How to update your diversity and inclusion policies as we return to the workplace

The working world has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. The global pandemic has been a reset for businesses. Many have had to be agile and adaptive to enable them to move forward and work in new and innovative ways.

As we take the steps towards re-opening the economy and our workplaces, it is crucial for business leaders and decision-makers be critical in ensuring re-entry plans are equitable and inclusive for all team members and use this opportunity to make changes for the future.

Whether it is contemplating business decisions that may impact our employees and customers or re-evaluating and reframing existing processes and systems in the context of a new, more flexible work environment, diversity, equity and inclusion will play a key role in moving forward. The decisions we make will have implications on a business’s diversity and inclusion strategy moving forward.

Business considerations

There are several key points that business leaders will need to address as we return to work post Covid-19. These will have diversity, equality and inclusion implications related to safety, bias and ensuring the needs of the employee are met in a sensitive way. Organisations will need to weigh decisions to reopen through the lens of equity, diversity to deliver the most suitable response. Some of the key considerations include:

  • How do you ensure equality in who is being brought back into the workforce?
  • What are the concerns and needs of your employees?
  • What safety measures need to be considered under the lens of diversity and inclusion?
  • Do you need to consider retraining your workforce as they return to a different style of working and a new workplace?
  • Will there be long-term implications on your diverse talent as a result of the new way of working?

Underrepresented employee groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Women, people with disabilities, older generations and people of colour have encountered higher rates of unemployment and salary cuts as well as higher rates of health risk during the pandemic. All these groups must be considered as businesses prepare to return.

Future re-evaluations in a post-Covid workforce

As well as returning your existing workforce in a diverse and inclusive manner, now is a key moment for diversity and only if you give that equal consideration will your business succeed in creating a happy and productive workplace.

When it comes to establishing and following through on a commitment to diversity and inclusion, it is important that business leaders pledge to change and implement it. Here are the ways you can improve inclusion and diversity in your workplace.

  • Introduce an inclusive workplace model
  • Review your executive team and make changes
  • Celebrate, honour and respect multiple religious and cultural practices
  • Develop and foster a company culture where every voice is welcome, heard, and respected
  • Embrace a multilingual workforce
  • Review your current team make-up and see how diverse it is and set goals for improvements
  • Understand and improve gender pay inequality in your business
  • Foster a diverse thinking environment
  • Build a multigenerational workforce
  • Reflect everyone’s needs and preferences at social gatherings and work events
  • Introduce, review, and improve anti-discriminatory policies
  • Make workspaces inclusive and accessible for all
  • Personalise one-to-ones and discussion points for individual people and their needs
  • Recruit internally for a D&I role that will focus on improving it within the business
  • Review and adapt your recruitment process to make it more open and accessible
  • Consider partnering with an independent HR or D&I expert if additional support is needed

Improved diversity and inclusion in your business will lead to better engagement and employee retention, especially during such a time of change.

Although many business leaders will want to ‘get back to normal’, now is the opportunity to do this but with diversity and inclusion at the forefront. Thinking inclusively during this time will improve the lives of so many, but also contribute to better business and better social outcomes for all of us.

If you require any additional information on how your business and become more diverse and inclusive, consult an independent HR expert.