Dare to be different: D&I tactics for the workplace

By James Murnieks, CFO Commercial Finance — Region North Europe (UK, Nordics & Poland) at Siemens Financial Services

Whether diversity and inclusion (D&I) has a positive impact on businesses is no longer up for debate. Studies have shown that management teams with above-average diversity experience a 19% increase in innovation revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts. While recognising this is a great first step, the next phase is implementing it in the workplace — that’s the tricky part.

While there is clearly a competitive advantage to getting diversity right, a more inclusive world of business works in everyone’s interest. That’s why I’m sharing my top tips for making your workplace more welcoming and accommodating for everyone — let’s all help each other out.

1. APPLY TRICKLE-DOWN TRAINING

It’s our responsibility to encourage employees to engage with D&I at work. In my experience, it helps to adopt a top-down approach when it comes to training i.e. start with the leadership team. The aim is to empower leadership to set a good example, with the hopes that this will spread throughout the company. But that doesn’t mean that we stop training at our senior staff — our interns are part of this journey and are enrolled into an Intern Development Programme which gives them access to courses on topics such as unconscious bias and invisible disabilities.

2. MAKE LEARNING FUN AND SOCIAL

At SFS we’re always hosting courses, workshops and events to open the floor for all staff to engage in constructive conversations. Staff are able and encouraged to attend as many of these events as they like.

And these needn’t be formal presentations. You can turn it into a great team-building exercise or a fun event around food. Just a few months ago for instance, many of our UK employees organised a Caribbean Food and Drinks festival to celebrate Black History Month. More recently, I attended a talk from BEAUT — Black Equality Allies United Together — with the winner of Series 7 of Britain’s Next Top Model, Jade Burt. Jade shared her experiences of growing up as a mixed-race person in a predominantly white community and how this impacted her identity and career. Her talk covered issues surrounding the importance of media representation — at work this can be done by including more posters and artwork representing diversity! Inviting guest speakers from different fields as well as different backgrounds is a great way to stimulate discussions, offer new perspectives and promote an inclusive environment.

3. ENCOURAGE SELF DEVELOPMENT AND EXPLORATION

With the support of leadership, employees should be encouraged to embark on a journey of self-learning and un-learning while working at your company. Believe me — employees who share your values will respect your commitment to the mission of enhancing company awareness and reducing prejudice and discrimination within company walls. They may even continue to hold these important conversations with colleagues after work or over drinks.

4. EMBED D&I IN THE TALENT ACQUISITION PROCESS

For our part, we’re making sure that we’re embracing D&I right from the talent acquisition process. We’ve been working to promote equal opportunity and have committed to offering an interview to any candidate who has a disability and meets the minimum criteria for a role. We’ve also introduced a reasonable adjustment form which encourages individuals to speak with their managers about their individual needs. We’re very proud to be a certified disability confident employer, but we’re also always looking for more ways we can improve.

I’d be really interested to hear about what others are prioritising in their mission to infuse D&I into your workplace. Feel free to get in touch with me here — we can all learn from each other!