Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace: Breaking Down the Barriers to Change

08 May
Inclusion and Diversity_Skills Gap_Alexandros Stratis

Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace: Breaking Down the Barriers to Change

Alexandros Stratis
Research Manager

Read full bio @stratis_a

We live at a time of intense transformational pressure for organisations of all sizes. At IDC, we have been looking at the inclusion and diversity challenges from the point of view of technology and how the 3rd Platform is reshaping the experience of employers, employees, and customers.

At the same time, the focus of transformation is widening and becoming more far reaching. Gone are the days when digital transformation was limited to a single aspect of work, such as customer experience. Now, it encompasses the entire organisation and touches on a business’ culture, vision and goals — even the physical workplace.

Business leaders can be crucial in fostering change

The point of change, however, is not — or at least should not be — just the bottom line of business performance. Notions like inclusion and diversity should not be viewed as PR terms or a utilitarian means to enrich the candidate pool or tie them to the corporate profile and image that a business is building. To do so would be to undermine and neglect businesses’ ability to affect social change. There is a larger imperative at play here and business leaders can be crucial in fostering change.

Organisations need to rethink recruitment and development to provide equal opportunity for all. There is a growing skills gap at the heart of the talent market. In Europe alone, by 2020 the lack of IT skills will affect 9 in 10 businesses and bring $91 billion in lost revenue; failing to be inclusive, open and diverse perpetuates discrimination, exclusion and injustice to the cost of us all.

HR leaders will have to become strategic and forward thinking when assessing their skills needs and how to best prepare their organisations for the challenges ahead. They should rethink which roles are important for the future of their business, plan for the skillsets needed not just today but also tomorrow and look to recruit externally but also retrain internally for those sought-after skills.

HR can help to break down these obstacles to equality by adopting a gender-blind approach to recruitment, with candidates’ names and genders obscured from view in the screening process and focusing only on requisite skills. This can expand on succession planning and skills training within the business. Employees can then be judged on merit and potential alone and be part of an employer brand that focuses on building an equitable, transparent and fair employee ecosystem for everyone to thrive in.

To support this in the medium term, businesses can back internships and trainee schemes in the tertiary or even secondary educational tier, which will expose those skills to all. Including young women and minorities in initiatives that have a strong STEM focus and a business outlook can be crucial in breaking down barriers to participation and overcoming prejudices. Over the long term, sponsoring degrees and educational courses in higher education institutions (HEIs) in poor, rural or underrepresented areas can help to combat exclusion.

Making diversity part of the employer brand and company culture

HR leaders and business executives also need to accept that inclusion is an ongoing process and does not stop at quotas or simple training. Making diversity part of the employer brand and company culture requires continuous effort and commitment across the leadership.

Rooting out discrimination and prejudice is a wider societal goal and businesses alone cannot be tasked with it. But the workplace is a vibrant and dynamic space, where, given the right circumstances, anyone can make a difference and be a force for change. Understanding the workforce, planning for future skills with an open mind and creating a positive, equitable and transparent work environment can be a powerful way to break down a vicious circle of underrepresentation, prejudice and exclusion.

Find out how diversity and inclusion can address the European Skills gap in this short webcast:

If you want to learn more about skills gap and diversity and inclusion or have any questions, please contact Alexandros Stratis or head over to https://uk.idc.com and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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