A culture of inclusion can benefit workplace health and wellbeing. Making sure everyone is treated equally is morally, the right thing to do. But it can also improve business performance.
A diverse workforce gives a variety of perspectives and backgrounds that can bring a wealth of benefits to an organisation. But, recruiting a diverse workforce doesn’t guarantee that every employee has the same experience or opportunities to perform to their true potential. This means businesses could be missing out on untapped skills and talent.
The gap between female and male employment rates in the UK is the lowest since it was first recorded in 1971. Yet while the UK workforce is more gender-diverse than ever, this hasn’t translated to equal pay and leadership roles. Progression at work for men and women isn’t the same.
The same can be said for black, Asian, and minority ethnic employees. It’s predicted that if the current rate of progress remains the same, FTSE 100 companies won’t meet targets for BAME board representation until 2066. While employees with a disability, or long-term health condition are faced with prejudice or a lack of support to help them reach their full potential.
Inclusion is crucial to allowing people to progress to ensure diversity has an impact.
What is inclusion?
Inclusion is an environment where all employees, regardless of their background, identity or circumstance, are empowered to thrive. It means everyone feels valued at work and creates an environment where they feel encouraged to:
- give their ideas
- raise issues and suggestions to leaders
Or as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says:
“Diversity recognises that, though people have things in common with each other, they are also different in many ways. Inclusion is where those differences are seen as a benefit, and where perspectives and differences are shared, leading to better decisions.”
Why is inclusion good for business?
A report by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams, for example, were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile. While companies in the fourth quartile of both gender and ethnic diversity were 27 percent more likely to underperform on profitability.
The business case is there. A workplace that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion can translate to success. The benefits are wide-reaching for personnel. You can keep employees happy and motivated and performing at their best (and keep them). This can help prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination, which can lead to mental health problems.
Inclusion will give an individual employee a sense of belonging and a voice. It helps them to feel that their individual skills and abilities are valued. While as a wider organisation, it can translate to a healthier work environment, with better outcomes and reduced absenteeism.
How to be an inclusive organisation
To create an inclusive work environment, an organisation needs to have practices and processes in place to break down barriers to inclusion. Educate your leaders, for example, in how to have the conversations that are necessary to make changes. Educate them on bias and exclusion in the workplace to increase their empathy and understanding. Take time to understand the current environment in your business. Or celebrate positive practices you find and take action where you identify any issues.
Here’s a selection of other initiatives that organisations can make to improve inclusion.
- Leadership. Senior managers should be role models for inclusive behaviour. They can be trained to identify issues and act on them.
- Relevant training. Managers should receive training in issues such as workplace stress and mental health. This will enable them to spot warning signs of inclusion failure early. It will also help them to provide appropriate support.
- A workplace inclusion policy. All employees should know what the business ethos is, and what’s expected of them, as well as sources of support. Improve communication with employees and be clear about any policy changes or decisions. Ensure the policy is included in the training and development of all staff.
- Recruitment training for managers. Give management teams the skills to give them an inclusive attitude, and to avoid unconscious bias in decisions.
- Equal pay. Regular checks should be done across an organisation to ensure this is happening.
- Religious beliefs and practice. Organisations should ensure these are respected across the company. This includes ensuring that all employees are treated fairly, regardless of their beliefs or lack of belief.
Hear from our experts
Naomi Humber, Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa Health Clinics:
“An employee who feels psychologically safe, supported and valued as an individual will be able to perform at their best and thrive in their working environment. They are likely to be more engaged with their role and employer’s purpose. This can lead to greater productivity.“
“Those who do not feel that they belong, or are unsupported within the workplace, are at increased risk of developing issues with their health and wellbeing. This in turn can adversely impact themselves and their company.”
Bupa has a range of health information to support you and your team, including:
- Diversity wins. How inclusion matters. McKinsey & Company. www.mckinsey.com, published May 2020
- Building inclusive workplaces. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. www.cipd.co.uk, published September 2019
- Gender wage gap. Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. oecd.org, accessed 9 May 2022
- Disability at work. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. www.cipd.co.uk, accessed 9 May 2022
- Improving equality, diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service. www.acas.org.uk, accessed 9 May 2022
- Inclusion and diversity. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. www.cipd.co.uk, accessed 9 May 2022
- LGBTQI+ inclusivity in your organisation. Mental Health at Work. www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk, accessed 9 May 2022
- Mental health and race at work. City Mental Health Alliance. citymha.org.uk, accessed 9 May 2022