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7th Dec, 2022

Ian Nicholas
Ian Nicholas
Job Title
Global Managing Director

You may have heard the quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast” from influential management thinker Peter Drucker. Just so this quote isn’t misconstrued, what he is saying is not that a business’s strategy is unimportant, but that an empowering and open culture is a much more certain route to organisational success.

Why have I highlighted this quote? I was surprised to see some of the results our research with the CIPD as part of ‘Inclusion at Work 2022’ revealed, yet encouraged by certain elements at the same time. As you will see when downloading and reading through the report, we all still have a long way to go to achieve a truly inclusive culture within organisations and society as a whole.

The importance of inclusion and diversity

One of the most alarming results from the research was that just 30% of employers say leaders in their organisation are completely committed to having a diverse workforce. And similarly, just 36% said that senior leaders are completely committed to having an inclusive workplace.

The importance of inclusion and diversity in the workforce can be underestimated, but research into the field continually reveals that a high level of adoption is associated not only with greater productivity and performance, but innovation, talent attraction, employee retention and overall workforce wellbeing.

Communication is key

Leaders are busy people (aren’t we all) and even if inclusion and diversity are a top priority for their organisation, they may not be communicating their commitment to it effectively. This, therefore, results in employees feeling that I&D aren’t at the heart of the business and, as our research highlights, under half of employers agree that senior leaders in their organisation actively promote it.

Effective communication by leaders is vital to ensure all employees feel they are empowered and that they belong – if I&D are important to you, you need to make sure you’re communicating that message to your workforce through everything you do and it’s high on your company’s strategic priorities. Also, your means of communication itself needs to be inclusive.

Widen your talent pool

Our research also highlighted that 21% of employers feel senior leaders just pay lip service to inclusion and diversity in their organisation. This showcases the need for organisations to embed I&D everywhere, in their strategy and communication, and in everything they do, from their employer brand and employee value proposition to recruitment processes. 

On a positive note, it’s encouraging to see nearly three-quarters (72%) of employers have at least one practice in place to make their recruitment approach more diverse and inclusive. Inclusivity, and diversifying your workforce, are the best ways to organically expand your talent pool and retain talented people. Simple things such as changing the language used in your job adverts, reassessing the qualifications needed for a role, and having a diverse interview panel can have a positive impact.

Keep up momentum

Within the report, CIPD Senior Policy Advisor Dr Jill Miller highlights her concerns for the future, and I reiterate those concerns, as our survey which informed the research revealed that fewer organisations say they plan to focus on each personal characteristic, or area of I&D, over the next five years, in comparison to the last five.

As an HR professional myself (formerly chief HR officer for the Reed Group), I am more than aware of the vogues human resources teams go through, concentrating on topics that are considered ‘on-trend’ at the time. At the time of writing this blog, the environment is firmly at the helm alongside the cost-of-living crisis. But while both are very important, it’s vital as far as inclusion and diversity are concerned that we keep up the momentum to ensure we aren’t undoing all of the good work that has been done; rather building on it.

I&D should be the responsibility of everyone in an organisation, not just the HR/people team. So, to complement the work of HR and I&D specialists, and help keep the momentum going, organisations should consider selecting a diversity and inclusion champion, or group of champions, who can keep the topic high on the agenda – we all know that your employees are far more engaged by their peers.

In what is currently a very competitive labour market, showcasing your organisation’s inclusive and diverse culture, and dedication and commitment to the cause is vital. Companies are crying out for talented people to fill their open vacancies and having a culture that is diverse and inclusive will set you in good stead to attract the best professionals above your competitors.

Inclusion at work 2022 | CIPD in partnership with Reed