Why inclusion matters

Written by Simon Benford-Blows

Whilst Diversity and inclusion at work are seen as both morally and economically desirable even those who have made great steps in diversity seem to be missing the mark when it comes to inclusion in the workplace.

Some studies suggest that although you may have a diverse workforce you need to complement this with an effective inclusion programme and only then will you start to see the increased benefits to both employee wellbeing, society and company performance.

Common definitions of diversity tend to focus on the differences between employees in terms of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and disability. However, many miss the 7 key pillars for inclusion: access, attitude, choice, partnerships, communication and policy. 


So, what are the seven key pillars of inclusion?

ACCESS - Access explores the importance of a welcoming environment and the habits that create it. ...

ATTITUDE - Attitude looks at how willing people are to embrace inclusion and diversity and to take meaningful action. ...

CHOICE - Choice is all about finding out what options people want and how they want to get involved

PARTNERSHIPS - Partnerships looks at how individual and organisational relationships are formed and how effective they are.

COMMUNICATION - Communication examines the way we let people know about the options to get involved and about the culture.

POLICY - Policy considers how an organisation commits to and takes responsibility for inclusion

Inclusion can be described as creating an environment where differences are not just recognised but they are celebrated, and actively used for the benefit of business and society. But how do businesses engage with this debate and drive diversity and inclusion in their organisations?


Responding to demographic graphics

In addition, the UK labour market and workplaces must become more inclusive in order to respond adequately to demographic changes (for example an ageing workforce, more ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and more migrant employees) and demands for social change (especially concerning the rights of women, families and the disabled). Therefore, enabling all people fair access to work has social and economic benefits for us all.


How do we achieve inclusivity in the workplace?

Unfortunately, despite an increasing focus on diversity and inclusion, the UK workforce and workplaces are still some distance away from reflecting the diversity of the UK population.

More worryingly, working environments are not yet inclusive enough to promote more diverse workforces (especially with regard to LGBT, disabled, and older workers) in the future. Whilst more inclusive organisations offer significant benefits to individuals, firms and society, achieving inclusivity is not always easy and it is not something firms can do alone. What is required is a holistic, integrated approach that involves education and vocational training providers, businesses and the public sector all working together to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to flourish and contribute to society.

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