Why Diversity and Inclusion is Important for your SME

In recent years the news seems to be flooded with stories relating to inequalities in gender, race, disability, etc. Just recently the issue of the gender pay gap has reached a crescendo. With consistent media attention towards equality, diversity and inclusion, it’s certainly a good time to address this within your organisation.

Diversity and inclusion within the work place does not have to simply come from a place of benevolence but it can be used to gain a competitive advantage over your business rivals in several ways, a few of which we’ve explained below.

Innovation:

When an organisation is made up of different people from different backgrounds, the opportunity for new innovative and creative ideas can flourish. Every person working within an organisation brings with them a set of their own beliefs and views. It is in the organisation’s interest to have as many different perspectives as possible to enable innovation and creation of ideas and products that they could not have envisioned without them.

Understanding your Customers:

Understanding your market is one of the cornerstones of any worthwhile business plan. Having a diverse organisation enables it to be far more in tune with its customers’ needs by having voices within the organisation that have had the same experiences and beliefs as their target market. For example, in 2019 there were  14.1 million disabled people in Britain and the total spending power of families with at least 1 disabled person is estimated at £274 billion a year (Scope) However in 2020 there were only 4.4 million disabled people employed (Scope). It stands to reason that by employing a workforce that is more diverse, they will be better able to meet the needs and requirements of their audience, which will result in a product or service more suitable to their needs.

Employer Branding:

Being seen as an attractive place to work and attracting the right talent to your organisation is vital to ensure ongoing development and growth and by embracing diversity and inclusion, this can be achieved. Being an organisation that champions diversity and inclusion displays to potential employees that you are a dynamic place to work, with a culture that values and supports its people. As well as attracting the best talent, this positive image could help to attract other organisations that see your business as a valuable, ethical partner.

Employee Retention:

An organisation that is seen to be promoting inclusion within its own people practices demonstrates to its employees that they are valued and respected. When people feel like they are being listened to, they are more likely to buy into the ethos of the organisation. When this happens, it brings employee turnover down and pushes up their productivity.

Diversity and inclusion is not simply something that should be promoted because it is the right thing to do. It has real tangible benefits to every organisation that truly believes in it and implements practices that helps to utilise the diversity that everyone can bring. By embracing inclusion, an organisation is able to get the best out of their people, increasing staff retention and productivity. Therefore the question shouldn’t be why diversity and inclusion is important for your SME, but whether or not you can afford to ignore the benefits that diversity and inclusion brings.

Find out about the BS 76005 – Valuing People Through Diversity and Inclusion framework.

Diversity & Inclusion: A new Framework to support organisations

Do we really understand Diversity and Inclusion and the positive impact that embracing these two aspects can have on an organisation?

Organisations that fully live and breathe Diversity & Inclusion and include it in all aspects of their business are more likely to outperform their competitors.

Every one of us is different from each other in one form or another – this is Diversity. To become an organisation which really values its people, the key is to create a successful, empowered team through acknowledging and respecting peoples’ differences, in whatever form those differences may be. And we all appreciate that valued people = motivated people = happy customers = high performing organisations.

For people to feel acknowledged and respected at work, they need to be in an environment that is collaborative, supportive and respectful, which will in turn increase the participation and contribution of its employees; in other words – Inclusion.

As mentioned, organisations that embrace Diversity and Inclusion are more likely to outperform their competitors, but to live and breathe Diversity and Inclusion, it must start from the top of the organisation. This is not to be seen as an HR project to be implemented. Although it will need to be supported by HR, the ethos must be demonstrated at the highest level to enable it to become embedded into an organisation’s culture. A simple way to test top level commitment is to ask: on the Board Meeting Agenda, along with Finance and IT, is People a standing Agenda item? Commitment and demonstration to people starts at the top and ‘People’ should be heard at the Board!

Organisations that live Diversity and Inclusion and put People at the top of their business agendas on a day to day basis, i.e. as ‘the way we do things around here’, will experience tangible benefits, including:

  • Attracting, retaining and developing talent – a reduction in people turnover and a decrease in recruitment costs
  • Greater talent within people – an increase in productivity and performance
  • Increased people morale – higher motivation which will positively impact on productivity
  • Empowered people – involved people, voices being heard, ideas being generated – all leading to greater efficiency
  • Leaders and Managers who lead and manage with increased confidence – greater team performance
  • Engaged workforce – who will go the extra mile for the organisation

Here at Inspiring, we believe that every employee, or potential employee, has a business wealth that in the right working environment will increase productivity and performance. Our belief is further underpinned by the new BSI Valuing People Diversity and Inclusion Code of Practice – BS 76005. Inspiring is supporting organisations through a package of consultancy that will include accreditation, but more importantly developing plans, policies, processes and of course people in relation to Diversity and Inclusion.

Read more about BS 76005 – Diversity and Inclusion