Learn to relearn: Integrating diversity and inclusion into your business culture

Payroll and HR | 03.05.2023

by Tor André Wigmostad

As an SME owner, having to worry about hiring in addition to a thousand other things, can make you fall into the trap of recruiting in your own image. Inclusivity and diversity is becoming an integral part of how we assess the integrity of a business. 

“Diversity is about where people's differences are recognized and valued, and inclusion is about creating a sense of belonging so that everyone feels they are part of and supported in all that they do.”
- Caroline Hutchins, group Chief People Officer at Azets

It is also something that potential candidates are looking for while job hunting. A survey by the consultants, McKinsey and Company, found that 39% of people have turned down or decided not to pursue a job because of a perceived lack of inclusion at the business.

Benefits of a diverse team

  • People are happier at work.
  • It removes physical and emotional barriers. 
  • People are more motivated and get involved in the business.
  • You open up your business to a wider and more attractive talent pool. 
  • Diverse teams make better business decisions, which lead to better business performance and productivity. 
  • Regardless of race, gender, or beliefs, people feel respected and valued for their contributions to the business.
  • Inclusive teams make decisions twice as fast as non-inclusive teams almost every time.
  • Diverse workforces are more innovative, more creative, and more in tune with customers' evolving needs. 

How do you go about recruiting with diversity in mind, when you also have a growing business to think about?

Take initiative
Inclusion comes from the top, and it starts with you. Different experiences and viewpoints create a well-rounded team with a wide spectrum of skills. Create a strategy, a roadmap; research your own business, talk to your colleagues and employees, really start to understand people's views, and get their feedback.

“We started with an advisory group of diverse people, and we spoke to them about what we wanted to achieve as an organization. They listened, we listened, we got feedback, and they helped shape our strategic view.”
- Caroline Hutchins, group Chief People Officer at Azets

Cultivate understanding
We all want to make a difference, but the faster you go, the harder it is to control what you're doing. A social understanding of why it has such a positive impact on performance is needed for diversity and inclusivity to become cemented into the way we run our businesses.

“You can easily mandate diversity by saying we need X, Y, Z, and this is what you need to have by 2024. But the cultivation of that inclusive culture is the hardest bit, and the most important, because if you can cultivate that, your diversity naturally follows that inclusive culture.”
- Raj Guy, Head of Resourcing and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at SGN

Focus equally on diversity and inclusion
It's all well and good having more women, more disabled people, people of color, etc. But if they don't feel included and you're not equitable with them, things will unravel pretty fast. We all need to feel valued. Diversity and inclusion is not the responsibility of HR, but a collective responsibility. And it starts from the top. It has to be role modeled.

Be okay with difficult conversations
Empower leaders and employers to have these conversations. Being able to talk about where you are as an organization is really important. It’s easy to become defensive, advocate for taking the easy route, and push this topic away due to more immediately pressing matters, but until you get to that point of acceptance of where you are and where you want to go, you won’t see progress. And that does involve, at times, uncomfortable conversations.

Review your own data
By tracking and collecting data within your organization, you acknowledge where you are today. You can measure diversity by numbers, and they can absolutely tell you if you’ve progressed. Organizers say, 50% of our leaders are female, as an example. But does everyone have an equal seat at the table?

“It's not just looking at where organizations are falling short, but also to celebrate success. And data is not just for yourself, but for sharing with your organization, clients, and customer groups, to recognize the direction of travel you're on, and celebrate those little wins.”
- Caroline Hutchins, group Chief People Officer at Azets

Ask for help
There are free organizations and support networks out there who can come in, work with you, and help you define and develop a strategy, if you have too much on your plate.

Learn to relearn
It's not enough to recruit with diversity in mind. People need to feel empowered. They need to feel a sense of belonging at work to offer their unique perspectives to the problem at hand. Business leaders really need to take the time to evaluate where they are now, collect data on how they're performing when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and be open to unlearning and relearning any unconscious bias. It's important to be self reflecting. The rewards are more motivation, more loyalty, and better business innovation now and in the future. And there's never been a better time to think about this than now.

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About Tor André Wigmostad

Tor André's fate in life was set after growing up playing Pong and programming on computers with punch cards as storage method. Previous to working as Corporate Web Editor in Azets, he came from a similar position in Visma. He also worked with web pages, portals, e-learning and blogging in NetCom. His first real job was as a game designer in FunCom.