Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

HR lessons from the case of George Floyd around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace.

Whilst the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to demand business attention, the recent US conviction in the case of George Floyd’s murder must re-focus our thoughts on the importance of racial equity in our society and workplaces.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement has helped to voice the often-unnoticed hardships that many Black people face, whilst holding organisations accountable for the responsibility to oust institutional racism. We know from CIPD surveys that the younger Millennial and Gen-Z cohorts want a workplace with ethical values and an ethos that matches their own moral agenda. So as more people notice these issues raised by activists, organisations must not stay silent on the side-lines. Now more than ever, it is time to focus on the equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) agenda as an ongoing commitment, and not just a tick box exercise.

Outlined below are some practical, immediate steps employers can take to demonstrate their genuine commitment to racial equality and ethnic diversity:

Articulate your commitment:

Ensure that your dedication to equality, diversity and inclusion is reflected in your policies and procedures and that these then inform everyday practice. Your company’s equal opportunities policy needs to be in a prominent, easily accessible place, regularly reviewed and updated and communicated to staff. Even better, incorporate your commitment to EDI into your core business values, and integrate those values as part of the appraisal process so that staff are assessed against a pledge of race-inclusion.

Avoid a narrow focus:

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is often boxed off as relating to one issue alone. The introduction of Gender Pay Gap reporting has concentrated the discussion of EDI on issues of sexism and maternity discrimination. Media attention is now highlighting the role of EDI in protecting the BAME experience. Ensure your inclusion of one disadvantaged group does not overlook the importance of another; any audits of pay-gaps or barriers to progressions should consider and aim to eradicate any disparities between ethnic groups, different genders, those with and without disabilities etc. The outcome of these audits can then inform your future strategy holistically.

Provide Training:

Advice on employer liability from the Equality and Human Rights Commission instructs that as an employer an organisation is legally responsible for acts of discrimination and victimisation carried out by employees in the course of employment, regardless of whether they knew about or approve of those acts. Avoid business risk by providing regular and compulsory training to all staff on EDI as well as unconscious bias. Manager training will also need to educate staff on the context of EDI in recruitment and promotion.

Ensure that any complaints regarding racism are fully and swiftly addressed in line with the company’s disciplinary and grievance procedure and anti-bullying and harassment procedure.

Communicate and engage:

Ask your employees what they think of your company’s track record on equality and ethnic diversity and ask them for ideas on how this can be improved. Race and ethnicity should be acknowledged, appreciated and respected, not seen as topics to avoid; the appointment of a workplace Diversity Champion may help to foster progression in this area.

The above steps are a good starting point for organisations. Speak to The HR Experts for more detailed advice on your EDI policies and commitment.

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