Without taking a holistic approach to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), companies compromise their efforts and are in danger of being perceived as only paying lip service to the cause, warns Jeniz White, associate at Browne Jacobson LLP
A factor in assessing any company’s approach to EDI is how it deals with the challenge of enabling conversations related to social and political developments.
Several tech companies, for example, have recently been reported as having banned “political” talk at work. This potentially risks fostering a culture of diminished engagement from personnel, and risks allegations, externally or internally, of censorship or suppression.
Similarly, an organisation’s equality impact is often measured by their willingness to advocate for those without power, publicly challenge social inequity and ensure their working practices/business do not perpetuate injustice or exploitation.
No business operates in a vacuum. If an organisation wants to foster and champion EDI it must take full account of all the intrinsic and extrinsic factors which could affect its culture and the roles and responsibilities of individuals.
This is especially true, for instance, in financial services regulation, where UK regulators have sought to encourage organisations to take responsibility for leading change within the industry as a whole by taking practical steps on broader issues.
It is often said, regarding an individual’s personal wellbeing, that “the person who is best placed to take care of the person you will one day become is the person you are now”. The same can be said for any business or wider industry.
There are many reasons – legal, regulatory, operational and ethical – for organisations to continue to push for change and improvement in the EDI space. There are clear signs of intent, but only time will tell if it is enough to change the status quo.