Diversity and Inclusion: how it benefits the workplace

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December 29, 2022

Diversity and Inclusion is not just a tick box exercise. It is an integral part of your wider business strategy and should be treated as such.

“Our differences give us each unique perspective. This can enrich learning, our work, and our lives in general” (Pearson).

The more diverse a business, the better able it is to make informed decisions and work through issues that arise.

Research shows that gender-diverse companies outperform their peers by 15% and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform (McKinsey’s research).

The benefits of diversity and inclusion in education

To construct a diverse curriculum, you need to consider race, ethnicity, gender, sexual, religious, socio-economic status, being able-bodied, and different learning styles (Kick Board for Schools).

An inclusive workplace should encourage all employees to collaborate and participate. True inclusion involves removing barriers and discrimination.

This is beneficial in education for preparing students for a Global Economy. As well as helping them be comfortable with cultural differences, it can reduce prejudices and promote empathy.

Students also benefit from exposure to different historical figures and texts, leading to a broader education. Variety helps to foster creativity, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking. These skills are invaluable to any student preparing for the working world.

Students who are offered and benefit from a diverse education are more likely to be comfortable in a diverse working environment. Diversity isn’t just a quota. It is something that needs to be considered early on in a student’s education, therefore eliminating prejudices which may follow students into the working world.

The financial significance of exam results

The recent exam results fiasco in the UK only highlights how far we have to go to achieve equality in the education system in the UK. Many felt the system was “classist” and a postcode lottery (BBC).

Although the algorithm was eventually overturned and students received their predicted grades, many had already missed out on university places or had accepted alternative offers. This has had an impact on many young people’s plans for the future and has caused mass anxiety for students who have just received results.

The financial significance of grades can be hard to measure; however, it has been found that on average –

  • achieving five A*-C grades, including maths and English, adds £80,000 to a student’s lifetime earnings.
  • two A-levels this increases by another £60,000.
  • a degree will then boost a woman’s earning up by £100,000 over her lifetime and £130,000 for men (Independent).

Exam results are not the be-all and end-all.

Ben Keighley of Socially Recruited wanted students to know that there are many options available to them. Depending on the industry you want to break into there are many routes.

Students who focus on self-taught or online skills such as coding may earn well over the national average, without the traditional qualifications (The independent).

The impact of exam results for BAME students

The impact for many students who have missed out on university places they otherwise would have secured is significant. Many have complained that they were given grades based on their postcodes and schools rather than their performance. BAME students will most likely feel the impact of this the most.

Some schools had A-level grades downgraded by up to 50% before the U-turn a few days later (Huffington Post).

In a recent study (Equality Act Review) analysed the main concerns students were feeling amidst the exam results.

  • 80% of students asked were concerned about their grades being predicted.
  • 85% of students who stated they were concerned about not receiving fair grades were from BAME backgrounds.
  • 2.9% of the respondents expressed that they were worried about anti-BAME bias.
  • 80% were concerned about future education and employment opportunities.

Students also expressed concern over their learning styles. Many students do find that they work harder under pressure and that the difference between mock results and real results can sometimes be substantial.

There was a real concern that the original results released to students did not consider this and therefore meant that students received much lower grades than they otherwise would have. This has had an impact on what university they attend or course they study, maybe even if they have gone to university at all and what their future career opportunities look like.

Workforces benefit from diversity and BAME students mustn’t be hindered by unfair algorithms that do not consider many factors that impact on students’ performance.

The importance of diversity training for managers

Since 2010 there has been a 122% spike in searches for ‘diversity and inclusion manager’. Businesses have realised that a diverse workforce fosters creativity and innovation (HRnews).

So why are BAME candidates still underrepresented in so many fields?

Unconscious bias is one of the large problems hiring managers face. Research has found that candidates with English names are 40% more likely to receive an interview than identical results with Chinese, Pakistani or Indian names (AI for Recruiting).

A strategy is needed as there is no denying the commercial benefit to a diverse team, yet many businesses treat diversity and inclusion as a tick box exercise and not as part of their wider business strategy. This is a mistake.

