The importance of equality and diversity within the workplace is something that cannot be stressed enough. Meeting the expected standards in order to comply with legislation means that companies are not only benefiting themselves, but also their customers and clients.
By following these rules and regulations, companies are not only creating a fairer system all round, but also building a business that is more appealing to their audience.
It should be expected that business environments are free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation but, unfortunately, this isn't always the reality once you start to delve behind the scenes of a company.
Not only does it impact the people within the business, but also the customers of the business. If the company has a diverse workforce, they'll likely be more diverse in terms of the customers they work with.
'Variety is the spice of life' - a statement that couldn't be more applicable than in the workplace. If you actively promote equality and diversity (and have a policy to match) then your business will thrive, and people of all backgrounds can come together, whether they work for you or are your customers. If you aren't willing to employ a range of people, you are automatically limiting which customers you can appeal to, something that ultimately limits your long-term success.
Only through having a diverse workplace can you reflect your customers and clients. If your workforce matches up with the demographic you're serving, then you're showing an awareness of your current society. If you have a range of people working for you with a range of opinions then it makes it much easier to target a wider range of clients, which brings you profit by increasing your market, but also affects the consumers out there by providing them with an inclusive and diverse business.
The Customer Need for Compliance:
Efforts made towards diversity and equality can often end up being forgotten by the employers, something that impacts their customers too. 41% of people in a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management said their company was "too busy" to prioritise diversity. This attitude needs to be changed by organisations being more proactive in their workplace management when it comes to diversity and equality. By doing this, it's not only the business employees that benefit, but also the customers.
The Equality Act 2010
The Act was introduced in the UK to eliminate unlawful discrimination, create equal opportunities, and promote good relations between people in a workforce. It also makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers. It pushes employers to be more responsible when it comes to dealing with discriminatory behaviour and making the necessary adjustments so that everyone has the same opportunities.
Most specifically, the Act defines 9 protected characteristics that people can't discriminate against:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual Orientation
A diverse workforce shouldn't be seen as an added extra that customers look for when it comes to business, it should be a given. Including diversity and equality in the general business plan will benefit you in the long term.
In the UK, the population is growing more varied in terms of ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and religions, so the workforce you are willing to take on needs to reflect the employees that are out there. Additionally, the workforce needs to reflect the customers you are serving in order to create an efficient customer service. If you have a business team that doesn't represent the customers, then you will struggle to ever build up a strong enough network of customers willing to invest in you because you just appear to be out of touch with current affairs.
We know that diversity and inclusion is good for business. Research by McKinsey & Co found that a business with a healthy balance of men and women in the workforce is likely to outperform their competitors by 15%, whilst a group with a mixture of ethnic backgrounds is 35% more likely. Plus, for every 1% increase in gender diversity, there is a company revenue increase of 3%.
These statistics are simple. Diversity increases revenue, and increased revenue means more customers – so increased diversity leads to more customers. Customers clearly want diversity, so a business promoting those qualities is giving customers exactly what they want.