Luton Borough Council was prosecuted by the HSE late last year following an incident at a high school in which an assistant headteacher was attacked by a pupil and left with life-changing injuries.
Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace culture is no longer seen as “management speak” but rather as a necessity for success. As Jesse Jackson, the US politician and human rights activist, noted “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth”.
Whilst it might be a necessity and a legal requirement, it is not always clear how to create this culture, how to share it and then how to maintain it as the organisation grows. The following pointers might help:
Agree your organisation’s inclusivity and diversity goals
These goals are key to ensuring that the requirements of the Equalities Act 2010 (EqA Act 2010), to protect employees from discrimination, harassment and victimisation, are met. They can be based on what has worked in the past or could be more reactive to past events. If one team has experienced more grievances or complaints regards racial harassment, then a major part of this goal setting should be finding the cause within that team, whether it is endemic throughout the whole organisation and potential changes. Be imaginative but realistic. If your organisation is in a sector or industry that is nationwide predominately single-gender, set a goal to open it up, but be realistic as to the speed of the change and set achievable goals for recruiting and changing mindsets.
Incorporate these goals into your organisation’s culture
These goals should not stand alone as a tick-box exercise or useful defence should you need to defend a discrimination claim. Whilst they may be very useful with the latter, they will lose credibility and be so much less effective if they are not part your organisation’s wider culture. For example, if the culture of your organisation is one where leaving on time is considered bad form and working through holidays a pre-requisite for promotion and obtaining your targets, this is not reflecting a culture inclusive of those who have caring responsibilities.
Communicate these goals and culture
There are three essential points here:
- Have precise and intelligible policies that clearly demonstrate expectations of individuals. Ensure these policies are available, and all employees are aware of their existence. Conduct regular and practical training on inclusivity and diversity so that it becomes permanently present in employees’ minds at work.
- Keep communicating these goals so they become part of the DNA of the organisation, e.g. banners across the organisations’ intranet, setting monthly goals for behaviours, award behaviours at special events etc.
Caught not taught
The role of management in creating this culture is vital. All individuals within the management team must understand the organisation’s diversity and inclusivity framework and goals, and be prepared to call out contrary behaviour where necessary. Consistent management behaviour in upholding the diversity and inclusivity goals will then be caught and mirrored by employees further down the organisation. Teaching employees through regular training events will not be enough – the behaviours are best caught.
The whole process of recruitment is a vital way for the organisation to demonstrate its inclusive culture. Under the EqA 2010, recruitment must be transparent and free from discrimination, either direct or indirect. It may be useful to re-think where the vacancies are advertised or whether roles could be adjusted to take account of applicants with caring responsibilities or disabilities.
First 30 days
In American presidential terms, it is the first 100 days that count! In recruitment terms, HR commentators say it’s the first 30 days. This is the key time for training new employees not just in how the systems work and what their new role entails, but for introducing them to the organisation’s culture and ethos.
How can we help?
- Policies – we can draft bespoke policies for your organisation or advise on existing ones so that the message and the culture you want to set around diversity and inclusivity are clear.
- Training – we provide a comprehensive range of training that can be tailored to your organisation and its employees. This can be small group work with members of the management team, induction training for new recruits or general updates for larger sections of employees.
- Recruitment – we can offer advice for the duration of the recruitment process to ensure that each step is free from discrimination and building a culture of inclusivity and diversity.
This is a key area for employers, so if you would like any further information or advice please contact Libby Hubbard.
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