Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace are increasingly recognised as topics that need to be acknowledged and addressed by businesses. Recent movements such as Black Lives Matter and more awareness around the LGBTQ+ community have made it harder for businesses to shy away from reviewing their EDI policies. However, it is not only essential that businesses adopt EDI practices for the purpose of a fairer workplace, but the benefits of having a diverse and integrated team offer unique qualities that will also aid a company’s success. It is therefore important that these minority and low-socioeconomic groups are reached so they have the opportunity to develop the skills that will help them succeed in the workplace and ensure the future workplace is one of diversity and equality.
How EDI can benefit a business
Embracing diversity and inclusion and providing equality go a long way in promoting a work culture that values talent beyond stereotypes. An inclusive workplace fosters better productivity and efficiency and breathes fresh new ideas and perspectives into a business. People from different walks of life with different experiences create new perspectives and ways of working that not only drive innovation but can improve efficiency in a business. Moreover, it is right that the employees and leadership represent and reflect the community that a company serves. This will help them make better choices as there will be more diversity of thought that will understand and accelerate the product.
EDI is particularly important in improving the recruitment and retention of young adults entering the workplace. Candidates and customers, especially young ones, are increasingly asking for business’ EDI statistics and policies before accepting a job or buying from them. Companies are already unofficially being forced into transparency through social media and reviews. EDI is therefore now essential to ensure companies stay relevant and successful. Furthermore, allowing employees to be their whole selves at work and feel comfortable contributing without barriers encourages people to grow and enjoy their time at a job, and in turn, increases retention. Whilst businesses that are more inclusive with who they hire benefit from an increased pool of workers that they have access to which aids recruitment.
The value of skills
Practical skills in a particular field are essential in the workplace, however, ‘soft’ skills are just as important in determining someone’s success in a career. Skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, public speaking, professional writing, teamwork, digital literacy, leadership, professional attitude, work ethic, and career management are applicable to most professions and can be critical to career progression. Training providers, schools, colleges, programmes, and other bodies that teach and encourage soft skills have an important role in encouraging EDI in the workplace so that both individuals and businesses benefit from the rewards it offers.
Rise, the social mobility initiative designed and championed by ICAEW and a number of accountancy firms, is an initiative designed to raise the career aspirations of individuals and to help them develop useful career skills through running workshops. It is aimed particularly at schools that find it hard to engage with employers. Initiatives such as this give minority and low socio-economic background groups access to develop the skillsets that make them more employable and likely to succeed in a role. Training providers and employers can help increase EDI in their company and the workplace as a whole by joining initiatives like Rise or implementing similar programmes that work to encourage soft skills development within the communities that would benefit from it most.