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Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in your workplace

It is often said that a diverse workforce is good for business but why exactly is that the case? Yes, it’s true that those companies who must meet their Employment Equity and B-BBEE targets will benefit from having a diverse workforce innately simply because of the current legislative landscape. However, equality, diversity and inclusion is more than about meeting goals and targets. Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives can lead to an increase in creativity, innovation and productivity. Organisations must consider their legal and ethical responsibility to safeguard their health and well-being of their employees by ensuring they are protected from discrimination and harassment. An organisation which prioritises equality, diversity and inclusion, prioritises each member of their organisation for the value which they bring to the whole, thereby ensuring that all individuals are valued, respected and acknowledged despite any differences.

Employees who feel acknowledged, valued and respected in their work environment are more likely to be more productive which is not only good for the organisation, but good for the individual’s self-esteem. An environment which promotes equality amongst its members, is an empowering one. An empowered employee will bring function more efficiently than one who is not feeling empowered and supported. A workplace where employees focus on solutions rather than problems is one which will attract employees who have excellent qualities and experience which they can contribute to the workplace. Equipped with a staff compliment of experienced, qualified and valued will in turn attract clients from a diverse background, greatly improving the overall prospects of the business. 

Any organisation interested in improving productivity, employee satisfaction and increasing their client-base, would benefit by first establishing a clear and concise policy that outlining their approach to EDI. This policy could include aspects such as objectives, specific goals and strategies that may be used to improve EDI in the workplace. Such a policy can be established in consultation with a diverse and representative portion of the employees within the organisation who will bring their own unique and specific perspectives to the conversation. Contributions of the workforce will help to highlight any aspects of the workplace which may need special attention and which may have escaped the attention of leaders within the organisation.

An excellent way to encourage employee input is to educate and raise awareness regarding the topic of EDI. Implementing training programs can help to create a culture of diversity and inclusion from which perspective all player within the organisation develop a better understanding of the reasons for, and importance of EDI. As employees gain new insights and respect for people from backgrounds different from their own, they will also begin to question old perspectives which may well have created an unconscious, unintended bias of individuals and groups. As unconscious bias begins to become conscious, empathy and understanding will lead to a shift in perspectives.

Improving EDI in the workplace is a long-term commitment and requires ongoing effort, a willingness to listen, learn and make changes to ensure that all employees feel valued and included.