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Women have come a long way in the fight for equality, but there’s still a long way to go. According to the World Economic Forum, it’s estimated that gender parity will not be achieved for almost a century.
The community battling to change this is International Women’s Day (IWD) – an annual holiday held to commemorate the achievements of women and raise awareness of the continued gender equality disparities. This year, IWD is asking everyone to imagine a world that is gender-equal, free from discrimination and where difference is celebrated. To make this happen, we can #BreakTheBias – the theme for 2022.
While bias lives in our communities and schools, one of the most prominent places it can be seen is in the workplace. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead in their roles, in life and in society. But supporting women through pay parity and career advancements is beneficial for themselves, society and future generations.
If you’re here to understand more about bias in your workplace and how to make equality, diversity and inclusion part of its fabric, we’ve listed some companies below that are prime examples of what businesses can do to elevate themselves in this area. Each one has progressive work cultures where diversity and inclusion are valued and we hope by highlighting their various policies and practices you are inspired to create a culture that is bias-free and actively propels women to thrive.
Why is equality in the workplace important?
From microaggressions and toxic work cultures to poor promotional opportunities, there are numerous ways bias takes place at work, and these cases are more acute for women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities. But fewer than half of employees say they've spoken out against biased behaviour at any point in their career.
Creating a diverse workforce is an amazing way to break the bias and research has shown that diverse organisations outperform their less-inclusive competitors in multiple ways. Not only are they leaders in the diversity stakes – a field that is increasingly valued among current and prospective employees – but they are leaders in their sector, proving that capturing diverse talent is better for everybody.
Industry: technology services and consulting
Capgemini has been recognised as the top inclusive UK employer by Inclusive Companies. It has also been a Stonewall Top 100 Employer for three years running and is a Stonewall Diversity Champion – all with good reason.
Firstly, the company actively works to create an inclusive, safe and supportive environment for all of its employees. To support this, they have created a change programme called Active Inclusion, which ensures all employees feel valued, respected and able to be themselves at work. Part of this programme is their OUTfront network, which encourages colleagues to become allies by maintaining a respectful environment for all and educating others on the importance of inclusion and supporting the LGBT+ community in challenging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
Industry: employment service
LinkedIn publicly advocates for an equitable future for all. In the past couple of years, they have launched an Equity Strategy to drive equal access and outcomes for all their products, an inclusive leadership initiative for managers and a commitment to double the number of black and Latino leaders, managers, and senior team members in their US workforce by 2025, which they are on track to achieve.
As a foundation, they built a framework that defines what inclusive leadership looks like, which is rolled out to every manager within the company. Every employee is also encouraged to partake in an inclusion course and they are creating processes that will make inclusive leadership a requirement for all managers.
Each year, LinkedIn celebrates Global Diversity Awareness Month, which not only shines a light on their diverse community of professionals but highlights the areas of focus to continue striving for an equitable workforce.
Their Diversity and Inclusivity team recognises that business leaders and individuals must look inwardly and at the world around them to examine and confront not only personal biases but the systemic bias of which they are a part of in order to build actionable change.
3. Johnson & Johnson
Industry: medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods
Johnson & Johnson has put equality at the core of its main vision to “maximise the global power of diversity and inclusion.” To do this, they have created employee resource groups, mentoring programmes and the ‘Diversity University’ – an educational platform that helps employees understand the benefits of a diverse workplace and how best to champion it.
They have been recognised for their diversity efforts, winning Veterans Magazine “Best of the Best” and being one of only two companies that have been on the Working Mother 100 Best list for the past 28 years.
They are also a member of the Valuable 500 – a global movement uniting 500 leading corporations to put disability inclusion at the forefront of business leadership and unlock the social and economic value of people living with disabilities.
Industry: design, engineering and management consulting
The number one value for Arcardis is ‘people first’, which ensures each of its employees is treated equally, upheld by a zero-tolerance policy for unfair treatment of any kind. They recently achieved a gender-balanced executive leadership team, so have gone one step further to establish a workforce that is 40% female by 2023.
In 2020, they reached a top-tier level in the Global Benchmark Report from Workplace Pride – the international platform for LGBTIQ+ inclusion at work. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the US side of the business has also been labelled one of the ‘‘Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality’ after achieving a perfect score on its Corporate Equality Index in 2021.
Industry: software for marketing, sales and customer service
One of the key ways to create an inclusive culture is to ensure every employee, regardless of background or ability, feels like they belong.
Hubspot does just that through their Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging programme, which is split into active employee resource groups including People of Color at HubSpot, BLACKHub, Families@HubSpot, Women@HubSpot, and the LGBTQ+ Alliance.
In order to be as transparent as possible, track their progress and hold themselves accountable, Hubspot have published their diversity data annually since 2017. This includes employee demographic data by gender, ethnicity, age, and self-reported data on parental status and expanded gender identities.
From gender to culture, DHL champions all kinds of diversity and inclusion in every area of its business. From its award-winning 'Women at DHL Global Forwarding' initiative, which propels women in their careers, to its Global Diversity & Inclusion event, where thousands of global employees celebrate and share their culture, it’s clear the company sees strength in diversity and works to promote an inclusive environment.
What can businesses do to improve diversity and inclusion throughout their organisation?
When thinking about your own organisation’s diversity and inclusion strategy, there are some commonalities in the above companies that will likely give you ideas. Some things you could implement include:
- Take stock: where are you currently at with your diversity and inclusion efforts? Understanding this will not only help you create an effective strategy but will make measuring your efforts later down the line much easier.
- A commitment to change: whether it’s 50% of women in leadership positions by 2025 or increasing the diversity of employees by 25%, making a commitment sets your intentions in motion and gives you a timeline – just be sure not to pluck the elements out of thin air; you should always back your commitments with a clear plan of action.
- Create a dedicated team: you could consider hiring a diversity and inclusion team that is dedicated to enforcing your goals. If this isn’t an option, you could ask your employees and see if anyone would be willing to form a voluntary task force.
- Sign up for initiatives: there are so many amazing schemes and programmes for businesses that will provide you with useful resources, a forum of like-minded companies and a recognised accreditation.
- Measure and learn: making plans is futile without putting the processes in place to track your progress. Work out how you will assess your goals before embarking on them.
- Continue to strive: a diversity and inclusion scheme can often get pushed lost after launch. Be sure to maintain momentum and keep your initiative front of mind.
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This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.
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- 14 June 20237 minute read
We caught up with six LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, LGBTQ+ founders and diversity and inclusion advocates to get their top tips for building an inclusive workplace.