Ensuring your organisation is representative of people with varied experiences, skillsets and cultural influences will not only lead to diversity of thought but substantially enhance commercial performance. In fact, research has found that organisations in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25% more likely to achieve above average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile (Mckinsey: Diversity wins: How Inclusion matters).
In order to build a diverse team, and support people’s personal and professional growth, employers need to provide people with the right tools and resources to help them achieve their goals and work effectively.
It’s even more important to acknowledge and understand that individual needs will be different, based upon ability, personal circumstance and skillset. This is where equity comes in. Equity is adapting environments and allocating resources to individuals based upon their abilities, circumstances and needs to help them achieve and succeed. When this is done in the right way, a culture of equity and inclusion is created, resulting in increased innovation, employee engagement and ultimately accelerated business growth.
The role of leaders in driving change
Driving a culture of inclusion and equity starts with leaders. Embedding behavioural change and values can often be challenging, especially if there is a lack of understanding around the importance and rationale. This is why leaders must educate, motivate and demonstrate the practices and behaviours they want everyone across the organisation to adopt. For employees to believe in and engage with the diversity strategy any leadership team may set, it’s important they themselves reflect diversity and equity. According to Brandon Hall Group, a global research company, “less than one third of organisations…have a diverse talent pipeline or a leadership group that reflects the composition of the workforce” (Brandon Hall Group: How can leaders drive a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion). Only once there is a management team who truly epitomises and believes in the true value of diversity and equity, can a culture of the same be achieved.
Why is equity in the workplace so important?
It encourages achievement
Equity encourages achievement. The opportunities that it provides enables individuals to not only achieve their goals but inspires them to grow and reach new heights. In addition, when efforts are supported and equitably rewarded with fair bonuses, promotions and awards, employees are more likely to remain committed and work hard. According to the theory of equity, as explained by Gartner, “Employee motivation at work is driven largely by their sense of fairness… If employees perceive that their ratio of inputs to outcome is not equitable with that of their peers, they may become demotivated and dissatisfied with their job.” (Gartner: Equity Theory)
It increases employee retention
It’s no surprise that when employees feel supported, rewarded and encouraged to achieve their best, they are more likely to stay working at a company. When employees feel their voice and views are listened to, they develop a greater sense of trust and accountability for an organisation’s success. This employer-to-employee connection creates a deeper sense of belonging. Research shows that “UK employees with a lower sense of belonging are 80 percent more likely to quit their jobs” (HR Review: Majority of the UK workforce lack a sense of belonging at work).
For more information on how to achieve ‘a sense of belonging’ for employees, read our article on how an inclusive culture is essential for attracting diverse talent.
It attracts talent
The most successful high growth companies understand the importance of equity. By having fair and equitable practices, employers will be able to build a brand that is committed to diversity and inclusion and attract a broad range of people to open vacancies. Having a reputation for supporting your employees and driving a culture of meritocracy is the only way organisations can compete in the war for talent. A study conducted by Aptitude Research Partners, a research based advisory and analyst company, found that “organisations that offer equity are 26% more likely to have better quality…hire[s] and 42% [will have] higher ratings on Glassdoor.” (Aptitude Research: New research quality of hire)
So how can you be an equitable employer?
There are small steps you can take throughout the employee lifecycle to ensure you are heading in the right direction.
Education and awareness – Start by educating your leadership team on the difference between equity and equality, then the rest of your employee base. Training around unconscious bias will significantly help people to address their behaviour. Knowledge and understanding is power and educating people will help them understand objectives and feel part of the change. Making this a long term commitment will ensure long term success.
Review your hiring process – Ensure you have diverse hiring practices in place, paying particular attention to the wording and language used in job adverts, as well as, having interview panels with mixed genders, ethnicities and people from different backgrounds.
Identify your employees’ individual needs and lifestyle – This will ensure their personal and professional goals remain achievable and realistic given personal circumstances and abilities.
Create equitable practices – Ensure your promotion processes are fair and provide equal opportunities for all employees to achieve and progress by removing any barriers that may hinder them. This may include assessing a range of policies, including your maternity and paternity policies to ensure adequate support is provided.
Build a retention strategy that encapsulates equity – It’s important not to become complacent, take the time to regularly review your people management strategy with focus groups, surveys, and ways of working practices.
By creating an equitable culture, you’ll give your employees the knowledge and confidence to act impartially and feel empowered to affect positive change.
For more information and guidance on diversity, inclusion and equity take a look at our other advisory articles:
At IDEX Consulting we strongly believe and value equitable practices, here’s what equity means to us, watch our short video.