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Business management

LGBT+ History Month: seven ways your business can build inclusion plans

The business case for embracing difference is clear. 

Creating a workplace where everyone feels included and valued, regardless of their background or characteristics, can help your business gain a competitive edge, increase profitability, advance innovation, and give you greater diversity of thought. It also takes good leadership.

Here’s our round-up from specialists and business owners on how to implement a D&I strategy that works.

1. Make your D&I plan relevant to your business mission

If you want to be inclusive and successful in managing a diverse team, take it seriously. Establish clear and inclusive policies and practices in your strategy from the start. These will help employees to progress and participate in any decisions or changes that affect them.

A diverse company is one that propels individuals forward, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation – actively providing them with opportunities to excel

Suki Sandhu OBE
Founder and CEO, Audeliss and INvolve
2. Establish a sense of belonging for everyone

Ensure all employees have a voice. Create a culture of safety where employees are comfortable to share their views and put mechanisms in place to encourage this. 

You don’t have to know what you want; you have to know what you don’t want. If you don’t want to be an institution that’s oppressive, that’s a great starting point and an open door to become the person, company or team you wish to be

Namywa, founder
Girl Grind UK
3. Share best practices and be open to trying new things

It’s not one-size-fits-all, so consider some equality, diversity and inclusion training. An adherence to fair and open promotion practices will make an immediate difference. 

If you want to grow, diversity isn’t a ‘nice to have’; it’s got to be a critical aspect of your strategy because it brings wider knowledge, a wider thought process, wider talent, and wider network potential to open up a wider customer base

Kalpna Woolf, founder and CEO
BeOnBoard
4. Be able to talk about D&I with confidence and competence

Businesses can lose contracts because they are not credibly the best when they have little diversity at the top levels, including socio-economic diversity. 

A CEO told me recently, ‘I expect people to be able to talk about what they have done to promote diversity and inclusion, and if they can’t, it would feel like employing someone who has never considered budgets or used a computer

Jane Farrell
Co-founder, Equality Works
5. Build a multi-generational workforce

A combination of older and younger workers can boost productivity because each generation brings different skills and talents to the table. As part of your D&I strategy, talk about age, make rules for conduct and communication, make time for knowledge sharing, and mix up your teams.

6. Recruit with diversity as an intent

Companies will be going through a recruitment process to diversify skills and diversify the make-up of their boards. The inclusion part means making people feel comfortable.

Inclusion should be part of the recruitment process, but it should be ongoing, it requires proper onboarding, so members feel welcome, ensuring everyone in the room has a voice

Elizabeth Oni-Iyiola
Development director, Inclusive Boards
7. Identify unconscious bias

Recognising bias towards or against certain traits is a first step to avoiding knee-jerk reactions in your recruitment decisions – and it allows you to put checks and balances in place to stop those behaviours happening. Look at your ‘in group’ – the set of people who you consider to be your closest confidents and allies – and if it’s very samey, that’s a potential risk.

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