Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Policies in 2021 and Beyond

Diverse group of warehouse workers in masks

In the wake of a challenging year, many businesses are looking forward to a return to normalcy, or at least something close to normalcy. Though employers were in crisis-mode in 2020, meaningful diversity and inclusion remained a top priority. Promoting diversity and inclusion is especially important as we adjust and innovate to establish new standards. Employers and HR professionals should have the following diversity and inclusion considerations for 2021 and beyond.

Are Diversity and Inclusion the Same Thing?

To begin with, businesses need to recognize the distinctions between diversity and inclusion. These terms are closely related, and often used interchangeably, but it’s important to recognize the difference between these concepts.

Diversity is defined by the variety of different races, cultures, political beliefs, religious sexual orientations, religion, class, and genders. A diverse staff is populated by a myriad of backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, skills, ethnicities, faiths, personalities, genders, and identities. 

In contrast, inclusion is the opposite of exclusion. An inclusive company invests time and effort towards involving, valuing, and respecting its staff. Inclusion is a part of any company’s company culture, and making employees feel involved and empowered is essential, especially during challenging times when anxiety and feelings of exclusion may be exacerbated. For meaningful inclusion, organizations need to take an inventory on which staff members feel excluded and why.

The Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion

Some professionals have the opinion that diversity and inclusion are abstract and intangible, but the impact of diversity and inclusion policies are measurable. The data regarding the benefits of diversity and inclusion stands in contrast to these views. 

  • A two-year research study from Bersin by Deloitte found that diverse companies produce 230% higher cash flows per employee than companies that lack diversity 
  • Gartner reports inclusive teams improve team performance by roughly 30% in more diverse workplaces
  • A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with diversity in management earned a 19% increase in revenue in comparison to companies with less diversity

Though diversity and inclusion is a clear benefit, building an inclusive and diverse culture is easier said than done. Implementing diversity and inclusion policies casts a wider net, while inviting participation, unique perspectives, and contributions. Here are some of the measurable benefits of diversity and inclusion for businesses:

  • Measurable Business Results 

The Harvard Business Review reports diverse companies earn 19% higher revenue than their non-diverse competition. Businesses with above-average race, gender identity, and ethnic diversity are 25% more likely to be profitable than businesses that do not, McKinsey reports

  • Casting a “Wider Net”

Often, HR professionals and hiring managers are short-sighted when it comes to hiring. Using the same narrow qualifiers and disqualifiers for candidates as your competitors creates a limited talent pool. Inclusive hiring practices have been shown to yield higher quality candidates while expanding  diversity at the workplace.

  • Driving Engagement

An often-overlooked part of working life is employee engagement, which is defined as a persistent feeling of positivity and fulfillment among employees. Diversity and inclusion have been shown to make employees feel more engaged, and promotes a holistic feeling of community within organizations, according to the Journal of Applied Psychology

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  • More Productivity & Better Outcomes

Diversity and inclusion have been shown to drive productivity and other measurable business outcomes. According to McKinsey, every 10% increase in gender diversity results in 3.5% more earnings before interest and taxes. The same study found that racially and ethnically diverse organizations are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. In a separate study, the Harvard Business Review found that increased diversity and inclusion in the  workplace resulted in 19% higher revenue.

Challenges to Diversity and Inclusion in 2021

Prior to the pandemic, progress on diversity and inclusion had plenty of room for improvement. A pre-pandemic survey by McKinsey found that respondents across backgrounds lacked feelings of inclusion, and that women, racial minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community felt even less connected. Unfortunately, many of these challenges have been worsened by the global pandemic.

The sectors of the economy most affected by the pandemic were disproportionately occupied by women, McKinsey reports. Retail, hospitality, and food services jobs have higher percentages of women, and have seen a disproportionate rates of unemployment. In the final quarter of 2020, 47% of the African American population was unemployed, in contrast to the 57% of the corresponding white population. Additionally, nearly 40% of African Americans work in industries disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, a full 5% higher than corresponding white workers, McKinsey reports. The majority of Hispanic and Latino workers are employed in the sectors most affected by the pandemic. 

Employers and HR professionals should be cognizant of the pandemic’s effect on diverse communities, and take action to promote meaningful inclusion and diversity policies, without giving unfair treatment. 

An Example of a Diversity and Inclusion HR Policy

With all of the previously mentioned considerations for diversity and inclusion, it can be daunting to start drafting an effective HR policy. How can you promote diversity, inclusion, engagement, feelings of community, and company culture with your policy? Simply put, diversity and inclusion is much more than a policy. Diversity and inclusion is an ongoing commitment to removing barriers to employment and rooting out biases that prevent applicants from being considered. Meaningful diversity and inclusion policies require continued dedication and action from HR professionals and employers.

As a starting point for your company’s policy, here is a template from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

 

[Company Name] is committed to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Our human capital is the most valuable asset we have. The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, inventiveness, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities and talent that our employees invest in their work represents a significant part of not only our culture, but our reputation and company’s achievement as well.

We embrace and encourage our employees’ differences in age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make our employees unique.

[Company Name’s] diversity initiatives are applicable—but not limited—to our practices and policies on recruitment and selection; compensation and benefits; professional development and training; promotions; transfers; social and recreational programs; layoffs; terminations; and the ongoing development of a work environment built on the premise of gender and diversity equity that encourages and enforces:

  • Respectful communication and cooperation between all employees.
  • Teamwork and employee participation, permitting the representation of all groups and employee perspectives.
  • Work/life balance through flexible work schedules to accommodate employees’ varying needs.
  • Employer and employee contributions to the communities we serve to promote a greater understanding and respect for the diversity.

All employees of [Company Name] have a responsibility to treat others with dignity and respect at all times. All employees are expected to exhibit conduct that reflects inclusion during work, at work functions on or off the work site, and at all other company-sponsored and participative events. All employees are also required to attend and complete annual diversity awareness training to enhance their knowledge to fulfill this responsibility.

Any employee found to have exhibited any inappropriate conduct or behavior against others may be subject to disciplinary action.

Employees who believe they have been subjected to any kind of discrimination that conflicts with the company’s diversity policy and initiatives should seek assistance from a supervisor or an HR representative.

Need Help Hiring a Diverse Workforce?

Keeping a diverse staff is crucial for moving forward from the turbulence of the global pandemic. Hiring the workers with a diverse set of skills, experiences, and backgrounds is a crucial step for employers looking to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. If you’d like to work with a staffing firm that supports your commitment to an inclusive workplace, contact TERRA Staffing

Looking for more resources to weather the storm of uncertainty?  Check out our webinar, “Reality Based Change Readiness: Ditching the Drama During Changing Times at Work.”

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