Tuesday 18 April 2023

What Are the Benefits of a Diverse Workforce?

Original article by Comfort Nkang, Practice Leader, LegalVision.

There are legal protections against discrimination in the workplace based on nine protected characteristics, including race, disability and sexual orientation. As an employer, it is essential that you understand relevant workplace discrimination laws. However, you can go a step further than your legal requirements by promoting diversity in the workplace, valuing your staff and creating an inclusive environment. This is good practice and an essential part of managing your workforce. Many businesses are eager to ensure they have a diverse workforce.

This article will explain the benefits of a diverse workforce. It will explain what a diverse workforce is, the benefits of having one and how to increase the diversity of your workforce.

A Diverse Workforce

A diverse workforce is a workforce that consists of a wide range of people from different backgrounds. As an employer, you value and recognise these existing differences between your employees. Differences are not always ones we can see. Accordingly, a diverse workplace refers to differences in:

  • age;
  • religion;
  • ethnic origin;
  • disability; and 
  • sex.

If you have a diverse workforce, you understand that different perspectives can benefit your workplace and are an asset to your business. 

By enjoying the benefits of a diverse workforce and valuing your worker’s differences, you create an inclusive workplace. An inclusive workplace means an environment where:

  • you value your employees’ differences;
  • your employees feel secure suggesting their ideas; and 
  • all workers aim to make positive changes with your approval.

Benefits of a Diverse Workforce

Having a diverse workforce can have several benefits. For example, it can aid in:

  • the success of your business;
  • your staff reaching their potential;
  • ensuring happy and motivated employees;
  • retaining good staff;
  • having a well-rounded workforce with different backgrounds and perspectives;
  • widening your talent pool;
  • improving your business reputation;
  • catering for diverse customers as well as understanding your customers better; and
  • stopping serious instances of discrimination, harassment and bullying.

You might be unsure whether you have a diverse workforce and an inclusive environment. As such, you could carry out an anonymous staff survey with your employees or equality and diversity monitoring forms for people applying for jobs in your business. Once you analyse a survey, it may reveal any issues in your workplace regarding diversity. Likewise, the data can allow you to resolve any issues in your business by investigating further.

Increasing the Diversity of Your Workforce

To increase your workplace diversity and inclusiveness, you could create a policy for equality, diversity and inclusivity. This type of policy is an ‘equal opportunities policy’. Having this policy in place is not a legal requirement, but it can demonstrate that you take your legal responsibilities concerning discrimination seriously. 

Additionally, when creating a policy, include your employees in the process. For example, consult with them and their representatives, and then use your consultation to create an action plan. 

An action plan may contain:

  • how you intend to ensure staff understand your equal opportunities policy, such as through training;
  • how you will check that both your policy and plan are effective and what evidence you will gather to prove this; and
  • when the plan and policy will start, and who will initiate it.

Your policy should also state any services or activities your business has in place, such as staff networks. A typical policy might state its purpose and aims and point out the commitments of your business towards diversity and inclusion. Your commitment might detail how you:

  • deal with complaints of harassment; 
  • review your employment practice; and
  • monitor the diversity of your workforce.

Once you have a policy in place, you should ensure that you practice it. This should take place in all areas of your business such as:

  • recruitment, where you could focus on targeting diverse job boards;
  • training, which could include diversity training;
  • promotion;
  • dress code;
  • religious practice and beliefs; and 
  • flexible working.

If you are a small business and feel that you do not have the resources for an action plan and policy, you can still try to be inclusive and encourage diversity by offering training to your staff on the subject.

Key Takeaways

There are many benefits in ensuring that your workforce is diverse and inclusive. Unlike the legal requirements to ensure that you do not unlawfully discriminate against your workers, you do not have to provide a diverse and inclusive workforce. However, it is good practice to do so.

Having a diverse and inclusive workplace can help ensure that discrimination does not occur and provide other benefits such as retaining good staff and improving your business reputation. You can try to improve diversity and inclusivity in your workplace by creating a policy for this and an action plan to implement the policy. Once a policy is in place, you need to put it into practice through your recruitment and training processes.

If you need help understanding the benefits of a diverse workforce in England and Wales, our experienced employment lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. You will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents for a low monthly fee. So call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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