Embedding EDI in your internal procedures: points to consider
Many organisations are considering a review of their policies and procedures to ensure they are fully compliant with their key equality and diversity objectives and corporate strategy.
We understand that organisations need to put processes in place which are not just suitable for now, but are robust, forward looking and dynamic enough to meet future needs in the face of an evolving set of legal requirements.
Here we identify the key points to consider when embedding equality, diversity and inclusion throughout your internal procedures.
#1 Data: your people and your management
An equality impact assessment (EIA) is an evidence-based review which helps organisations to ensure that their policies, practices, events and decision-making processes do not present barriers to participation or disadvantage any protected groups from participation. EIA’s cover both strategic and operational activities.
What information and data do you collect through an EIA, and how often? Think about who collects this data and how it’s fed into your systems. You could consider external benchmarking against other comparable peers and similar-sized organisations.
This data must also be shared with your executive board, so they can incorporate the findings into their decision-making process when setting EDI objectives and KPI’s for your organisation.
It’s up to your senior management to set and prioritise EDI strategic objectives. It’s therefore crucial to ‘start from the top’ and recruit diverse trustees (read more in our Diversity in Action article on Governance).
Key diversity pillars to factor into your KPIs include those which are protected by law:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Sexual orientation
Additional diversity pillars you may wish to include as a matter of best practice are:
- Caring responsibilities
- Socio-economic status
#2 How are your objectives incorporated into core processes and activities?
EDI objectives should be incorporated into:
- Education and training
- Performance reviews
Infrastructure and support need to be in place to achieve this. Provide training in equal opportunities to managers and others likely to be involved in recruitment (or other decision making) where equal opportunities issues are likely to arise. Offer training to all your people in the areas of equality and diversity, including unconscious bias training.
It’s best practice to monitor diversity via your recruitment and induction processes/ procedures as well as via anonymous surveys. To increase transparency, your organisation should produce annual diversity charts which can be circulated internally and externally.
#3 How are EDI issues and risks identified throughout your organisation?
Put clear response/mitigation processes in place, which are clearly communicated across the organisation.
Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, workers who make a disclosure about unlawful activity are protected from detriment and termination of their employment because of making that disclosure.
It’s therefore important to have a whistleblowing policy, so employees can be pointed in the right direction if an EDI concern is raised. Seek to create an environment where the raising of genuine concerns by workers is encouraged.
#4 Futureproof your organisation: learn your lessons
Set a timetable for carrying out lessons learned exercises on an ongoing basis. It’s really important our lessons learned are consistently transformed into appropriate actions in order to embed these reforms into future practice.
Progress on objectives should also be monitored to ensure continuous improvement and future-proof the organisation. Are your senior management held accountable for their delivery, and do you have KPI’s in place?
It’s also important to note that regardless of how many policies and procedures are put in place, leadership, communication and ongoing commitment at the highest senior levels is vital to ensuring a compelling, shared vision of why EDI is important to your organisation and what its goals are. This is also fundamental to ensure genuine and long-lasting change.
#5 When and where to start
It’s never too early or late to start thinking about your EDI strategy, or to consider conducting a review of your procedures.
There are simple steps an organisation can take, and Bates Wells can advise on all aspects of EDI, from reviewing or drafting specific policies to conducting full-scale audits and reviews.
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