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Fostering inclusion in small businesses to meet diversity goals

By Gloria Nwafor
24 May 2022   |   4:20 am
Improving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) in a small business requires commitment to hiring a diverse workforce and engaging them once hired, Human Resource (HR) experts have said.

Improving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) in a small business requires commitment to hiring a diverse workforce and engaging them once hired, Human Resource (HR) experts have said.

They are of the view that even though small businesses do not have the resources of large organisations, there are many things they could do to meet diversity goals.

Indeed, small businesses have a brighter future when they are diverse and inclusive. But for most small organisations, it takes work to build a team that reflects the demographics of their community. It certainly doesn’t happen by chance.

As part of celebrations in marking this year’s International HR Day, every May 20, with the theme ‘Shaping the New Future’, the European Association for People Management (EAPM), creator and sponsor of International HR Day, said it was leading a future that will be more inclusive, flexible and participative.

It said the theme of the celebration focuses on one that will benefit workers, organisations and society as a whole, as well as how small business HR teams could shape the future.

HR expert, Liz Strikwerda of Workforce Hub, who shared some tips for increasing DEIB in talent sourcing, said organisations should understand that diversity goes beyond ethnicity and gender–considering socioeconomic groups, age, family status, work experience and location.

She advised that organisations should hire for skills, not just degrees and they should make sure job descriptions do not include unnecessary requirements.

She advised that diversified recruitment panels should expand the collective experience of hiring decision makers and reduce bias, even as she urged that managers should be trained on how to avoid bias.

“Of course, once you have hired a diverse team, your work is not over. You won’t retain them if you are not intentional about creating a culture where they can thrive. This is the “belonging” part of DEIB.

“An inclusive culture comes from the top down. Leadership must set a good example day in and day out that line managers can emulate for their teams. Consider diversity training. The HR team can own diversity initiatives, manage training and measure progress,” she said.

On how to foster inclusion in small businesses, as well as fostering belonging for all employees in organisations, Strikwerda, said there is the need to scrutinise promotion criteria and practices to make everyone have an equal chance for advancement.

She said: “If you have a hybrid work model, default to “remote-first” processes so those working remotely (often women, single parents, minorities and those with disabilities) have an easier time participating in meetings.

“Seek employee feedback on how to improve inclusion–an anonymous suggestion box in your HR portal may prompt employees to be more candid and frank with their suggestions. Celebrate all holidays, not just traditional ones.”

She said there is the need to recognise all employees for their contributions.

According to her, leadership and HR must be proactive in engaging and supporting all workers, especially those from underrepresented groups.–

Noting that everyone was responsible for owning culture, she maintained that professionals are uniquely positioned to do more.

She said HR professionals could do this strategically by ensuring cultural components are operationalised throughout the employee lifecycle, ranging from talent selection tools, onboarding, performance expectations and recognition programmes, among others.

With culture reinforced every step of the way, she added that it becomes ingrained. Lindsay Gainor, Kent Power (in Forbes Small Business)

Meanwhile, as the HR Day was commemorated globally, in Nigeria, the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM), held a two-kilometre road walk in the Central Business District, Ikeja, in joining its voice to celebrate HR managers.

President of CIPM, Olusegun Mojeed, who said HR was the heart of the business, said the day provided the avenue to recognise HR professionals and publicise the significant contributions it is making to the people development agenda across the country.

While nothing that the place of human resource management could not be relegated in the corporate world, he said the progress or otherwise of any organisation was to a large extent a function of how well human capital managers could manage the people for the growth and development of the organisation.