Diversity & Inclusion Policy: The 10 policies your organisation needs
Rachael Wilson, Managing Director of EW Group, sets out the 10 equality and diversity policies businesses should consider for diversity and inclusion.
Systemic inclusion starts with robust policies. A full suite of inclusive company policies is a must for creating a culture of equity and belonging. The business case is clear — businesses that proactively address diversity and inclusion in their policy-making are coming out on top, both in terms of financial performance and employee engagement and retention.
In addition, the growing focus across many industries on ensuring diversity and equality within their supply chains means having clear policies in place is a must for business success. Increasingly, client standards and tender processes request these policies and assurance of the ethical operation of their suppliers.
At EW Group, we work closely with our clients to review the inclusiveness of their policies, as well as identifying policy areas that need to be developed or strengthened. Through a collaborative approach working with HR teams, senior leadership, staff working groups and more, we consult with staff on how effectively existing policies are brought to life to ensure employee issues and concerns are addressed satisfactorily.
We know that no two organisations are the same so each will need a different suite of diversity policies, tailored to their unique business. As a starting point, we’ve put together our top 10 policies that will provide the foundations for an inclusive workplace and culture:
- Diversity & Inclusion Policy
- Recruitment & Selection Policy
- Flexible Working Policy
- Work-Life Policy
- Code of Conduct
- Dignity at Work / Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination Policy
- Disability & Reasonable Adjustments Policy
- Trans-inclusion Policy
- Whistleblowing Policy
- Mental Health, Wellbeing & Menopause Policy
This is not an exhaustive list and the specific policies your organisation needs might differ depending on scale, industry and sector. If you’re a start-up shaping your first team, a Global Mobility Policy might not be at the top of your priority list. However, ensuring your Recruitment Policy is inclusive at its core and enables you to attract and hire the best talent – absolutely is. The key is that everyone is considered in creation and application of policy, and that even with processes that might not seem to have direct people-impact, that DE&I is considered through an analysis of those who might benefit and those that might be disadvantaged.
Diversity & Inclusion Policy
A Diversity & Inclusion Policy is a fundamental policy critical to employee engagement. The policy should state the organisation’s commitment to ensuring an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace. The policy should also include the process for making complaints of discrimination in the workplace, and how the company will monitor and assess the effectiveness of the policy and working best practices.
The Diversity & Inclusion policy should also cover the support and provisions made available for disabled individuals.
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Recruitment & Selection Policy
This policy should detail the steps the business is taking to ensure an unbiased recruitment and selection process. A good process will be designed to be transparent, consistent and evident of proactive support, and be explicit in its intentions to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.
The process itself should include clearly defined and inclusive job descriptions, assessing where you advertise the role with different groups in mind, the application process, and how the company will make reasonable adjustments in the interview process.
Shortlisting and interviewing should be consistent with steps taken to mitigate the opportunity for bias; name-blank CVs, diverse panels and interview scoring can all support this.
In the end, the business case for hiring and retaining diverse talent is clear and a robust, inclusive recruitment and selection policy will only help you get there.
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Flexible Working Policy
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working has increased globally. Many organisations previously sceptical have been surprised by the clear benefits, not only for their employees, but also to the bottom line via heightened engagement and productivity. The ‘new way of working’ is here to stay, and many employees will now simply expect a degree of flexibility in their working patterns. In addition, adopting an effective Flexible Working Policy can help those with family and personal needs thrive without the constraints of fixed working hours and an ability to work away from the office.
A clear and transparent flexible working policy is crucial to ensuring expectations are aligned between the business and employees, and there is a clear process for requesting it.
A Work-Life Policy should encompass parental, shared parental, adoption, surrogacy and family-friendly leave, and support employees who are transitioning.
Several companies have also recently begun to introduce new policy addressing pregnancy loss, offering additional support for employees who have experienced miscarriages.
Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct should essentially set out how the organisation expects its employees to behave in the workplace. This should include complying with requirements such as health and safety and environmental laws. The policy should detail the standards of professionalism expected such as appearance/dress code, corruption and anti-bribery, employee benefits and an expectation of open and honest communication from all.
Should an employee be in breach of the organisation’s Code of Conduct, it is important to ensure a robust Disciplinary and Grievance Policy that has the right EDI clauses is in place.
Dignity at Work / Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination Policy
These policies must be crystal clear in setting out the organisation’s values and its requirements under the Equality Act 2010. And although a policy can’t cover every aspect of unwanted behaviour, it needs to clarify what sexual harassment is and that it could constitute gross misconduct.
Leaders and HR managers must ensure that policies communicate the right things, and that there is a formal procedure in place should anyone have a complaint. This means following up with anyone who flags misconduct and keeping them informed of how you are tackling the complaint. Looking the other way does not help anyone.
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Disability & Reasonable Adjustments Policy
A Disability & Reasonable Adjustments Policy should detail how the organisation will make adjustments to ensure adequate support and accessibility for the disabled. This could mean making adaptations to the workplace, purchasing specialised equipment, flexible working arrangements and additional support. There is no absolute definition of what is reasonable, but organisations should consider whether an adjustment is effective, practical and affordable.
The policy should also consider hidden disabilities, learning disabilities and reasonable adjustments and support needed for affected individuals.
A Trans-Inclusion Policy should detail the company’s commitment to the equality of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the workplace, free from discrimination or harassment. The policy should set out its intent and the organisation’s responsibilities to ensuring these, as well as the rights of the individual. It should include guidance and support on those transitioning, the process of updating personal details, and the process for reporting discriminatory behaviour.
A trans-inclusion policy should consider transgender people at all times, not just those are transitioning, and may also cover support available for those with a family member who is transitioning.
A Whistleblowing Policy should provide a definition of whistleblowing and relevant examples. It should capture how employees can raise and resolve serious issues and concerns, and outline how the organisation will respond and the process for handling the concerns flagged.
Whistle-blowers are protected by law and if an employer dismisses or unfairly treats the employee, the matter can be brought to a tribunal.
Mental Health, Wellbeing & Menopause Policy & Inclusion Policy
This policy should communicate the importance of mental wellbeing, how the organisation ensures a safe workplace and its commitment to staff wellbeing.
It is helpful to include details of the resources and support available to employees, whether this be on-demand counselling, contact details for appropriate helplines and associations, or mental health first aiders in the business they can speak to.
It is also important to consider specific menopause policies to support women managing the symptoms of the menopause in the workplace. This should address flexible and hybrid working, training for managers, guidance on where to source additional healthcare information and providing feedback.
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EW can create and review your policies with diversity and inclusion in mind, helping you strengthen your business and create a more inclusive culture.