Maximising the potential of diversity
Diversity in the workplace means many things to many people. To some, it's a box to be ticked, but to others, diversity is an opportunity to embrace a wider spectrum of human experience - and take advantage of a range of benefits. Organisations that are only interested in appearing to embrace diversity are unlikely to enjoy the full benefits of diversity in the workplace.
Almost all workforces will be diverse to some extent, and it makes sense to manage actively for diversity simply because if some employees are poorly integrated, grievances or disputes are more likely, bringing with them financial cost to the company.
But the strongest arguments in favour of diversity point to the wisdom of having an active recruitment policy. Businesses that aim to hire and retain the best personnel - without restrictions on age, sex, race, nationality or religion - have access to a wider talent pool. Employers can gain rich insights and greater cultural sensitivity by having a diverse workforce, which is advantageous when launching products or services in new markets. Having a diverse workforce can also promote creativity and help organisations depart from old traditions, and when a workforce includes a wider range of perspectives, it may produce better decisions. Finally, there are cumulative benefits: as an organisation becomes less rigid and more fluid, it becomes better at adapting and responding to change.
Promoting a truly diverse workforce requires effort, and genuine consideration of how to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds. A superficial commitment to diversity is likely to cost money and sap resources while bringing only limited rewards.
Organisations committed to diversity demonstrate their focus in many ways, such as updating their policies to ensure inclusivity runs through every department. Training can highlight the importance of diversity to all staff members, and remind people that they are obliged to respect their colleagues - regardless of their background or lifestyle. Monitoring any issues that arise is also important, as is dealing with complaints effectively to restore and maintain trust.
Acas provides Training and Business Solutions for employers who want to promote diversity in their workplace, including courses on Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010 and an Equality and diversity advisory service .