“We want to deliver Inclusion Training, so that we can ‘Tick the box’ and show compliance.”
But will this add long-term benefits and really change your culture and importantly your people’s behaviours? I believe the answer is a resounding no unless this type of training is directly linked to your company values. I believe the answer is a resounding no unless this type of training is directly linked to your company values.
More and more, working with our clients we have linked all of the training we do to the values already in place – this helps reinforce them, and ensures the Inclusion & Diversity sessions we deliver are much more than tick-box and more about changing behaviours for the long-term. After all, as trainers we are not the ‘thought Police’ and in a few hours cannot change how people think but we can influence how they behave if they understand the impact their behaviour and comments are having on others. I don’t believe anyone gets up in the morning determined to offend as many of their colleagues as possible, though when I made this point recently one learner smiled and disagreed!
Good diversity management is also good business.
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Many organisations have an Inclusion, Diversity & Equality policy in place, but how do your team deliver this day in and day out? It is after all down to them to be the ambassadors of your policy in order for it to really change the culture and attitudes towards others.
Most companies and organisations believe that a policy alone is sufficient to cover them but actually evidencing that your teams understand their personal role in delivering this might be required and could lead to significant bad publicity and financial costs if anyone gets it wrong.
How does £125,000 sound for getting it wrong?
Regularly we read in the press and hear on the news about major companies and small business getting things wrong through ignorance, bad planning, poor training or lack of policy and/or understanding.
In 2010 the UK Government introduced The Equality Act 2010. This act “legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society”
It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.
The training of staff is an important signal that an employer is committed to embedding equality and diversity. And this is key - embedding it – that’s why it ALWAYS needs to be linked to values – usually companies have trust or respect or open or honest – this is what respecting diversity in the workplace is about.
The benefits of a robust Inclusion & Diversity program for the organisation include:
- Promotion of organisational reputation
- Supporting recruitment and retention
- Increasing productivity
- Mitigation of risk
It is important to provide employees with an understanding of what inclusion means, and how the Equality Act 2010 impacts them. Linking this to the organisation’s values are absolutely key. Values need to underpin an organisation and we will only tackle inequality and examples of discrimination if all staff feel confident in how they challenge and work in an environment where they can and that it is listened to and acted upon.
I recently came across another training companies website that put their own values at the heart of everything they do, to the point they stated if you didn’t truly believe in their values, they wouldn’t work with you!
Time after time, I have worked with organisations where during the break or after the course, there is an endless queue of people all wanting to offload confidentially some of the issues they have experienced and don’t feel able to challenge. We can’t simply say ‘be brave and report it’ if the culture doesn’t encourage or enable this. I recently had to tell a Senior Manager who attended a final session of the programme when he was dismissive of the law and didn’t believe in “any of it” that during the previous 9 sessions staff on everyone had given feedback how his behaviour made them feel. I had to be brave, but I felt obliged to act on behalf of the voices. He listened and there and then I saw someone who suddenly realised the impact of his behaviour on others. He didn’t wake up each morning determined to offend as many of his staff as possible, yet this was the outcome. He came up at the end, like so many of his staff had done over the previous months and said it was a moment in his life where he finally realised, he needed to change his behaviour.
If we achieve this small thing, the recognition of our own behaviour and the impact on others, we can make big steps forward.
I passionately believe that in giving your team a full understanding of the Equality Act you will: –
- Help them understand their specific role in creating and delivering a positive culture where diversity is respected,
- Create confidence to challenge unacceptable behaviour (no matter who this is coming from)
- Greatly reduce the risk to your business – financially, publicity wise, tribunal
- Embed your values into your business
- Protect your business from claims