Understanding and Driving Equality in the Workplace
Equality is not Pie. Equal rights for others doesn’t mean fewer rights for you.
Imagine going to a beautiful store but you’re not allowed to enter because you have blue hair. You won’t like it, would you?
Equality is a necessity that every individual must enjoy. Being treated unfavourably every day owing to who they are, where they’re from, or what they look like is unfair and shouldn’t exist at all.
Although the laws are in place against discrimination of any form, however, discrimination is still prevalent to certain extent everywhere.
What exactly is Equality in the workplace?
Equality is fair treatment for people in every facet of life regardless of their gender, race, disability, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or age.
But here’s the catch. Equality doesn’t necessarily translate to equal treatment for all. It is promoting an individual’s right to be different. It can only be done by making adjustments in the system to meet the needs of different people.
The primary branches of equality are Diversity and Inclusion.
“Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers.”
– Josh Bersin
Diversity is understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people including those of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations. It also includes people with differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases.
Inclusion is when every person in the society is valued, heard, supported and respected and people feel a sense of belongingness.
Establishing equality is a top challenge that the entire human society is facing at the moment. Businesses and specifically people management can play a significant role in this regard by making the workplace better for everyone.
78% of employees who responded to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study said they work at organizations that lack diversity in leadership positions.
Equality in the workplace is making sure people are given equal opportunities, equal pay and are well accepted for their differences. It is creating an inclusive and conducive work environment where employees feel secure and happy. Equality ensures removing any chances of discrimination in the workplace.
Equality in the workplace and Business goals
“It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth.”
Let’s evaluate some of the amazing benefits that your business can have by embracing equality in the workplace:
1. Attract and retain competent talent:
When a company fosters equality in the workplace, the biggest advantage is the huge increase in opportunities to find competent candidates for hiring. It brings the best people on board from the talent selection pool.
It also plays a special role in employee retention. Employees love to be part of a culture where they are perceived as equals. They stay longer where they are valued for their individuality and unique contribution.
2. Boosts collaboration:
Modern workplaces are changing rapidly. They are now driven by collaboration and teamwork. When you create a culture where people from all kinds of backgrounds are treated equally, it enhances collaboration.
A variety of skills and experiences among the team also means that employees can learn from each other. It helps in building cohesive teams focused on attaining the common goals and of the company.
3. Helps to reach more customers:
Another big win for companies embracing equality is in emerging as a global brand. A diverse workforce means more representation of your consumer persona within the workforce. When your workforce reflects your customers, it helps in greater capture of the target market.
4. Enhance company brand reputation:
How a company is perceived outside of the organization is a matter of great importance. Candidates rely heavily on reviews on social media sites like Glassdoor before joining a new job to get a gist of the company. Companies are in fierce competition to make it to the “Best Places to Work” lists provided by various magazines and websites.
Having a diverse and inclusive workforce is one of the topmost criteria in determining a company’s culture and building positive brand image.
According to a survey by Glassdoor, 78% of employees expect their employers to be inclusive and treat everyone equally.
5. Increased productivity:
Businesses can’t grow if everyone within them thinks the same, acts the same and has similar interests.
When you bring together people from diverse background to a table, it widens the range of ideas to deal with a situation. You are stimulating creative and thought-proving ideas. Naturally, problem-solving and innovation is enhanced. These factors collectively result in increased productivity and efficient performance.
6. Increased employee engagement:
Employees feel invested in a job where everyone is treated with respect no matter who they are, where they’re from, or what they look like.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of employees felt that the respectful treatment of all employees was a very important factor in their job satisfaction.
Upholding equality in the workforce ensures a more balanced and representative workforce. It builds inclusive company culture and boosts communication and teamwork. Equality in the workforce, therefore, is a huge driver of employee satisfaction, productivity and company growth.
How to Promote Equality in the Workplace?
Start from hiring:
The best way to foster a balanced workforce is good hiring practices. You must take a more holistic approach to recruitment and remove any kind of prejudices that might exist. Make sure you take full advantage of the huge talent pool that exists simply because you embrace diversity and inclusion.
Focus on training and mentorship programs:
Training and mentorship programs need to be re-evaluated in order to accommodate a diverse workforce. You must make sure that people coming from different background don’t feel lost and confused during the process. Maintain a global tone throughout the training curriculum and conduct one-on-one meetings with mentors to guide employees in every step.
Bridge the pay gap:
No discussion on equality can be complete without talking about the prevalent pay gap, especially between men and women. What is sad is we are still far behind in bridging the gap of gender equality. At the current rate, it’ll take 217 years to close the economic gender gap.
Identify and resolve the unconscious bias that exists. A new approach of transparency needs to be introduced which challenges a company to investigate the pay gap.
Communication is the key:
Equality is not just accepting people from different background but also celebrating them.
You cannot become a champion of equality without implementing robust communication practices. Take proactive measures to improve communication within the organization. Create a safe space where employees are unafraid to share their stories and experiences. Encourage brave, authentic conversations and inclusive meetings.
Take time to acknowledge and reward individuals for their unique and interesting traits.
Make work-life balance a top priority:
To truly encourage equality, you must also make certain adjustment for them. When you focus more on the output rather than a fixed style of working, it offers room to grow and thrive for your diverse workforce.
For eg., pregnancy leaves, in house child-care facilities, religion-specific holidays are some of the great ways to show acceptance of all people.
Foster the right culture:
Everything comes down to building an environment that encourages open communication and candour. Acknowledge and respect individual beliefs, practices and backgrounds, and recognise the importance of a diversity of approaches to a problem.
Hold sessions and meetings to convey the company’s stance on equality and encourage fair treatment from the very beginning.
Have a plan in place:
To highlight that equality is at the core of your business plan, it is essential that you have a written plan and policy in place. It will not only make things hassle-free and systematic, but it will also reinforce how serious the organization is in this matter. The said plan should try to cover every aspect of the workplace, from recruitment to onboarding to salaries and benefits and everything in between.
Set consequences for racial discrimination and unacceptable behaviour at work. Convey about the disciplinary procedures that your company will follow in instances of discrimination.