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How to Find out if a Company has a Genuine Interest on Diversity and Inclusion?

In recent years, companies from small size to big size show interest to make their workplace diverse and inclusive more than ever. This is not a surprise considering the major benefits of diversity and inclusion to organisations, such as an increase in productivity, innovation, employee engagement and retention. But how to find out if this interest is genuine? In this article, we will talk about the signs of genuine interest and progress of diversity and inclusion in organisations.

Why is the genuine interest important?

First of all, approaching diversity and inclusion as a trend to be followed is quite common today. Have you heard of any organisation stated that they have no interest to bring diversity or inclusion to their workplaces? Here comes the importance. Everybody is talking about it. Distinguishing the genuine interest will help current and potential clients, employees and business partners to build trust and make the right decision to make a deal or not. This may result in saving or losing millions for your business.

The danger of diversity marketing

Promoting your organisation as a diverse and inclusive, in fact, is a very dangerous and has a lot of consequences. Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500 described it as "diversish" in the Web Economic Forum, in Davos last year. I call it "diversity as a marketing tool". They may have great photos/videos of different background employees in their career page, however, in reality, their employee engagement and retention may be really low.

No action

Starting by building awareness about diversity and inclusion internally is a great initiative. However, it is not enough. If building awareness is not leading to any change in the organisation, this is a significant sign that that organisation may not genuine in its actions.

According to EY, in Ireland, boards are 92% white, 74% male with low levels of disability and LGBT representation. Read here

The true meaning of diversity policies

"We have a policy for this." My reply follows:

- Why? What made you make this policy?

- Who requested/needed this policy? What was the initial problem?

- Have you included the employees who needed this policy in the process?

- Does everybody know about this policy?

- Who drives this?

Having a policy on paper which doesn't have any meaning to employees will not lead to change in the organisation.

Top-down approach

Excluding employees who will be directly affected by this change in the policymaking process is the biggest mistake a company can make on the diversity and inclusion journey. This may also result in the policy not being accepted or owned.

Choosing wrong partners

I often come across to diversity trainings. This particular one had all (9) speakers from the same background. Would you trust in a service provider that doesn't include any diverse voices in its core team while guiding you how to be diverse and inclusive ?

Wrong investment

There is a misconception that starting diversity programs need high investment. Moreover, I hear this a lot "we are only a small company, we don't have a budget for this". In reality, most of diversity and inclusion programs include a lot of engagement activities which can be started with the right consultant and followed to be led internally. Starting to invest in these programs proves a genuine interest in making a real change than sponsoring high-cost events. Partnering with third party consultants may have a significant impact with the help of their expertise. With the right vision and strategy, the conversation can start today from scratch.

Furkan Karayel, a diversity and inclusion strategist, women in tech and female founders ambassador. Founded after 10 years of software engineering experience. Diversity and Inclusion lead at Startup Week Dublin. Advisory board member at InspiringSTEM and Sprinters, global organisations to support diverse female entrepreneurs and young generation STEM. Honoured with "Diversity and Inclusion Role Model in Business" and "Trailblazer" Awards.

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