Investors in diversity takes world of work beyond business as normal
As the vaccine roll-out bears fruit, we will be bouncing back to a world of work that is far from business as normal. In a rare occasion in history, a great shift in workplace culture has come from the grassroots rather than being imposed from the top down. Working from home sees greater value placed on human interconnectivity and emotional connections at work. ‘Desktop Leadership’ is being consigned to history and post-pandemic leaders need to be fair, empathetic, sympathetic, supportive and engaging. Simultaneously, the Black Lives Matter movement has been a lightning rod to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) progress in the workplace and business needs to ensure all people are addressed. With this heightened and lasting focus on Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement (FREDIE), now more than ever, leaders need to ‘walk the talk’ of delivering the places that people want to work.
It is two years since Irish Centre for Diversity (ICFD) launched Investors in Diversity at Ibec’s Diversity Forum. In that time over 80 companies including Aer Lingus, Matheson, Aon Insurance, Eaton, Core, Woodies, Three Ireland, William Fry, CBRE, FBD Insurance, Laya Healthcare, Morgan McKinley and others - from a range of sectors and all at different stages of their EDI journey – have been engaged and are working through the framework of Ireland's only EDI accreditation mark for business.
Investors in Diversity has been built on over 12 years of EDI expertise and the accreditation is not a ‘badge’ of merit but is valued for providing a clear framework for continuous EDI improvement with the tools and resources to support businesses on each step of the journey. While there can be many triggers to starting the EDI journey - such as focussing on inclusive recruitment and retention, compliance, evidence for tender requirements and many others including simply 'doing the right thing' – businesses call on Investors in Diversity for clarity about where they are, where they need to go and also to measure the improvements they are working through to ensure what they are doing is tangible.
Investors in Diversity is structured for businesses that are either just starting, or have well-established EDI policies and measures. The programme lays out defined outcomes on the journey of continuous improvement, through three progressive levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Investors in Diversity Bronze centres on a business committing to EDI progress and preparing strong systems and procedures with leadership on board for the EDI journey ahead and establishes a firm foundation.
Investors in Diversity Silver strengthens EDI strategies and informs the way forward by getting under the skin of the company culture. Silver accreditation includes a number of elements that set out a baseline of where the business stands and benchmarking against peers is especially valued for giving a direction on where to go next. An EDI action plan - aligned to the Investors in Diversity Gold framework - is drawn up and presented to the leadership team, so they can understand what is working well in the organisation and what they need to be thinking of to move forward.
While Bronze and Silver sit together in ensuring a firm foundation from which to embed EDI in the business with policies and procedures to transform the company culture, businesses progress to the top tier of Investors in Diversity for irrefutable evidence of EDI excellence and demonstrating that it is embedded as part the company’s DNA. Investors in Diversity Gold calls for continuous improvement and measures the external impact of the company’s EDI activities. Gold’s process attributes a rating for demonstrating the ‘lived experience’ of embedding EDI against a framework of five pillars.
Accreditation at this level is not the end of the journey and businesses return for re-assessment every two years. The process focuses on continuous improvement and this highlights what steps need to be done for further development as the area and legislation evolves. The business is reassessed to examine the impact of current activities with the goal of reaccreditation with higher scores.
The cultural shift that lockdown and BLM brought means that examining an organisation’s EDI progress is no longer reserved for Millennials and Gen-Zers - characterised by their social consciousness and now the largest consumer grouping and largest demographic in many workforces. Innovation and productivity gains come when people can be their full and true selves at work without the distraction of dealing with discrimination and avoiding stigma, but businesses and business leaders are no longer solely judged on P&L. People from diverse and minority backgrounds want leaders to speak up on their behalf, in places where they are not represented such as the boardroom and other centres of power, but also to enable the marginalised to speak as well. Investors in Diversity empowers all of this to happen.
Irish Centre for Diversity works in partnership with organisations to help them develop and implement strategies that embed EDI in all they do. ICFD moves beyond ticking boxes by informing and positively influencing beliefs, attitudes, behaviour and conduct around EDI. ICFD’s collaborative process is applied to bespoke programmes and consultancy services to help organisations to transform their work environments into a productive setting which is more equitable and inclusive.