionally, it’s a well-known fact that people recruit and promote people they identify with and identify with – people who remind them of themselves. If companies lack management diversity, without education or training, they will continue to make the same hiring and promotion decisions, resulting in a perpetual cycle of employing people of their ilk – as they do. perceive it as “cultural fit.” “

But what if companies didn’t think about “cultural fit”, but “cultural addition?” »What can a diverse and inclusive workforce bring to the organization? The advantages are numerous: –

1. Better business performance

Research shows that diverse teams drive performance. A greater variety of perspectives and experiences has been shown to translate into better decision-making, and companies with diverse leadership teams have greater profit margins than their less diverse competitors.

2. Improved recruitment, retention and engagement

The latest reports suggest that one in four employees are considering leaving their current employer. With today’s candidate-driven recruiting market, companies need to make sure they tap into a diverse talent pool. Increasingly, this talent pool will expect to see various role models in senior management. They will need information about an employer’s diversity and inclusion strategy and their pay statistics by gender. In a recent study, 61% of women said they would take the gender pay gap into account when deciding who they want to work for.

But it’s not just about attracting that talent, retention is just as important. Organizations that understand and respect the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of their team members are more likely to gain long-term engagement from their employees. Engaged and engaged employees are more likely to be productive, achieve their goals, and ultimately stay in an organization. Creating an inclusive culture and a sense of belonging where everyone is valued is essential to stimulate employee engagement.

3. Better business opportunities

Customers, customers and suppliers expect the diversity of society to be reflected in organizations, as it will be in theirs. Companies that form balanced teams that can draw on their own perspectives across genders, generations, cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds will be in a better position to build strong business relationships and identify business opportunities within their organization. current and potential customers. In addition, customers are interested in the diversity and inclusiveness statistics of their suppliers and frequently request this information in “requests for proposals” or information on tenders.

4. Indispensable for managing compliance and reducing legal risk

There are more and more regulations and laws relating to diversity and inclusion. The Financial Conduct Authority proposes to introduce quotas on the representation of women on boards of directors in accordance with similar provisions of the NASDAQ in the United States. Legislation on reporting the gender pay gap may well be extended in the future to include companies with less than 250 employees and the mandatory reporting of the pay gap based on ethnicity has also been proposed. In the United States, lawsuits have been brought against executives who fail to act on diversity and inclusion for failing to fulfill their fiduciary duties as directors.

Allegations of discrimination in the UK are also on the rise. Employers only have a potential defense against these claims if they provide frequent and up-to-date diversity and inclusion training to their employees. With today’s rapidly changing climate of diversity and the rise of social media, managers are increasingly concerned about what they can and cannot say in the workplace and companies need to prepare their people for it. faced with these problems.

Simply put, a diversity and inclusion strategy is no longer a ‘good to have’ – it is essential.

So what steps can businesses take to improve equality, diversity and inclusion?

1. Measure the data

The first step is to analyze your organization’s data because if it is not measured, it cannot be managed. Perform an analysis of your gender pay gap, examine your leadership structure and your diversity statistics. Get an overview of your workplace makeup so you know what areas need to be addressed and can set goals for doing so.

2. Challenge and educate your leaders

Challenge your leaders and encourage them to challenge themselves – it can be uncomfortable, but companies should aim for progress, not perfection. Invest in inclusive leadership training to help educate and equip managers with the goal of removing barriers to diversity such as unconscious bias in hiring and promotion decisions

Educate hiring managers about what increased diversity can bring to the table: new ideas, new experiences and different skills. Progressive and dynamic leaders are those who will learn about the challenges facing various minorities and take action to ensure that under-represented groups are championed and have a platform to achieve their goals.

3. Give your diversity and inclusion strategy the priority it deserves

Strong inclusive leadership is essential. It needs to start with a personal engagement from the CEO / board and filter throughout the organization. Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be just limited to HR responsibilities. Your organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy should be aligned with business goals and given the same priority as any other company-led strategy.

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