Suki Sandhu OBE
Founder & CEO, INvolve | @MrSukiSandhu | @INvolvePeople
Businesses have a duty to create inclusive spaces for their employees and now, more than ever, they’re upping their game.
At INvolve we’ve worked with over 100 major businesses from across a range of industries, supporting them on their inclusion journeys. Working across ethnic minority, LGBT+ and gender inclusion, we know that people don’t just fit one box, and that the drive for inclusion needs everybody to be on board.
Businesses have a duty to create inclusive spaces, ensure that all their employees advocate for equality in society and are vocal and proactive on issues that are central to the communities they serve. More than ever, businesses are working harder to create these environments, but there is always more work to be done.
So, what can businesses do to ensure inclusivity?
When staff feel supported, they are naturally more productive. It’s easy to hire diverse staff – but if they don’t feel included, don’t expect them to perform or even stick around. Affinity networks and employee groups show that your business means business when it comes to supporting minorities.
If there isn’t an affinity network in place, look into setting one up! Encourage your HR & Leadership team to implement formal processes and develop resources for staff to help them understand the importance of difference. It’s also important to profile role models; having senior leaders who are vocal in their support of (or experience of) being in a minority group speaks volumes within an organisation.
All together now!
Minorities have a shared understanding of what it’s like to feel left out or be treated unfairly. That’s why we encourage businesses to bring together their affinity groups to learn from and support one another. LGBT+, race, gender, religious networks are all fantastic! But it’s important to not let them sit in silos.
People have complex identities, which mean they might tick multiple boxes. By focusing on diverse characteristics in isolation, you’ll be missing crucial learnings and excluding people who don’t fit in just one box. Of course, they’re important as standalone groups, but cross-over events, shared learnings and support really accelerate the wider inclusion conversation.
Don’t forget to engage allies and advocates – as the majority, they have the privilege and position of power to be able to support and amplify minority voices.
Build a robust trans inclusion strategy
We’re at a difficult point in time. The trans community is under attack from the media and suffering a breakdown of legal protections, in and out of the workplace, and we must step up to support these individuals.
In business, awareness and education is essential for tackling stigma while encouraging safe, supportive environments for trans colleagues. Having a robust trans inclusion strategy, proactively raising awareness and developing comprehensive benefits is essential, regardless of whether an organisation knows it has trans employees. Some organisations have taken a step further by taking a public stand against transphobia.
We’re not done yet
Most importantly, we have to keep pushing forward. LGB people – defend and support your trans colleagues. Straight people – stand proud for your LGBT+ colleagues. White people – demand equality for those from ethnic minorities. Men – vocally support equality for women. We all have a part to play in the journey towards inclusion.