Equality planning is an important part of creating a more inclusive culture. The process can be utilised at both company and team level. A good supervisor regularly reviews the atmosphere of their team.
Planning becomes more effective when it is done with team members. The most critical aspect of planning is reviewing the current situation. All team members, especially those in under-represented groups, need to be actively heard.
Start by defining why the work community needs a more inclusive culture. Is the need related to customers, or is there an internal need for change? Is there any opposition to change within the work community? The whole process should be founded on the company’s value base.
Collect all possible information about the company and the teams. Try to understand the current situation as accurately as possible. Who feels they belong, and who doesn’t? What are the characteristics of the excluded persons (e.g. age, gender, educational background, religion, sexual orientation)? Also, think about what kind of people want to work in a team. Who’s leaving the team if things don’t change? When is the change supposed to happen?
The best way to collect information is an inclusion survey, which can include a quantitative online survey, individual interviews and small group interviews.
The ultimate aim of the survey is to ensure that we do not base possible actions on myths and stereotypes but on knowledge.
Surveys should take place at least annually. Regular surveys convey the importance of the matter and the company’s commitment to developing it.
Content of an inclusion survey
|Identify all forms of discrimination defined by law|
|Structural discrimination (recruitment, orientation, division of tasks, access to training, deciding benefits, definition of responsibilities, development of the work community, layoffs and redundancies) is taken into account|
|Belonging, wellbeing, mental safety|
|Level of inclusion|
|Level of commitment|
When you understand the need and the current situation, you can start looking for answers.
The strategy considers how the current situation has been reached, and how the situation can be remedied. It sets out clear objectives, and steps are taken proactively to achieve them. A timetable is determined, and the measures required to achieve the objectives are considered at a practical level. How the impact of the measures will be assessed, and under whose responsibility they are, is also determined.
|Problem-centric approach – what are the problems in the workplace, and how can they be solved?|
|Development-focused approach – how can we already consider diverse people in advance?|
|Measures and policies are written down.|
|A responsible person (one or more) is appointed for each measure.|
|It is mentioned that it applies to all activities, even coffee breaks.|
|Diversity issues are incorporated into orientation.|
|The matter is included as part of personnel appraisals.|
|It is regularly reviewed with everyone.|
|Principles for a safer space|
|Diversity and unconscious bias workshops and training|
After the strategy, it is time to act. Concrete actions are always workplace specific. These could be diversity and inclusion training, new practices and other necessary policies, with a clear aim of moving towards the stated objective.
The implementation of the strategy will be monitored by reviewing the determined impact assessment methods to which the responsible persons have been assigned in the strategy. Various surveys, interviews and other feedback mechanisms are good tools.
How implementation is monitored, and at what intervals (e.g. every 3 months, 6 months), must be recorded in the strategy. If necessary, corrective actions are already carried out along the way – there is no reason to wait for the whole plan to be updated.
Return to square one
Equality is never complete. We can always do better. Make the strategy temporary (e.g. annual) and return to the beginning to analyse the current situation. Based on the new goals, consider what kind of change you have made, and how the strategy should be changed.
The non-discrimination plan has been made mandatory in the Non-Discrimination Act for companies with at least 30 employees.
We encourage companies of all sizes to make a plan and return to the planning process annually. During the evaluation phase, many insights may emerge that would otherwise not have been thought of at all.
To have a lasting impact, it is essential that the change to a more inclusive culture takes place at the same time in individuals and in the company’s structures.
The distribution of the company’s strategies, policies, structures and power must be examined at the same time as change at the individual level.
- Jasmin Assulin, deidei Oy
- Anja Lahermaa, STTK ry
- Andersen, Heidi R. 2021. Diversity intelligence: How to Create a Culture of Inclusion for Your Business. Chichester: Wiley.