Other methods that may help in the recruitment process are using pre-employment exercises for candidates to assess their reasoning, what motivates them, and their personality. This is found to help work out a candidate’s suitability without looking at factors such as where they went to school (HRnews).

Diversity and Inclusion considerations

So how do you create a diverse and inclusive environment for your employees?

When creating your approach, are you considering;

  1. What are your values and approach to disability, gender, race, ethnicity?
  2. Does your approach factor in the varied experiences of your employees from different backgrounds?
  3. Do you use stereotypes (this will be alienating to your employees)?
  4. Do you allow open dialogue on alternative perspectives and allow debate?
  5. Do you encourage your employees as individuals to share their interests and lives?

If your business wants to be diverse and an inclusive environment for all, these questions need to be seriously implemented through policies in the company.

How to include Diversity and Inclusion in your recruitment process

As mentioned previously, this is an overall business strategy, but this is led by HR.

The needle must be driven by HR but it is a business strategy.

It is important that;

  • You assign one person to lead and create a strategy at CEO level.
  • Create behavioural standards and hold managers accountable for the results. (You can even hold yourself accountable externally by competing for diversity and inclusion awards).
  • Integrate your diversity and inclusion strategy as a whole into your recruitment process, leadership training, and assessments with clear KPI’s. Areas to focus on are; recruitment, promotion rates, supplier diversity, etc.
  • All staff should be trained on topics such as unconscious bias, but especially HR.
  • Accept and honour multiple religious and cultural practices and strengthen anti-discrimination policies.

Report on your goals and measure progress regularly (Ideal).

This is a top to bottom business strategy.

Diversity and Inclusion KPI’s and Quotas

Whilst positive change has been made, much more needs to be done to promote diversity and inclusion in the UK.

  • In 2020, 51 out of 1097 most powerful UK roles are filled by non-white individuals. This is an increase of only 15 people since 2017 (Marie Claire).
  • At the BBBAwards 2015studies showed ethnic minorities were still underrepresented within Senior Executive roles within UK businesses. In 2017 in London, the ethnic minority population was close to 50%, yet representation in boardrooms and senior management was still in the single, low percentiles.

The first-ever digital debate on gender quotas in Northern Ireland took place this week. There is debate on whether or not this would help or hinder promoting diversity in the workplace. Some believe that they are patronising and naïve, they do not get to the core of the imbalance. The counter-argument is that they can be temporary tools to accelerate necessary change (The Irish News).

Employers need to create solutions, take strategic action, and have key metrics implemented.

Companies should have the duty to monitor diversity and inclusion as they would any other KPI.

AI as a recruitment tool

Blind recruitment and AI automating the early stages of recruitment can be beneficial.

University applications became anonymous is 2017 and graduate employers began to follow suit with Teach First, the BBC, NHS, and local government as well as HSBC, Virgin Money, KPMG, and Deloitte (BBC).

Approaches such as this are a start to eliminating unconscious bias, however, this must be part of a broader D&I strategy.

HR and hiring managers will also be involved in the process and so need to understand their own unconscious biases. AI and technology can’t do the job alone!

Final Thoughts

“Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers” (Josh Bersin).

A diverse business is more likely to experiment and innovate, breaking away from business norms.

When a business lacks diversity, it lacks creativity and the ability to respond effectively to any situation. Businesses who lack diversity are not taking advantage of the clear business and economic benefit of hiring a diverse pool of talent.

It is essential that you create a top to bottom diversity and inclusion plan for your business, and ensure that managers and all staff are correctly trained on diversity and inclusion criteria. AI can help remove unconscious bias from the start of the recruitment process, but HR professionals will also have to understand their own biases and how that can affect hiring decisions.

If you want to know more…

Socially Recruited has worked with thousands of different businesses across the UK and overseas. Businesses must have access to advice and support at these challenging times.

For further information or to trial the service, please contact Marc on the details below.

Marc Voigt

Social Media and Recruitment Specialist

0203 327 0304


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