How Can You Improve Misconceptions About Diversity in an Organisation?
What exactly does it mean to have a diverse workplace? Do you actually understand what it means to have a diverse workplace? Sadly there are lots of misconceptions about diversity within an organisation and sometimes it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction.
Our panel of diversity and inclusion experts are back to help bust some of those misconception about diversity that might be lurking within your workplace.
Historically, diversity and inclusion were seen as pink and fluffy issues that organisations needed to be seen to be addressing in order to tick a corporate social responsibility box. They are not! While some industries have more misconceptions than others, the business benefits of addressing D&I are well documented and communication of these facts are the key to removing misconceptions within an organisation. It is vital that the organisation’s commitment to D&I and the justification behind it is communicated effectively and role models and case studies are useful tools in order to tell the true story and impact of your D&I initiatives.
Natasha Broomfield-Reid, Head of Development at Equal Approach.
Have a town hall and get it clarified. Some companies will want to initiate a diversity program, but there’s no need to force it. Just start the conversation.
Caroline Stokes, Executive Headhunter & Coach. Founder of FORWARD.
Internal communications and a diversity champion are certainly one way of fostering a culture around this topic. It is important to have an open and transparent recruitment processes and HR practices around workplace behaviours and standards.
As humans cognitive biases can affect the way we respond to people who are different to us, whether that’s due to gender or other diversity factors. Being open-minded and accepting each person on their own merit is not inherent in all of us. If people are made aware of their biases in a transparent environment this can be addressed in a constructive manner.
Nicola Crawford, CFIRM, Chair of the Institute of Risk Management.
By removing fear, what I like to term – face everything and rise. Often its human nature to avoid things that we’re perhaps fearful of. For example a hiring manager might be uncomfortable with hiring someone they have not engaged with before i.e. a person who is transitioning from male to female, a person living with disability, somebody from a different ethnic background or social class to that they are familiar with and so therefore steer away from interviewing or indeed hiring an individual such as this for no other reason than they are intimidated by their difference and the learning they may have to do to best support that person. All employees and hiring managers should attend compulsory diversity and inclusion training that goes beyond unconscious bias.
Joanna Abeyie, Managing Director, Hyden, SThree.
Honesty is key here. If you’re on a mission to change your track record on diversity, you need to make sure you’re shouting about the work you are doing
Sponsoring events and initiatives that discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion is a good place to start. It will help improve the perception of diversity within your organisation. You can also look at joining relevant membership organisations to support you and build your brand image. EMpower and OUTstanding are two membership organisations that work with corporate member firms to drive their diversity and inclusion agenda forward internally.
Suki Sandhu, CEO and founder of Audeliss.
The best way to improve misconceptions about diversity is to talk about it.
Many people feel uncomfortable talking about areas such as ethnicity or disability for fear of saying the wrong thing. We need to shift the conversation from gender (as that is where the majority of companies start) and talk about diversity in its widest sense. Encouraging people to talk about diversity as well as inclusion will enable us to understand different views and different perspectives – and get us much more comfortable with having the conversations. This, in essence, is what diversity is all about – seeking out a listening to different viewpoints and perspectives.
Charlotte Sweeney, Managing Director of Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd.
A common misconception about diversity hiring is that it means lowering the bar. People in majority groups may become resentful if they sense reverse discrimination or feel the need to apologize for their privilege. Don’t brush these concerns off. An inclusive environment must be inclusive for everyone – including people who are struggling to find their place in diversity and inclusion. Always assume positive intent. Every organization has detractors – some of whom you’ll never win over – but oftentimes, all you need is a healthy dose of education, open communication, and transparency.
Sarah Nahm, CEO, Lever.