Authenticity at work means existing as your real, whole self.
At first glance you might think that responsibility falls on individual employees, but it doesn’t. The Equality Act 2010 sets the standards employers need to meet to make sure they’re not discriminating against age, disability, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, gender reassignment, or sexual orientation at work.
But in reality, your business should go much further than simply meeting those standards. A good diversity strategy doesn’t just tick boxes—it increases employee productivity, helps open your business up to new markets, and makes your company more attractive to jobseekers.
To earn those benefits, though, you must create an environment where staff can be themselves. If your staff don’t feel they have opportunities to express themselves, they may hold on to valuable skills or brilliant ideas because they’re too afraid to share them.
So without further ado, here are three ready-to-go ideas to encourage your staff to be themselves at work this pride month…
1. Have diverse representation in leadership
When staff members see themselves reflected in their leaders, they see an established and respected member of staff that they can turn to for support. Their presence creates a safe space where under-represented groups can feel comfortable contributing to wider business conversations.
And when underrepresented groups have more say, your performance skyrockets. A McKinsey study found companies with great gender diversity were 15% more likely to outperform less diverse companies, and companies with greater ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to do the same.
On the other hand, a lack of representation can make diverse employees feel like their presence is an insincere gesture at diversity, leading them to feel isolated and disengaged. So, if you fill your top-level team with people who all look, act, and live like one another, your company’s productivity could suffer—and so could your reputation.
2. Use gender neutral language
Traditionally, people have used masculine language as the default option. You only have to look at the word ‘mankind’ to find an example.
But masculine language creates and reinforces gender stereotypes that put men at the top of the social pyramid. And in doing so, everyone else becomes a minority. It can make your staff feel uncomfortable or disadvantaged, and hold them back from reaching their full potential.
For trans individuals, language is incredibly important—specifically, pronouns.
Their pronouns might be different to what you expect, so it’s best to check before you make assumptions. Consistently using the correct pronouns for trans folk will help them feel more comfortable expressing themselves in the future. It also sets the right example for the rest of your staff to follow.
If you want a more in-depth look, we’ve got a whole other blog post about neutral language.
3. Create a strong diversity and inclusivity policy
Most companies have a diversity and inclusion policy to make sure they’re compliant with the Equality Act 2010. But not all companies have a proper policy that both protects their business and genuinely supports their staff.
And if your policy doesn’t lay down clear expectations for diversity and inclusion, your business won’t feel any of the benefits diverse staff bring.
A top-class diversity and inclusion policy should:
- Define what “diversity” and “inclusion” mean in your business.
- Clearly describe the desired culture.
- Give examples of programmes, plans, or initiatives that your business uses to create and maintain that culture.
- Make senior management accountable for diversity and inclusion objectives, its communication, and upholding its importance in the workplace.
- Give space for staff to sign and show that they’ve read and are committed to the policy.
The good news is, you don’t have to spend days carefully crafting your own perfect policy—because BrightHR can do the hard work for you.
Our BrightAdvice service gives you instant access to employment law experts whenever you need them. Plus, with the BrightBase document library you can download sample document templates to help you create perfect policies for your business. Book your free demo today!