Why Inclusion & Diversity Is An Executive Priority

Mariana Bodiu, VP of The Inclusivity Partners – looks at the current issues in corporate understanding of this key topic.

Creating inclusive, respectful and engaging workplace cultures is essential for an organisation’ success. Seems just right on paper but how do companies define and create this culture, empowering employees to feel motivated?

If we consult some very scary statistics to get us all thinking…. Research by the mental health charity Mind, identifies long hours, excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines as causes of stress. Mind’s own research of 44,000 employees found 48% of people say they have experienced mental health problems in their current job. According to the Samaritans, UK men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women, while men aged 45 to 49 represent the highest suicide rate cohort.

A core question is whether we spend enough time in the discovery phase to truly understand what matters for our employees. What can we do of great relevance to their motivations rather than come up with a one size fits all programme to just put a check on the list?

We often hear executives saying that “People, their People” are their greatest assets. However the budgets allocated to support employee wellbeing are by far, not the greatest.

The Chief Excutive at Quilter, Paul Feeney stated in a recent interview for citywire, people and businesses need to be more open about mental health issues. After revealing that he himself had his own mental health issues in the past, Feeney said he signed the Time to Change pledge on behalf of the firm. “While movements like these are welcome, it’s really important that businesses fully recognise the value of mentally healthy workplaces and that good practice is embedded in policies and procedures so that the impact is felt by all staff, regardless of role or seniority”.

Johnny Taylor, chief executive officer and president of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), is shaking up workplaces by putting a spotlight on difficult conversations. SHRM launched a national initiative about toxic workplace cultures. The initiative aims to assist companies with facilitating crucial conversations surrounding controversial and uncomfortable topics. These conversations will cover race, religion, toxic workplace issues, politics, LGBTQ and gender equality.

The future of employee wellbeing and professional development in workplace cries out loud for individualised programmes and impactful mentorship.

The workforce is changing and so does the mentality of your employees. Your greatest talents strive for a more authentic, meaningful, work environment where they can feel not only financially remunerated yet also welcomed, understood and truly valued as human beings.

The Inclusivity Partners recognises the importance of this change and values employee wellbeing. We help businesses create an inclusive and diverse working environment by co-creating this strategy with their employees – designing momentum for authentic solutions driven by people for people.

Inclusion and Diversity. The two words that will make the biggest difference to your Business. And about which you know – nothing.

This small Note now – is the first of a series of much longer articles where we look at  key aspects  of the Office Family that will take your business forward in 2020.

Almost every medium to large  company – when asked “what are its biggest assets” – will answer; “our people”.

And yet nowhere, amongst  the public targets and mission statements and KPIs of any company, will you find any value or acknowledgement to look after the wellbeing of its same employees.

What happens is the reverse, that employees at every level are driven to their maximum in terms of output, until they have the health problems that such behaviour creates.  And yet it is couched in fluffy and embracing terms.  Being part of the Team.  You are not a Team Player if you don’t stop for a drink with your “people”. after work.

The facts and impressions are that our larger corporate are not waking up to the fact that what drives the ordinary and even exceptional people – is no longer an adherence to corporate values, but rather an acknowledgement that a work/life balance is now an essential given, in the workplace.

In short – with the recognition of lifestyle issues such as Global Warming, Travel by Plane, Electric Cars, Real-Time Health apps – etc – life itself is changing.  And this change is across the board, in even the simplest of scenarios. At our own Office – it is forbidden to bring a dog inside the building.  Yet recognising the therapeutic values of stroking a little pet –  in at least 10 companies, including our own – a little dog bounds up the stairs and in our own office, sits on the sofa, quietly watching thew world go by, and someone in the office takes the little dog to the park at Fika time.

What this means, is that,  that as a corporate leader, it is now imperative to look at the  “diversity”. of the individual rather than assume that all people are the same and thus fit the same values.

Over the next few weeks and months, we will be publishing a series of longer and more academic articles which go into detail, and looking at organising Workshops that can offer practical ways forward.  This first Note is a starting point. Please watch out for more on the vertical challenges that will need to be saved as part of the RoadMap that we aim to publish in due course.