Women in Financial Services Blog

What is Diversity & Inclusion?

What is Diversity & Inclusion?

Tina.Freed / 09 Dec 2015

Diversity, means recognising, valuing and taking into account people’s different backgrounds, knowledge, skills, needs and experiences. It’s about encouraging and using those differences to create a cohesive community and effective workforce. Simply, this means treating everyone with fairness and respect and recognising the needs of individuals.

This process has been in practice for years, however, instigating significant change has been slow. In large corporations and banks. Specific initiatives that only focus on one area, such as culture, typically achieve isolated results and have an insufficient effect when addressing corporate values and principles as a whole. This has led to an activist approach to diversity and the outcomes have led to the recognition of companies who have really tackled the issues head. These companies are now better positioned to attract top talent, improve their customer base and employee satisfaction.

Inclusion at its simplest is “the state of being included” it is described as the practice of ensuring that people feel they belong, are engaged, and connected. The aim is to embrace all people, irrespective of their background.

The term, Inclusion, is relatively new in the banking industry and is closely associated to diversity concepts. Banks are trying to create an environment in which people feel included so they become confident enough to express their different experiences and opinions. The greater the number of opinions and experiences that can be brought into a discussion, more often than not, delivers a more creative, innovative outcome.

However, to make diversity and inclusion real and relevant, the decision making bodies within an organisation need to drive the concept. Heads of departments need to be held accountable for when talking the talk and consequently walking the walk in a way that is quantifiable. It needs to be made simple otherwise leaders makes excuses and do nothing. If it is to become real and relevant, it is the high ranking businesses and front-runners in a firm that need to own it and run with it.

When employees feel valued and respected, they are much more likely to be engaged and will endeavour to do their best on the company’s behalf. Leaders that inspire, rather than rule, certainly motivate employees more.

Banks, companies and businesses are beginning to realise the advantages of diverse and inclusive concepts as it is now becoming closely linked to the bottom line. A feeling of inclusion aids loyalty, therefore, employees tend to want to stay within such an environment and keep producing good levels of results. However, employees are able to quickly differentiate a culture of inclusion from one of exclusion and high turnover of staff results in high recruitment costs. It is becoming all too apparent that companies that incorporate a consistent diversity program and promote inclusion in the workplace are experiencing valuable benefits.

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