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Home » Future of work » Building better Diversity and Inclusion through recognition and connection

Derek Irvine

SVP Client Strategy & Consulting, Workhuman

Recognition and celebration of diversity at work leads to a greater sense of humanity in the workplace for everyone.

Recent events in America, and the subsequent ripple effects being felt around the world, have resoundingly shown us that equality in our society is still very much lacking. As the streets fill with protesters demanding justice, and millions of people look to educate themselves about the racial inequalities that are still prevalent in many spheres, so too should we take time to consider the discrimination that occurs in the modern-day workplace.

If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how widespread the problem is, with 50% of BAME NHS staff1 saying discriminatory behaviour played a role in unfair deployment on the coronavirus front-line.

Even before the current crisis, reports of discrimination were rife across UK companies, with Glassdoor finding in its recent Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) survey2, that 49% of employed adults have experienced some form of discrimination at work, whether based on race, age, sexual orientation, or gender. More startlingly, the World Economic Forum estimates that equal pay won’t be achieved for close to 100 years3.

We need to prompt behavioural changes within organisations that will make the workplace inclusive and welcoming of every single person.

Valuing diversity at work

Now is the time to start making a difference, but change won’t happen without raising awareness. We need to prompt behavioural changes within organisations that will make the workplace inclusive and welcoming of every single person. This starts with valuing and embracing the unique contributions that a diverse workforce can offer.

A culture of recognition is key here. In the modern workplace, companies can utilise technology tools – performance management platforms, pulse surveys, and social recognition initiatives – to make sure each and every employee’s individual efforts are seen. This recognition can also be made into actionable data, so that business leaders can evaluate where their organisation is falling short when it comes to D&I, where it is thriving, and how it can look to improve the workplace for everyone in the future.

Those companies that recognise the unique insights each individual brings to work will see increased employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction – all of which encourages employees, and the company as a whole, to flourish. In fact, a McKinsey report found that companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits4.

Creating human connections

The feeling of belonging at work is no small thing. Workhuman research found that 80% of employees who love their jobs find their personal values align with their company’s5, and there is no better way of cultivating this than through authentic human connection.

Whether this means taking the time to celebrate someone’s birthday or new baby at work, or learning about how someone’s life experiences can offer a new perspective, bringing our humanity into the workplace is a powerful way to foster a more diverse and inclusive work culture.

Even when teams are remote, people can still celebrate life’s important moments virtually, whether that’s via an informal instant message or bringing the whole team together on video.

Fostering humanity at work is as straightforward as it sounds. It’s about bringing people together, from every walk of life, to celebrate what makes them who they are and to recognise the contributions and impacts they make on an organisation. Especially with colleagues physically apart during the coronavirus lockdown, and emotions swirling around social and racial injustice, bringing employees and peers together has never been more important.

By sharing and learning from one another’s experiences in a safe space, organisations can help create powerful human connections that foster a sense of belonging and being valued at work.

Workhuman research found that 80% of employees report loving their job when their personal values align with the company’s.
Bringing people together to celebrate what makes them who they are – and recognising the contributions they make – fosters employee engagement and true organisational commitment to D&I.

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