Diversity, equality & inclusion in the workplace

On its launch in June 2022, one of Virtua’s priorities was to promote diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace. Since the company’s inception, Director, James, has kept DE&I at the forefront, not only while advancing his own business, but in helping clients to grow as well.

James explains, “Diversity and inclusion at work is a hot topic right now, but that’s not why it’s important at Virtua. If an organisation is simply trying to ‘do the right thing’ by ticking a DE&I box, they’re completely missing the point.”

Realising the importance of a diverse workforce, James is an advocate of encouraging equal opportunities at work. He continues, “It’s not only beneficial to have a diverse team of people all strengthening a business with a range of experiences, approaches and mindsets, it’s about creating a company culture where people feel they belong, are valued and that their differences are not just accepted but actually celebrated.”

And the benefits don’t end there. Further advantages for companies with a diverse culture include:

Boosted creativity and innovation – employing people from different backgrounds and with distinct experiences, strengths and personalities produces a wider variety of ideas, visions, and resourcefulness.

Better decision making and problem solving – for similar reasons as the above, a diverse group of people is more likely to consider multiple perspectives to come up with more inventive strategies and original solutions.

Increased retention rates – diverse workplaces tend to have more content, engaged workers. An inclusive culture reassures employees that they’re valued, respected, and heard, meaning people are more likely to stay with a company for longer. Having a diverse leadership team further helps in making individuals feel better represented and inspired.

Increased productivity – following on from the last point, happier workforces work harder. Combine this with faster problem solving and increased levels of creativity and you’ll have a highly motivated workforce enhancing your productivity as well as your profit line.

Improved company reputation – happy workers? A diverse and inclusive culture? And known as an equal opportunities employer? Not to mention outstanding services because of an engaged team. Your reputation will skyrocket when you have a successful DE&I policy and procedures in place.

But despite these benefits, and some companies doing sterling jobs in leading the way in diversity and inclusion, there’s still a long way to go for many. While we’ve witnessed an overall increase in the number of organisations now focussing on DE&I initiatives, and 75% of companies cite the topic as important to them, a much smaller percentage have formal policies in place. Plus, countless others admit they lack adequate resources for strategies to be managed and executed successfully.

So, why are so many businesses still lacking when it comes to DE&I? If you feel you’re not quite
there with your diversity efforts just yet, here are our tips for creating a winning strategy.

1. Start from the top down – for a company to be truly diverse and inclusive the policies and strategy must come from the top. Not only should all leaders fully understand what it means to be diverse, but they should be inclusive in all their activities. Diversity training may be necessary. Having a diverse management team that includes members of minority groups can help in making your DE&I policy authentic and credible.

2. Consider diversity in every form – Diversity has evolved. And while it encompasses being inclusive of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual choices and religious beliefs, companies are now recognising further minorities as being able to add value in the workplace. For instance, neurodiverse individuals diagnosed with conditions such as autism are a group now being recognised as often having experienced discrimination at work, but who can offer exceptional qualities.

3. Communication is key – it’s one thing to be diverse, but does that really matter if no-one knows you are? Part of a successful DE&I programme must be effective internal and external communication so that your approach to diversity is recognised and understood. A great starting place, if you don’t already have one is to document your DE&I intentions and expectations in a dedicated policy. Informing people that you’re “an equal opportunities
employer” with a statement on emails, your website and job ads is another quick and simple measure.

4. Remove bias in the hiring process – blind hiring is becoming more commonplace in organisations adopting inclusivity. It involves removing any indications of a candidates’ differences (e.g., name, date of birth, location) from CVs, leaving reviewers to see only information relevant to skills and experience. Companies also need to be aware of writing job adverts and descriptions without bias. Certain language can be deemed discriminatory but there are plenty of tools that can help in writing inclusively, such as Gender Decoder and Textio. Depending on your business and location, you may also consider producing multilingual communications. Or replacing pronouns like ‘she/he/his/her’ with ‘they’ and ‘their.’

5. Consider your physical workplace – Being diverse and inclusive doesn’t just amount to the way you communicate. Remember, to be truly inclusive you need to make your workspaces accessible for anyone with a disability. If it’s not feasible to make a particular site work for everyone, do you have a suitable remote working policy to allow employees to carry out their role effectively from other locations? This kind of policy also creates inclusivity for other groups, such as working parents, who may be benefit from the flexibility that remote working allows.

6. Get feedback – Want to measure the success of your DE&I efforts? Ask your staff. Send out regular employee satisfaction surveys to gauge how everyone’s feeling. And provide forums for people to voice any concerns. Offering platforms for feedback is central to making people feel included and heard, but if you do still improvements to make, you’ll know to take action.

With stats from Forbes suggesting that diverse companies produce an average of 19% more revenue, and 67% of job seekers considering workplace diversity an important factor when choosing an employer, companies not prioritising DE&I are going to be left behind.

But perhaps more important than the obvious business benefits, surely diversity and inclusion needs to be high on the agenda for businesses wanting to demonstrate open-mindedness in today’s modern and increasingly diverse world.

James concludes, “We’re still a small business, so to claim we’re leading the way in DE&I is probably not entirely accurate right now. However, if someone were to ask us how important diversity is on our growth journey, and in hiring for our clients, then we’d be at the top of the list! We’re completely committed to promoting diversity across all our executive search activity and are here to help our clients create the most inclusive cultures and to grow because of broadly diverse teams.”

Going above and beyond more traditional executive search partners, Virtua’s helping clients in the consumer goods sector to boost their output, efficiencies and retention rates with individuals who bring unique qualities to the table. We’re further assisting companies to employ equal opportunities hiring practices and to promote themselves as fair, inclusive organisations with diversity at their heart.

If you’d like to know more about how we could help you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.