Following a turbulent, expensive and divisive year for many, it would be possible to look to 2023 with some degree of despondency but taking positive measures to create equality in the workplace could change the narrative of your business and change the trajectory for the working year ahead. What’s more, becoming a pioneer for equality may go beyond your own employees and have a knock-on effect on those around you, such as your alliances, stakeholders, clients and consumers.
Thom Dennis, CEO of Serenity In Leadership, shares reasons why a renewed emphasis on equality can help culture and the bottom line in 2023.
- Equality Is Access To A Level Playing Field. Offering a wide range of opportunities, training and promotions so everyone has the same rights, prospects and status regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language and any other kind of social difference, results in fulfilling purpose and objectives. It also, when combined with an acceptance of the inevitability of personal bias creates a productive team whose members feel they have a positive future ahead of them.
- Equality Is Looking In The Mirror. Taking a step back to see the business in the way you are projecting it to those looking in is an essential exercise in reflection. What does your website look like? Could the language you are using actively exclude a particular group? Do you have an overt declaration of your equality policies? If not, why not? If so, is there congruence between your promises and your practice? Focusing on equality helps us improve our language, recruitment, work culture and then our profit margin.
- Equality Is Valuing Your People – Yes They Really Are Your Greatest Assets. If your workplace is one that accommodates the needs of any worker who feels like they are a minority you will want them to know their beliefs and needs are understood. For example, introducing a multi-faith prayer room, or space for quiet and reflection that employees can use freely during a break, means making it known to your employees that they are respected and heard.
- Equality Results In Equity. Equity comes from a place of ensuring fairness. The most obvious example is fair pay, which is a mutually acceptable exchange for skill, experience and commitment and should not be affected by any social differences between us. It is important to regularly review whether groups who commonly encounter pay discrimination are being paid fairly.
- Equality Means Protection. An equal workplace means that there should be no room for discrimination of any sort. Integrating real safeguarding and protection policies for employees to easily and freely report any incidents that may occur, and being responsive and taking meaningful action is fundamental to combatting any hidden prejudice and systemic issues.
- Equality Means Being Proactive. It is important to not become complacent with policies that have been in place for a number of years. Although the intentions behind policies and programmes may have initially been sound, businesses need to stay agile and be ready to adapt or change. We saw the impact of Covid-19 on better flexibility for working from home. Stay ahead by remaining open and continually reviewing policies and strategies.
- Equality Provides A Voice. Gaining a clear understanding of your employee’s experience means pursuing regular, open communication about all aspects of diversity and inclusion, and welcoming constructive criticism. By giving workers the opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback, not only do you gain an account of the genuine experience of your employees, but you also ensure a culture of autonomy and freedom to be heard.
- Equality Means Accessibility. Expecting individuals to have identical requirements and goals results in a lack of diversity. Creating accessible workspaces instantly opens doors for individuals who face any sort of disability and neurodiversity and enables them to bring all they offer to the table. Offering remote working opportunities as well as creating a practical accessible space, for example by installing ramps for wheelchair users, or offering a quiet alternative for those with sound-sensitive needs, are ways of showing that your business actively values equality and inclusion.
- Equality Means Keeping Up To Date With Science and Current Thinking. The social demands for the acceptance of trans people is now an important part of being inclusive. Racial justice is another move that is more than a trend, while increasingly one focus is on the effects on women going through menopause at work.
- Equality Enables Flexibility. Flexibility is necessary if you are to accommodate a diverse group of workers with varying needs, particularly those raising a family alongside their career. Penalising someone for having a family and forcing them to choose between their loved ones and work results in loss of trust, and likely valuable talent.