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The latest Bupa Global Executive Wellbeing Index reveals that one in four UK executives believes clear strategies around diversity and inclusion are crucial for employee wellbeing.1 We know varied teams that reflect the broad demographic of an organisation’s customers make better decisions, and new research focused on the venture capital industry shows they also make better investments.2

The Bupa Global Wellbeing Index also found that diversity improves financial performance, with 28% of senior executives believing greater diversity and inclusion help businesses thrive.3

But how can companies ensure they have the resources and systems in place to deliver real equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI)? And will EDI bring any benefits in terms of employee health and wellbeing?

Equality and equity: what’s the difference?

Involved

Catherine Goddard, founder of Compelling Culture, a consultancy which helps organisations develop sustainable change, is convinced there are benefits across the board. She explains, “When people feel involved, valued and heard, they are happier, healthier human beings. Teams are more creative, more innovative, and better at problem solving, which is obviously better for the business, the staff, and customers.”

Effective EDI strategies also ensure managers are equipped to support colleagues who may be struggling with major life events such as fertility treatment, menopause, domestic abuse, PTSD, or gender dysphoria that are impacting their mental health.

Five steps for employers to get it right

Catherine says a common pitfall is to focus on diversity, and in doing so, understate the importance of inclusion. She suggests five steps to ensure work practices are truly fit for purpose:

1. Make sure there is a mix whenever you are putting a group of people together

2. Once you have that mix, make sure everyone feels safe and is invited to join the conversation

3. Go beyond your usual go-to people and deliberately seek out multiple perspectives

4. Ask, ‘what would make people feel included?’ You can do this through engagement surveys or one-to-one conversations, after a meeting for instance you might say to someone, ‘I know you have some great ideas and didn’t get a chance to speak. Is there anything I can do differently in our meetings?

5. Get to know people who are not like you, as it’s likely that you’ll find you have more in common with them than your differences

Individual needs

In the context of health and wellness, there are also issues around individuals with specific needs such as fertility treatment, menopause and mental health support. Some groups are also at higher risk of specific conditions. For instance, people from Black African, African Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes at a younger age,4 and studies show LGBT people are at increased risk of mental health problems.5

Dr Naveen Puri, the Associate Clinical Director of Bupa Health Clinics says, “Age- and organ-specific cancer screening is an important employee benefit, but for people who are transgender, or have gender dysphoria, this relates to the very organs at the heart of their dysphoria.”

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1 https://www.bupaglobal.com/en/your-wellbeing/our-research/wellbeing-index-2021

2 https://hbr.org/2018/07/the-other-diversity-dividend

3 https://www.bupaglobal.com/en/your-wellbeing/our-research/wellbeing-index-2021

4 https://www.diabetes.org.uk/preventing-type-2-diabetes/diabetes-ethnicity

5 https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-016-0767-z

6 https://www.ftadviser.com/your-industry/2021/04/07/employers-unsure-of-responsibilities-for-employee-mental-health/

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