In a rapidly evolving world, diversity and inclusion have become crucial components of a thriving and forward-thinking workplace. The discussion brought together influential speakers who emphasised the significance of creating truly inclusive workforces and categorised five key areas of opportunity.
The power of data
The importance of data in addressing the long-neglected area of disability is something that cannot be ignored. Panellists stressed that disability should not be seen as an inconvenience, but rather as a source of diversity and talent. However, without measurable data, progress in inclusion efforts remains aspirational and all promises nigh on meaningless. Data is the foundation and the bedrock of progress.
There is a need to influence employers, particularly senior leaders who can set a culture, and those in recruitment teams. We need to look at what we are doing to inspire potential people to come into our business, how we hire them, and how we grow them once they are through the door. Innovation comes from diversity, and that is something we need to sell when talking about recruiting. Panellists stressed that cross-sector collaboration is essential in driving this change, as businesses should lead the charge rather than waiting for government intervention.
Shockingly, there is currently an untapped talent pool of 800,000 young people not in work alongside one million vacancies. While improving inclusivity in recruitment is essential, businesses must also focus on the progression of underrepresented individuals throughout their careers. Panellists recommended three key areas for change: understanding the pipeline of individuals, providing support for those facing barriers, and reporting on progress. Transparency and accountability, along with efforts to advertise senior opportunities, are vital in promoting diversity and inclusion.
Cultivating inclusive workplace culture
Again, the importance of data was raised but this time, it was discussed as a way to make people think differently about disability. For example, 20% of people of working age have a disability, which is 1 in 5 people within a business. Furthermore, 80% of those disabilities are acquired during working years. When you start to communicate this, you can drive colleagues, senior leaders and businesses to think differently about diversity and inclusion.
The role of senior leadership
The role of senior leaders is more crucial than ever before. Not only are they responsible for setting the tone, but they are the architects of policies that promote equality, diversity and inclusion. In a world marked by its diversity, it is vital leaders recognise the impact they have on shaping culture and commit to authentic, vocal and visible advocacy both within and beyond the workplace. They need to acknowledge that it is not a buzzword or tick-box exercise but a fundamental asset that leads to better decision-making and improved financial performance.
The discussion shed light on the pressing need for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. From the power of data to transform recruitment and the importance of addressing progression to cultivating an inclusive workplace culture and the pivotal role of senior leadership, the key takeaways reinforce that diversity and inclusion are not just token representation. By taking action and driving change, businesses can not only create more inclusive workplaces but also reap the benefits of improved decision-making, financial performance, and lasting success in an ever-changing world.