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How to be more diverse and inclusive as an employer

Diversity is important at any point of the year, not just on LGBT History Month. It’s a major element of a thriving business and thriving economy, as well as a fair and just society. Keeping a diverse environment means hiring and accommodating all religions, sexualities, gender identities, races, and disabilities.

When MM Legal’s philosophy is “Every client matters”, that extends to the workforce that supports the company and workforce that supports the country. We take great pride in our work in employment law, and a big part of that is our dedication to diverse working environments.

To extend this knowledge and creating a fairer world, we’re going to break down how you, as an employer, can create a more diverse and inclusive working environment. Read on for all the details.

Diversity in Scotland

Diversity is very important to the Scottish Government, who not only strive for a more diverse population, but vow to keep their own workspaces diverse in order to accurately represent every citizen in order to offer the fairest policies to everyone.

The Equality Act of 2010 says that an employer must not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.

It covers direct discrimination, meaning treating someone otherwise from how you would treat a preferred person, like hassling a breastfeeding mother, and indirect discrimination, wherein a certain practice is applied that is discriminatory to a protected characteristic.

Why is diversity in the workplace important?

There are a lot of benefits to a diverse and inclusive work environment. The difference in backgrounds and experiences allows for ideas to thrive and a lot more skillsets to be of use. If you have an entire team of the same players working together, they will all voice their one good idea then have nothing left. A diverse workspace allows for an increase in creativity and productivity.

Your company will also gain from a wider world view. If you have business in China, for example, it would be beneficial to you to have someone with experiences in China, or who speaks Mandarin, informing you of cultural differences and pitfalls.

Customers also appreciate businesses that cater to them, and the world is a lot wider and varied amongst its population. It can be a great asset to your business if your customers can relate to your team or if your business represents a certain demographic – or even a few.

So how can you make your workplace more diverse?

The best way to ensure a fair environment for a diverse workforce is to review and strengthen your anti-discriminatory policies. The language of about 75% of anti-discriminatory policies is insufficient to actually drive improvements in diversity and create a fair environment. Review your policies for vague language and incorporate any diversity policies where they are needed. Look at your everyday practices like promotions, benefits, performance reviews, onboarding and eliminating, etc.

Strive to work towards unbiased recruitment with training for recruiters. Try as the best of us might, we have a problem putting our biases aside, even if we know better. They could be under the surface, ready to show when you are considering which potential employee to hire. You can train recruiters and HR staff to recognize and avoid biases for a fairer work environment.

You can also train employees in the workplace on diversity. Executive teams, team leaders and managers will require diversity training to ensure a fair environment. The training might surprise them in the shortcomings that it can expose.

To take it a step further, you can create an inclusion council, which in itself should be as diverse as possible to avoid mistakes of the past. Collect around eight employees to create strategies that will increase and celebrate diversity.

Create an environment where you are safe to celebrate differences between employees. Invite conversation and sharing backgrounds and traditions, and respect traditions that might have to take place in the workplace or require a holiday. You might even have to rethink the physical space of your premises to accommodate for various disabilities and traditions, like a ramp for wheelchairs or a praying space.

To gain more diverse options, offer targeted internships and scholarships tailored to the underrepresented groups with high quality and high value benefits to help them advance in the business. You can also offer diverse mentorship programs that will ensure everyone in the company has the opportunity to advance.

When posting jobs, look at sites that focus on diversity, and highlight that you are a pioneer of diversity and inclusion on the job description so that more candidates will know they are safe in your company.

For more advice on employment law, contact our experts today.