How to live out your diversity and inclusion policy
How's your diversity and inclusion policy? Great? Good. Now how’s your diversity and inclusion?
You see, it’s not enough just to have a diversity & inclusion policy – you need to be living it out, every day. Just like core values, your DE&I policy is only worth something if it’s put into practice.
So how do you create a workplace that does what it says?
I’ve been thinking about some of the myths surrounding diversity and inclusion and looking at how we can get rid of the misconceptions that hold us back from practising what we preach.
…Myth 1: It’s not a one-off
If you’re treating DE&I in the same way you treat your campaigns, stop. This isn’t a launch or sprint – it’s a culture that has to be lived out every day. You will never have ‘achieved’ this particular goal, so accept that this is one area of the business that needs constant work.
…Myth 2: You don’t have to be in a position of power
DE&I is everyone’s responsibility, not just senior management, so hold everyone equally responsible. Whether that means rethinking a social event that’s always down the pub, asking someone about their experiences or checking your vocabulary, we can all make incremental changes that make inclusion a part of the culture.
…Myth 3: It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture
Although you might have written rules for DE&I, the reality is that you don’t need wholesale policy change to make a difference. Just as compound interest makes regular saving worth more than the sum of its parts, small acts of inclusion accumulate to add up to a culture that’s embedded in your company.
…Myth 4: Gender parity is improving
You might think that gender equality is on the up as we can see more women in the boardroom. But research has shown that women still report modifying their behaviour in order to be accepted. They described having to find a line between displaying warmth and competence, being less challenged by feedback and being less able to speak up about their ideas.
We might have gender parity in the room, but there’s still a long way to go before women are as visible as men in decisions, influence and ideas.
…Myth 5: You can’t teach empathy
Wrong! Empathy is a skill, not a personality trait. We can all develop more empathy simply by putting ourselves in situations where we forgo our privilege. The less power we have, the more we understand how others feel in a position of minority,
And of course, we can also always learn from others by understanding their experiences of discrimination and lack of inclusivity. It’s about challenging yourself – and caring enough to ask.
When you look again at some of the misconceptions, implementing a successful DE&I policy feels more manageable. The key is to hold people accountable, take small, consistent steps, and embed your policy as part of your company culture.