National Inclusion Week 2023 (25 September – 1 October) presents an opportunity for us as business owners to address the apprehension and fear that hinder diversity and inclusion within organisations.
Despite good intentions, many organisations struggle to integrate diversity and inclusion into their daily work culture. The fear of making mistakes, a culture of fear, and inadequate representation all contribute to slow progress.
One aspect of this struggle is the presence of microaggressions, which may not be easy to pinpoint but can be just as harmful as overt discrimination. Feeling excluded due to age, sex, gender, nationality, ability, or skin color is explicit discrimination, while micro discrimination operates on a more subtle level, involving hidden biases and microaggressions.
This can manifest as being overlooked for opportunities, exclusion from meetings or decisions, and a constant self-doubt of saying or doing the wrong thing.
It’s important to differentiate between half-hearted inclusion and a true sense of belonging. Similar to the difference between being lonely and alone, being included should go beyond simply being present.
Negative stereotypes perpetuate discrimination and prevent individuals from fully participating. For example, assuming that a wheelchair user cannot fulfill a certain role or fearing that someone of a different religion may not fit in can limit opportunities and reinforce biases.
For those who experience exclusion, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy, stress, imposter syndrome, and a sense of unworthiness in the workplace.
As hiring managers, we have a choice: We can passively blame a lack of suitable candidates, or we can take proactive steps to create diverse talent pipelines.
To achieve this, we need to ask introspective questions about why certain candidates aren’t attracted to our organisation and actively seek out individuals at different stages of their careers. Qualities such as emotional intelligence, drive, and adaptability should be prioritised over traditional qualifications and experience.
Collaborating with existing networks and employees to review job roles and requirements can help mitigate biases and promote inclusivity. Setting ambitious targets, collecting data, and monitoring progress are essential steps towards our goals.
Utilising social media and other channels to source talent and communicate our commitment to diversity will attract potential candidates who can envision themselves as integral parts of our organisation.
It is crucial that marginalised individuals feel safe, supported, and advocated for in the workplace. Together, let’s break down barriers and foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.
For further guidance the Breathing Space team have produced an 11 page managers guide to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Unconscious Bias on our free Templates and Guides portal How To HR. https://breathingspacehr.co.uk/how-to-hr/
And please don’t hesitate to call the team for further advice and guidance.