Barriers to diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is essential for those organisations that wish to provide and maintain a workplace that is both productive and attractive. Not only does D&I help to attract the best talent but it will improve business performance, enabling the company to outperform competitors that attribute less importance to these two interconnected concepts. Companies that wish to promote such traits as imagination, creation and ingenuity can do so by building an inclusive and diverse talent pool.
Barriers to diversity and inclusion
But what about when things go wrong? There are many barriers to diversity and inclusion and unless these are navigated correctly, the organisation is going to suffer, especially when it comes to recruiting and integrating a diverse mix of people who bring can bring value to the operation.
It is only when management commits wholeheartedly to D&I that success can be achieved. This includes being aware of the common roadblocks and knowing what to look out for. This way, problems can more easily be detected and plans put in place to navigate and solve them.
Let’s look at some of the more frequently occurring barriers to inclusion and barriers to diversity that may manifest in the workplace:
Unconscious bias/stereotyping – many people make assumptions based on unconscious bias and stereotyping. The problem increases when individuals are grouped, having come from similar backgrounds or having had common experiences. The result is a group of biased staff who are going to make it increasingly difficult for the organisation to attract diverse talent. Staff who are recruited without a similar background can be made to feel uncomfortable and will be less likely to stay.
Gaps in leadership skills – if leaders are not sufficiently equipped to work with a diverse team, the weaknesses of the organisation are magnified. All the hard work and effort that has gone into building a diverse team can be wasted. Leaders need to be armed with the necessary skills to manage a diverse team whilst overcoming differences. If necessary, this can be improved by the use of specialist training programmes.
Tick-box mentality – if staff are used to following instructions that never differ and encouraged to not use their natural abilities or innate knowledge, the result is a tick-box mentality. This is absolute taboo when it comes to promoting a corporate culture based on D&I. Management needs to remove policies based upon hitting quotas by merely ticking a box. This might look good on paper but rarely works in practice.
Lack of prioritisation – if D&I comes bottom of the pile when it comes to tackling business issues, the company is never going to prosper in the way it intends. Only keeping an eye on financial targets and paying little interest to diversity and inclusion results in a company that looks good from an accounting point of view but one that will soon begin to flounder as the importance of D&I becomes diluted.
Selection according to merit – organisations may pay particular attention to general employee selection based upon merit but take their eye off the goal when appointing and assessing senior-level staff. Instead of management being placed according to their accomplishments, other subjective criteria need to be applied that have their roots in D&I.
These are just a few of the barriers that may manifest when trying to create an organisation rich in diversity and inclusion. Whilst they may appear fairly basic, they are powerful enough to destroy an organisation’s D&I goals.
Overcoming barriers to diversity and inclusion
The best way to overcome these barriers is for organisations to be proactive by taking the following diversity and inclusion best practices:
Leaders must walk the talk – paying lip service to D&I is never enough and will not work. Management needs to lead from the top and show that they are devoted to following the path of D&I. When staff see that management is passionate and committed they are far more likely to become motivated and less sceptical.
Make D&I mainstream – those that come from underrepresented groups will feel less uncomfortable if conversations around diversity and inclusion are mainstream rather than furtive discussions taking place off to the side. These members of staff should never be made to feel marginalised.
Be focused and goal-oriented – never sideline the organisation’s D&I goals or leave things to chance. Leaders need to take charge and make it clear that the company is not interested in anything that might threaten its agenda.
Appoint the right leaders – the best leaders to promote D&I are those who are personally invested and who can empower staff. At times, they will need to be brave, standing up for what is right and leading the way when it comes to transforming a homogenous culture into one that is diverse. One way of delaying progress is to put the wrong type of leader in charge.
Replace hierarchy with meritocracy – the team should be made up of a diverse talent pool with people placed according to merit. Encourage staff from different backgrounds to push themselves forward, giving due importance to their opinions and ideas.
Introduce a measurement system – measuring the progress of D&I is essential to achieving success. It’s pointless listening to management who may paint a rosy picture, only to find that delivery of D&I is not going as it should. A system should be used to monitor progress and instil proactive activities.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace are best achieved when companies are truly committed to valuing the impact that everyone can bring to the organisation. It is impossible to have an inclusive culture unless the contributions everyone is making are genuinely valued and respected.
The GC Index is a universal language that will empower more than 10% of humankind to positively impact their world. By leveraging The GC Index language and data, organisations are able to provide everyone a level playing field to be at their potent best and in turn drive a truly inclusive organisational culture.
When businesses go all out to form an inclusive culture underpinned by The GC Index it helps empower the diversity of others, a foundation develops that future-proofs and transforms. By overcoming the traditional barriers to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, a road to success will be created, measurable in terms of customer satisfaction and overall performance.