Diversity, Inclusion – Progress

20th February 2023

Marshalls Head of Diversity, Ann Allcock describes three subtle signs that can show you are making progress on the illusive journey towards an inclusive workplace culture.

You’re making strides towards meeting your quantitative diversity targets for recruitment and representation, but you know that creating an inclusive culture isn’t a numbers game. Increasing the percentage of people of colour, women and people from LGBTQ communities in senior roles doesn’t automatically mean that colleagues across the wider organisation feel like they belong, or that teams on the ground are benefiting from the diverse experiences and ideas colleagues could bring every day.

The road to a truly inclusive culture can feel like a never-ending journey. So, what can reassure you that you’re headed in the right direction? Here are three ‘small’ and perhaps less obvious indicators that you may observe – which are actually very positive and significant signs that the dial is shifting.

  1. Senior buy-in and behaviours – what do you notice? Majority-group leaders in your organisation start to use their privilege and platform to speak about DEI. They demonstrate inclusive leadership through small behaviours, and they support the work of staff networks or employee resource groups, encouraging encourage team members to get involved. You recognise that the penny has dropped for those who do not have lived experience of marginalisation, but who do have status and influence. So how did you achieve this? Most likely you created and communicated a strong business case, articulating the link between DEI and strategic goals and priorities. And you brought senior people to the DEI agenda through both stories and experiences that resonate, and a data-led approach.
  1. Diversity monitoring declaration rates – what can you observe? Rates are going up; in other words, applicants and existing employees are increasingly sharing personal identity data with the organisation. This indicates greater trust and a keener sense of belonging and inclusion and shows that employees have confidence that data will be stored and used appropriately. So, what steps have you taken to deliver this progress? You have understood the reasons why employees may be reluctant to share diversity data, and have reassured them about its collection, storage and use. You have also understood the importance of offering categorisation options that work in your business context. You may have enlisted the support of key organisational influencers to message the importance of diversity monitoring, and you have communicated how analysis of the data has supported initiatives that create an inclusive culture.
  1. Representation of diversity in communications, marketing and events – how has this changed? You no longer attend or hear about events where panels lack diversity, and speakers from minoritised groups are invited as subject experts and not limited to talking about DEI or expected to share their lived experience. And imagery in comms and marketing positively reflects diversity as the norm, avoiding tokenism. How did you make that happen? By taking a cross-functional approach to DEI, exploring and articulating what it means for different parts of the business. And by building a nuanced awareness and understanding among comms colleagues of the power of representation and imagery: the risks of reinforcing stereotypes and the opportunities to change mindsets through positive messaging about diversity and inclusion.

That journey to an inclusive workplace may seem long and arduous, but signs and shifts as described above can maintain the motivation to keep on the road.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, or would like to find out how Marshalls can support your inclusive culture journey, please get in touch! aallcock@marshallacm.co.uk

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