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Celebrating the different Cultures in Your Workplace

On Friday 21st May, we celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The UN created this day as a result of the destruction in 2001 of the Buddha statues of Bamiyan (Afghanistan) by the Taliban. Unfortunately, it will come as no surprise that three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension, and that’s why the UN is set on bridging the gap between cultures.

You may wonder, ‘but what has this to do with Employment Law or my workplace?’. Well, embracing all cultures and differences will not only facilitate world peace, but it will also, on a much smaller scale of course, unlock the full power of diversity in your workplace.

For many businesses, diversity resembles a box-ticking exercise. It’s no longer a secret that a strong workplace is a diverse one because it offers a unique range of skill sets, experiences, and backgrounds to pull from. Additionally, most boards have read studies such as the one published by Deloitte in 2017 stating that 23% of respondents indicated they left their organisations for more inclusive ones. Many companies are building diverse teams to include gender and racial differences but in this day and age, that might simply not be enough. After a few years of making efforts to change their recruitment process and broaden their pools of candidates, many seem to still be wondering, ‘is this really working?’. The answer is rather simple: probably not.

Why? Because if you don’t want homogenous teams producing homogenous outcomes, it won’t be enough to make sure that your teams are diverse. You must make sure they are given the support and the space to be different, to have a voice and to think outside of the box. That’s how you’ll achieve real diversity and receive the full benefits of having a diverse workforce. Diversity is meaningless without inclusion. When employees don’t feel integrated, when their differences aren’t celebrated, it will take a toll on motivation, engagement, and (ultimately) employee retention and turnover rates.

How can you make sure to embrace and celebrate all of your people’s culture?

  • Support the creation of communities within your organisation;
  • Make sure that employees from diverse groups can act as mentors to new recruits;
  • Prevent unilateral decision-making by putting in place more diverse panels;
  • Prioritise having policies in place to demonstrate what’s acceptable and what isn’t and introduce “diversity policies” such as policies honouring a variety of cultural and religious practices;
  • Encourage referrals from current employees of any background
  • Draft an annual Inclusion Calendar that represents your entire workforce;
  • Prepare anonymous surveys and (really) listen to people’s feedbacks;
  • Set inclusion targets that aren’t solely based on recruitment but also on how many people from minorities your business is actually retaining; and lastly
  • Conduct exit interviews – make sure to ask whether they felt included and what you could have done differently.

Creating an inclusive workplace does not happen overnight, it requires a lot of preparation and communication with everyone involved . For employers wishing to know more about what they can do to achieve their diversity & inclusion goals, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at legal@lexleyton.co.uk .

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