Your hands are already full to overflowing with the endless pressures, demands and responsibilities of a workplace where everything needed to be done yesterday. So, it’s unsurprising that you quite simply don’t have time to think about D&I (diversity and inclusion) in your business. Or, you might think it’s for bigger companies with massive resources, and that it doesn’t apply to you at the smaller end of the scale.

In truth, there are many and varied narratives around D&I in small businesses all over the country.

Perhaps you’d love to get fully behind D&I, but you’re too time-poor to make any serious headway. Or, do you fall in to the “Why bother?” camp. You might not yet know enough about D&I to understand the benefits to your businesses and to society. So, you choose to sidestep it.

Do any of these scenarios resonate? If so, you’re in the right place. Read on.

Why D&I Matters So Much

Sitting comfortably? Good.

Take a second and visualise the people who hold power and authority in society. Hold that thought.

Now, take a closer look at them.

  • Which groups are overrepresented and which groups are underrepresented?

Move in a little bit closer still.

  • How many women are in that picture?
  • How many black women?
  • How many gay, black women?
  • How many gay, black women with disabilities are there?

Fact check: This distributional skew isn’t because one group of people is more capable or has a higher IQ than other groups. It’s because conventional systems and structures favour some groups of people more than others, and create more barriers for some groups than others.

It’s the byproduct of historical and structural inequalities and racism. They’ve been ingrained in to society for centuries, at an individual, organisational and structural level, interwoven into our –

  • Systems
  • Processes
  • Policies
  • Behaviour
  • Language
  • Culture

You might be surprised to learn that all of these combined influences make you biased at some level, even if you aren’t aware of it. It’s the result of a lifetime of absorbed stereotypes, culture, gender, society, family and life experiences.

The good news about bias- whether you’re aware of having any or not – is that there’s plenty you can do to mitigate it, because the brain is malleable and capable of positive change.

What’s D&I Got to Do with Your Business?

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to identify any bias that exists and to implement interventions to mitigate it. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that you’re providing equal access to opportunities to everybody. There aren’t any brownie points to be scored for doing it. It’s simply the right thing to do in contemporary and progressive society.

It might be challenging to think about bias in this way. But if it makes you feel uncomfortable or threatens you, it’s probably because you’re used to privilege. That’s why providing equity for others can subconsciously feel like something’s being taken away from you.  

So, how can you shift your mindset?

In truth, levelling the playing field and promoting equity takes a lot more than education. It takes positive and accelerated action. This is 2022, after all! The days are long gone of waiting for those at the top of the tree to wake up and smell the coffee, with a drip feed of improvement from one generation to the next.  

Does this ruffle your feathers or make you feel defensive? If so, that’s not a bad sign. In fact, it’s a plum opportunity to reframe your attitude and consider why you feel like this.

But D&I is so much more than the morally right thing to do. In addition, can supercharge your competitive edge, because diversity of thought and input empowers businesses to –

  • Innovate
  • Be more competitive
  • Boost profitability
  • Enhance employee satisfaction
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve staff retention

There are whole rafts of research that demonstrate how well-managed diverse teams outperform well-managed homogeneous teams. Do a quick Google search on McKinsey, Deloitte or Hall & Partners, and get stuck in!

Or, if you don’t need any further convincing, then stay tuned for my Top 10 D&I hacks coming soon in the next article.

For more information and tips to help you get started with D&I, please contact Shelley Green at EDI Connect.

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