It takes a combination of activities to make a workplace more inclusive, not just one. In the Partnership we have created a framework for driving a more inclusive workplace which highlights the type of activities that make the biggest difference.
In the Partnership, our framework is in four stages. We’ve started by creating the drive amongst our Partners for creating a more inclusive workplace. We then provide the business with the knowledge about the practices that will make us more inclusive and insight into what our data suggests. We then formulate a strategy, setting effective objectives throughout the organisation. Finally, we have to take action that will make the required difference and stick to our intentions.
When it comes to creating the drive there are three key activities to undertake. First, communicate the business case for diversity and continually talk about it. Secondly, to identify diverse role models from around our business. But thirdly, and probably most importantly, our leaders to make a personal commitment towards diversity and inclusion.
Many organisations will say that having their CEO or Chairman advocating diversity and inclusion has been pivotal for driving change in the business and I agree. Leaders at every level should take time to explore the commercial opportunities that a diverse workforce and customer base presents.
Leaders should be aware of the positives and challenges facing different groups of employees. If possible, leaders should make themselves available for sponsoring aspiring employees from underrepresented demographics.
Leaders need to build their ability to talk about inclusive workplaces confidently, knowledgeably and passionately. If possible, they should speak about inclusivity outside of their business as this undoubtedly has an impact on attracting people to an organisation. How they do all of this is down to the leader and their individual creativity.
When it comes to our working mothers this visible, proactive leadership is incredibly important. There is a multitude of arrangements and emotions to handle when finding out you’re going to be a mother and then returning to work. Having the knowledge that the leadership in your business will support and reinforce the importance of you being supported through this time is vital.
It requires more than just endorsement — we need leaders to speak up in support of and on the behalf of people from all backgrounds.
By Nicola Paul, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at The John Lewis Partnership.