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Debunking EDI: What does an authentic organisation look like?

Your people. It all comes down to knowing who each of your people are and being comfortable with the entire spectrum. This in turn allows you to harness the power of the diversity that makes up your organisation, so let’s talk Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Diversity is key in any organisation, regardless of size. People are the lifeblood of your business, and ensuring that they feel seen and heard could be the critical difference between going it solo, and attracting talent that helps you build a truly global business.

But the question remains: What does an authentically diverse, equitable and inclusive organisation look like? What does the culture of such an organisation entail, and how can you tell as a prospective employee, collaborator or client?

It has been well documented that diverse and inclusive organisations are typically more successful. According to the latest data from the ratio of white people in employment, compared to people from all other ethnic groups combined is 8:7 – almost equal. This ratio shows just how diverse the UK workforce has become and reflects where the world population is headed. In fact, according to the UN, by the year 2100, 90% of the world will be made up of Africans and Asians. Therefore, there will be more people from Nigeria, China and India than from the US and Europe combined. It is time that organisations really begin to think about what increased diversity means for the future of work.

But first, what do we mean by diversity?

Diversity as a term continues to be applied fairly ambiguously in discussions about multiculturalism. Therefore, the notion of ‘difference’, which promotes an opportunity to clearly distinguish between particular attributes of people, is steadily being replaced by the concept of diversity, which in juxtaposition accentuates the multiplicity and intersections between our origins as human beings. So, diversity not only incorporates people of different races, ethnicities, ages, abilities, disabilities, genders, religions, sexual orientations and cultures, it also includes the range of values, perspectives and ideas that people have. It also refers to people’s diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and expertise, including demographics that are not widely represented in society or select industries.

It therefore follows that cultural diversity includes the embodiment of numerous (preferably all) societies in a specified setting, such as a place of work. Underlying the current usage of this concept is the stress on tolerating and being approving of cultural differences through the recognition that no single culture is inherently more supreme than another. Cultural diversity is therefore essential for human beings as a basis for reciprocity, originality and innovation and should therefore be acknowledged for the good of the current as well as the future generation of employees. As you can see there are a lot of aspects to consider in the discussion about diversity.

However, countries around the world, including the UK, are tackling complicated issues that accompany the influx of foreign groups of people who emigrate with languages, attitudes, beliefs and principles that contradict those typical of the host nation. Inevitably many controversies will surface in the workplace and in many cases, be perceived negatively by both employers and employees. But just imagine a world where a diverse workforce is seen for the resource that it is, rather than being perceived as problematic. What if diversity could be used to enhance discussions surrounding a lot of these controversial issues?

It is possible to do so, but this would require awareness on the leadership’s part, of the issues that are continually changing within the different societies that are represented. These complexities suggest that employers should not only have an awareness of other peoples’ backgrounds and experiences but will need to think about how to capture diverse knowledge for use as an educational resource for the wider workforce. Knowledge that is idiosyncratic to a particular culture/society and therefore personified by opinions, judgments, views and beliefs of people and shaped by perpetual interactions amongst them, their environment and their culture, is referred to as indigenous knowledge. Thus, employers should be focused on enhancing this indigenous knowledge alongside employees’ competences in order to empower them. This implies that knowledge from people from various cultural backgrounds could be used as a powerful tool for the education, upskilling and shared understanding of all involved.

With all of the above in mind, what does an authentic organisation look like?

One thing seems certain about the future of organisations, and it is that businesses have got a challenge of attracting and retaining staff. Therefore, employers need to be focused on how to create and maintain an authentic organisation that people want to work for by letting people really be themselves at work. Authenticity builds trust so it is important that organisations consistently demonstrate their corporate values whilst allowing their people to express themselves in a way that is genuinely them, rather than attempting to homogenise the workforce.

We should consider that corporate culture influences the interactivity between colleagues and senior management and their intercultural relationships. In addition, it is important to note that the sub-cultures present within the organisation comprise both the shallow, more noticeable attributes (e.g. language) as well as the less observable differences (e.g. communication style) that exist between diverse groups of people. The less observable, innate cultural variations are the most difficult to navigate. Therefore, instead of aiming to accommodate every single nuance, it is worth establishing a handful of shared values as you get to know who your people are.

Furthermore, despite advancements in modern technology, real time conversation is still the most effective way of honouring the importance of talking to one another. Afterall, the more conversations one has with someone from a different background, which is most of us nowadays, the more we will naturally learn about each other. Additionally, in an authentic organisation people should feel comfortable to talk about matters that concern them and feel that it is safe to suggest new initiatives without backlash.

In conjunction with our partner, Kevin Bazeley @ IDEEA Limited, we have come up with our comprehensive Growing Authentic Organisations Course for business owners who want to enhance their organisations' inclusivity and diversity, making them safe spaces that attract top talent and clientele regardless, of race, background, sexual orientation or religion.

So how does your workplace ensure that its diverse employee pool always feels included and important?

Are you a business owner looking to make sure you don't miss a beat in ensuring that you expand by being attractive to talent from all walks of life?

Visit our website to take a look at our training programme or book a call with us today and let's get you started on your journey to being an authentically inclusive business owner! Visit Gen A Academy today and get in touch.

To your success!


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