Updated: May 6, 2020
What are the benefits of staff diversity networks and how they are useful in developing an inclusive workplace culture?
This blog post will look at the benefits of diversity networks and analyse 5 key opportunities created by their development.
There are several organisational benefits of staff diversity networks.
Organisations are being held to account for the ways in which they recruit and progress diverse people within the workplace.
The unfairness with which some diverse staff members are treated in the workplace, and the recent publishing of gender pay gaps, have drawn attention to diversity and inclusion.
Society is increasingly reminded that issues of unfairness, discrimination and bias are still prevalent, and must be dealt with.
Supporting the Diversity and Inclusion Agenda
It is time that the management and monitoring of workplace diversity is given top priority. Strategies must be put in place to increase inclusion and eliminate cultural, racial and gender bias.
Organisations are being tasked to focus more efforts on strategic tools, that can embed diversity and inclusion across the full spectrum of their operations.
They are being tasked to look at how they recruit, promote and manage people across the business.
They are being tasked to analyse the ways in which this reflects on the promotion of a diverse and inclusive workplace, where all members of staff have fair opportunity to develop and succeed.
One of the ways that organisations are seeking to implement and promote this, is through the establishment of staff diversity networks.
Staff diversity networks are useful to engage staff and management, around the particular issues that face a body of diverse employees.
They create the opportunity for employees to discuss the matters surrounding diversity and inclusion within the workplace, that they believe require attention from management.
These can be matters relating to recruitment, management styles, promotion, learning and development or anything that the network thinks needs addressing.
Networks help to filter areas that require some consideration, reflection or strategic development within the workplace and across business operations.
Staff diversity networks can take any shape. Some organisations develop forums for BAME or LGBTI employees; Others are created to discuss and manage issues relating to women, working parents, staff with carer responsibilities, religion and belief, people with disabilities and homeworking.
Progressive organisations realise the utility in setting up staff diversity networks to inform their recruitment, management and learning strategies.
Networks can be set up as a result of surveys or as a means of gathering the views of employees from diverse backgrounds.
They can be useful to understand the viewpoints of staff groups that are underrepresented, to develop processes for inclusion.
Staff diversity networks can bridge the gap between management and respective networks, where there has not yet been full engagement.
Diversity networks are helpful in developing staff engagement, helping to contribute to the development of whole organisation diversity and inclusion development.
There are many opportunities and benefits that staff diversity networks can bring to an organisation. They can be a catalyst for the process of learning and development, that can innovate the company.
They can create opportunities for the overall workforce, customers, clients and help drive understanding. This is useful for any organisation wishing to embed an inclusive workplace environment across its operations.
Diversity networks create strategic opportunities for both management and staff within organisations. These include:
1. Increasing staff input through targeted representation.
By developing diversity networks, an organisation can build understanding of the needs of specific groups with shared differences, and create opportunities for inclusion.
As mentioned before, networks can be build around specific interest e.g race, culture, sexuality, religion and belief, people with disabilities, carers, homeworking... the list is not exhaustive.
Those with particular experience of group concern, can share and represent, with a true understanding of the specific needs and concerns of the group.
This provides the perfect opportunity for management to learn about, and create strategies and structures for driving diversity and inclusive practice.