First steps in diversity and inclusion work
The promotion of inclusion requires genuine will and commitment.
Table of contents
One way to start the development of inclusion is through discussion:
- What does diversity and inclusion mean in your workplace?
- Why do we want to develop them?
- How much importance is put on their development?
The primary motivation may be a labour shortage that causes the organization to develop the way it attracts the widest possible range of candidates for vacant positions, and allows recruitment directly from abroad. In this case, it is also important to ensure that different employees feel the organization is a meaningful workplace to which they can commit.
The root motivation can also be considering diversity and inclusion as business advantages and as a strength that the organization wishes to pursue.
Diversity and inclusion can also be seen as a moral obligation, as well as a question of fairness and sustainability. Valuing diversity and being inclusive can also be one of the organization’s values.
As the organization starts to develop diversity and inclusion, the motivation to develop them can also change over time.
In terms of inclusion, it is important to understand the disadvantages of prejudice, stereotypes, unconscious biases and discrimination and the benefits of non-discrimination. Training and workshops related to the subject can provide ample support for discussions at the workplace regarding diversity and inclusion. However, to succeed in developing inclusion, it is essential that management is committed to its development.
Achieving an inclusive work environment requires long-term and self-reflective activities, in which the equality of the organization, fairness, psychological safety and the inclusion of everyone is developed in a goal-oriented and continuous manner.
Larger organizations, considered pioneers in diversity management, have appointed at least one full-time expert to work on diversity and inclusion. It is important that sufficient human resources and working time is allocated to diversity and inclusion work. This is a prerequisite for the work to be effective.
Assessing the current state of diversity and inclusion
It is good to establish a baseline of the current state of diversity and inclusivity. The assessment obtained by measuring helps in identifying development areas and setting goals. Measurement is also needed in order to monitor the development of diversity and inclusion. The assessment can be carried out as part of the statutory assessment of equality and non-discrimination.
The diversity of personnel can be surveyed in terms of gender, age, educational background and other factors about which the organization generally has knowledge. Collecting information on diversity factors for which information is not available (e.g. language background and belonging to a gender minority) can be carried out by means of anonymous surveys, for example. In addition to mapping diversity in general, measuring it in different units, positions and tasks will provide an overview of the organization's inclusion and related development needs.
Personnel experiences regarding inclusion can be studied using surveys and interviews. Surveying the experience of inclusivity should be carried out in a way that allows analyzing and comparing the experiences of various different groups of respondents. This is important, as the experience of those belonging to minorities may differ significantly from the personnel average. In inclusion work in general it is advisable to pay particular attention to groups that are either under-represented in the organization or are in a weaker position in society.
Belonging to two or more minority groups significantly increases the risk of discrimination and exclusion. That is why the intersectionality of various identities should also be taken into account. For example, the situation and experiences of women with an immigrant background can differ significantly from those of other women or men with an immigrant background.
Diversity and inclusion can also be assessed in other ways, such as examining pay differentials between various people in the same position, the diversity of leadership and management, and monitoring personnel turnover in the organization.
The results of surveys should be communicated openly to all employees and key stakeholders. Some pioneering organizations in diversity and inclusion work, for example, publish their diversity data and its development on their public websites. This communicates the organization's investment in promoting diversity and inclusion to clients and financiers, as well as to potential job seekers in a transparent manner.
Setting and monitoring goals
Diversity and inclusion work requires a strategic approach:
- Setting goals
- Planning and carrying out the necessary development activities
- Assessing the achievement of objectives
Setting goals is guided by surveying the current situation. The goals should be made as practical as possible.
Examples of objectives:
- “In the year x, x% of people in supervisory positions will belong to minority x.”
- “The organization has become more inclusive in a way that increases the experience of the inclusion by different groups.”
The development measures must be as practical as possible and tied to a specific schedule. It is essential that sufficient human resources are allocated to the development measures. When setting goals, it is also worth deciding when achieving them will be followed up and evaluated. It should also be decided who is responsible for monitoring and evaluation.