Diversity, inclusion and representation in the workplace has never been a hotter topic than it is today. But what does it actually mean? What can advisers do to embrace the principles of diversity and inclusion in their workplaces? And why should you bother?
In a nutshell, diversity and inclusion is good for business. It’s very positive and progressive, but you might be thinking it’s much easier for larger businesses with big budgets to act on. What about SMEs and ‘micro-businesses’? What does it actually mean for us? How is it relevant? And what opportunities to benefit are there for advisers who embrace diversity and inclusion into their businesses?
Well… in the UK, small businesses make a big difference
The numbers speak for themselves: the UK is a nation of ‘micro-businesses’, with 96% of companies employing 10 people or fewer.1 Research also shows that 19% of working-age adults are disabled,2 just over 1 million identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual,3 and the consumer spending power of Britain's ethnic minorities is more than £300bn a year.4 There’s a hugely diverse talent pool and customer base at our fingertips, so why aren’t we all making the most of that?
These changing demographics highlight why embracing and understanding diversity and difference can bring tangible benefits for advisers. It allows agile, small businesses to genuinely satisfy their clients’ diverse needs, as well as attracting the next generation of talent to the industry. It gives you the perspective and empathy to understand the needs and challenges of an ageing client base who need a different approach to insuring their futures, and helps you be sensitive while developing solutions for same-sex partnerships.
But what are the benefits?
We’ve found that embracing diversity in our own workforce, as well as respecting the differences seen in our customer base, has introduced a number of advantages, from increased ability to attract talent, to greater innovation and improved financial performance. And it’s not just us. Research shows companies who embrace ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have above-average financial returns, and those who have a positive approach to gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors.5
Understanding and taking a positive position on diversity and inclusion really can make a difference to you and your clients. It can give you competitive advantage, enabling you to be more targeted, which can result in deeper, more valuable client relationships. It can help make you integral to your clients’ long-term planning and enable you to attract the next generation of talented individuals who will shape the future of insurance.
So, the question isn’t ‘What difference does diversity and inclusion make to you?’, but whether or not you can afford to ignore the positive difference you can make through your business.
Ready to make a start?
When promoting diversity and inclusion in your business, perfection shouldn’t be your end goal. If you don’t have an ‘exact’ plan or all the resources you need, why not start by taking some smaller steps to improve employee morale? You could distribute some general diversity and inclusion communications to your workforce to let them know you’re trying to do better. Or why not allow some employees to work flexibly, to show you’re willing to work with their needs? These small changes can have a large impact, as just knowing you’re making changes can improve employee attitudes and enhance your reputation. Can you afford to ignore the positive difference you can make in your business?
Are you looking to put some diversity and inclusion plans into action? How would you like to see the landscape change?
1. House of Commons Business Statistics Briefing Paper 2017
2. DWP Family Resources Survey 2016/17
3. Office for National Statistics – Sexual identity, UK: 2016
4. Multi-Cultural Communications, Weber Shandwick, 2010
5. McKinsey, Why diversity matters 2015