Why Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is about (so much) more than compliance
14th April 2023
Despite the many, varied, and proven business benefits of a diverse workforce and a respectful and inclusive organisational culture, for many companies the focus of equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) remains quite narrow, and limited to legal compliance.
As a specialist e-learning provider, here at Marshalls we have been asked why we have so many modules on ED&I… Don’t we just need one mandatory course which tells people what the Equality Act says, warns them against falling foul of it, and sits alongside other compliance topics such as Information Security, Risk Management and Anti-Fraud?
That’s quite a sensible question, as in order to avoid vicarious liability for discrimination that takes place at work, employers must indeed take ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure that their employees understand what constitutes unlawful behaviour. But that is just the start.
Organisations with greater maturity in terms of ED&I recognise they need to do more to reap the benefits of diversity and of employees who truly feel they belong in the workplace. These organisations realise that they must go beyond what must be avoided, to actively create an inclusive environment where innovation, motivation and engagement thrive.
So, what is inclusive leadership, why is it important, and what characteristics do inclusive leaders display? What does it mean to be an Ally? How can we benefit from the assets that neurodivergent employees bring? What support do those experiencing menopause require, so that we don’t lose their skills from the workforce? What does trans inclusion at work look like? How can we adopt inclusive recruitment so that we hire the best people? Do we really understand the different forms that racism can take, and how we start the journey towards being an anti-racist organisation?
There are many, many topics which fall under the broad banner of ED&I. We can start to explore these through e-learning, and ideally through in-person training too. Enhanced awareness and understanding will help minimise the risk of discrimination cases occurring and of legal challenges, but most importantly will also play positively and constructively into the creation of a culture where everyone can give their best – and that’s where the true value of ED&I lies. ED&I isn’t an ‘us and them’ game. Each and every employee benefits from an inclusive workplace, and that flows through into tangible benefits for the business as well.