In and out of the workplace, its very likely that you will regularly hear words such as equality, diversity and inclusivity. Recent movements such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too have shone a spotlight on the gender and diversity gaps and the lack of equality in many areas of our society and subsequently our workplaces.
The UK is an enormously multi-cultural society, and we are often looked upon as a progressive society and are leading the way in workplace progression opportunities, but how much progress has been made?
Whether it’s women on company boards; the ethnicity pay gap; a lack of ethnic minorities in the workplace; the acceptance of the LGBT+ community; the respect of peoples’ religious beliefs; yes, the UK is moving in the right direction but there is so much more that can be done.
Knowledge and education are key parts of the success in creating a changing workplace which also impacts society. While many may have a basic understanding of the words equality, diversity and inclusion, do we really know what this means when used in the workplace?
If you’re thinking that equality is all about equal rights, you would be correct, but equality in the workplace takes this definition one step further. It’s not simply about ensuring equal opportunities for every employee, but also about accepting each other’s differences too. It’s about being treated fairly, regardless of race, colour, religious identity, gender or disability – the ending of discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 protects people in law against discrimination.
Diversity complements equality. It recognises people’s differences and values their range of different knowledge, skills, experiences and backgrounds. In the workplace, diversity encourages us to recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all, and that by acknowledging and celebrating our differences, there is the potential to have a more productive, progressive, open and happy workforce.
Remember, to not focus on physical differences. There is a huge range of differences in the way people’s brains work, with around 1 in 7 people in the UK being neurodivergent. 1 in 7 people are learning and processing information in a variety of different ways, and while today there is much more awareness and understanding of neurodivergent conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, there is still a lack of support.
This means those who are neurodiverse are often face high stress levels in trying to hide their conditions, or work in a way that does not compliment them, which can affect their both their performance and their happiness within the workplace.
Both in and outside the workplace, inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels valued, confident in raising issues and suggestions with peers, where they feel they can be themselves, accepted and understood.
An inclusive environment ensures everyone has a voice, and it is the responsibility of every individual to ensure that anyone is listened to and that their opinion is valued. By feeling like a valued and accepted member of a workforce, individuals will grow in confidence and gain the belief that they can achieve their work in a way that suits them but also in a way that benefits and adds value to their employer.
The more valued a person feels within the workplace, the more likely they are to have a strong commitment and high productivity level, which benefits the workforce withy team members working together for a common goal.
Recent research into company cultures where individuals trusted they would be treated with fairness, no matter their gender, age, race, or sexual orientation discovered that employees are:
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