It’s never too late to promote diversity within the workplace. Join us as we explore the benefits of a diverse workforce and provide actionable steps to help you get your company on the right track.

While 2018 shed light some critical issues on the treatment of minorities and women in the workplace, like the #MeToo Movement, there still room for improvement -- especially when it comes to hiring a diverse workforce.

What Do The Current Stats Reveal?

Where do top companies currently stand when it comes to their recruitment and hiring policies? Despite pledges to increase the number of ethnic and female directors at FTSE 100 companies, there’s been little progress. Stats published in October 2018, just two months before the end of the year, by the Guardian actually reveal a slight decline in company directors from ethnic minority backgrounds.  

Last year, BMEs held only 84, compared to 85 in 2017, of the 1,048 directors positions in the top one hundred companies on the London Stock Exchange. While progress has been better for female board members, women still only hold 27.7% of the director roles at FTSE 100 companies. 

So, how do we make 2019 a year of forward momentum? What actions can companies take to promote diversity and capture its many benefits? 

Nine Actionable Steps for a More Diverse Workforce

1) Diversity Training

Whether we admit it or not, almost all of us carry some form of bias, unconscious or otherwise. It could be as simple as preferring to associate with “like-minded” people or only hiring people that “fit” the company culture. The first step in overcoming our bias is to develop an awareness, which is only really achievable through diversity training. Some companies send only their HR team on diversity training, but everyone in the organisation, from CEO to junior employee, should receive training to create an inclusive workplace.

You can uncover unconscious bias with Harvard’s online Implicit Association Test. We think you’ll be surprised by the results!

2) Set-up a Mentor Programme

To encourage employee growth, consider setting up a mentor programme. A mentor programme can be used to foster the professional development of every employee, not just those from diverse backgrounds. Mentor programmes give mentees a dedicated individual to talk to should an issue arise while also providing structured support for career growth.

3) Educate Managers

Inclusive attitudes need to start at the top. Make sure that your managers understand the importance of workplace diversity and how to support people from diverse backgrounds. After all, poor management is one of the biggest reasons employees leave or become unhappy. However, it’s not enough to simply educate your managers, but you also need to empower them by providing the right resources and helping them to create a culture that celebrates diversity.

4) Implement Diversity-Friendly Workforce Policies

Creating a diverse workforce may require you to change or create some new policies. It’s important to consider the impact of your existing systems and whether they might prevent people from applying or staying with your company. For example, setting strict onsite hours might deter parents with school-age children. Using family-friendly policies, like flexitime or support with childcare, can help Moms and Dads get back into work, while policies around recruitment and performance evaluations can ensure that everyone has a chance to grow and succeed.

5) Employee-Led Task Forces

It’s all good and well to create diversity policies, but who will enforce them? Moreover, what happens if discrimination occurs? Setting up an employee-led task force can give employees a place to raise concerns without worrying about upsetting their boss. Task Forces can monitor your workplace and look for any opportunities for improvement.

When establishing a task force, make sure to include a variety of team members from every department as this will make the efforts more transparent while also promoting responsibility and ownership.

6) Create Opportunities for Cultural Awareness

Companies with more than one office are ideally placed to teach their employees about different cultures. You can send employees to other locations, either for a short assignment or a longer one, to give them a chance to learn about their coworkers and the environments they live and work in. It could be as exotic as another country or simply discovering the differences between Scotland and London.

If you don’t have a second office, or even if you do, you could also arrange volunteer days so your employees can interact and learn from people of other cultures. Maybe they’ll spend the day working with disadvantaged kids, helping out at an immigration centre, or lending a hand at a soup kitchen. Volunteering will give them a new perspective on local issues and broaden their horizons for working with people from different backgrounds. It’s also an excellent opportunity for some team bonding.

7) Put Your Party Hats On

Don’t only have a Christmas party and forget about the other holidays. Part of having an inclusive workplace is taking time to celebrate all religious and non-religious holidays, not just the Christian ones. Also, make sure to observe days that promote diversity like Gay Pride, International Day to End Racism, and International Women’s Day.

8) Create Employee Resource Groups

Employee resource groups, or ERGs, can be used internally to help you grow and develop your talent pools and allow managers to gain important insights from these groups in a safe space. However, it’s essential to make it easy for every employee to participate and it’s straightforward to create new ERG groups.

These groups should also have at least one senior leader as they can help guide the group and make sure the group goals align with business goals. Having a senior leader involved will also increase the ERG’s visibility and awareness. Plus, it also signals that diversity is a cause the whole company cares about.

9) Mix Up the Seating Arrangements

It’s easy for people to work and operate only within their teams. But, this focus can be limiting and obstruct, rather than promote, innovation. Mixing up seating arrangements, so that tables include members from different teams, keeps things fresh and allows employees to learn about others whom they may not work with on a daily basis. It also gives employees an opportunity to get a different perspective, learn about their coworkers and meet new people -- all-in-all leading to better performance results across the board.

Diversity at Change Recruitment

Here at Change Recruitment, we take diversity very seriously and strive to create an inclusive workplace. That’s why we’re proud to partner with community organisations like Scottish Mental Health Association, Career Ready and Disability Confident Committed. Find out more about our efforts to create a workplace where everyone can succeed by speaking to one of our dedicated recruitment consultants.

Other Relevant Blogs

Tackling Conscious and Unconscious Bias

Based on a Change Recruitment event, this article explains the two forms of bias and how to overcome them for a better, happier workplace.

Creating Positive Mental Health in the Workplace

Learn about how we’re improving employees’ mental health and concrete steps you can take to promote employee mental wellbeing.

The #MeToo Movement and Its Impact on the Workplace

Read about the changes workplaces have made following the sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the steps you can take to protect employees.