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Why We “Choose to Challenge” on International Women’s Day and How You Can Too

​In the latest of our MERJE Together series, which explores diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace, we pledge our support to International Women’s Day and the 2021 theme “Choose to Challenge”.

Choose to Challenge aims to call out gender bias and inequality to help create an inclusive world.

At MERJE, we are committed to promoting a diverse culture across our team and this ethos, in turn, filters down to our clients and candidates.

If we see these values being compromised or taken advantage of, we won’t turn a blind eye and instead tackle any underlying issues head on.

This is because we believe that a workplace which encourages equality, diversion and inclusion is ultimately more successful and better at problem-solving, while keeping employees happy, motivated and loyal.

Here are some ways to ensure that your workplace is inclusive.

Implement a workplace policy

A good workplace policy covers all elements of equality, diversity and inclusion. It might also be called an ‘equal opportunities policy’.

A policy helps everyone to know:

  • That the business supports and treats everyone fairly

  • What kind of behaviour is expected of them

  • About discrimination and the law and what is not acceptable

  • Where to find the procedures for resolving any problems

Your policy could also point employees to any extra activities or services that your workplace offers, such as staff networks or employee assistance groups or programmes.

When developing a policy, you should:

  • Consult with your employees and any representatives

  • Follow any existing consultations or arrangements with employees or their representatives

  • Create an action plan which includes what steps will be taken to make sure that the policy is put into everyday practice

The action plan should include:

  • How to get staff on board; for example, training for all staff so that they understand the policy and what needs to happen to make it work in practice

  • How to best monitor and measure if the policy and plan are working as intended and record those results

  • How to work out whether the policy is effective and what needs to change

  • Who will put the policy and plan into practice and by when

Employers, managers and employees should understand the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in all areas of work, including:

  • Recruiting new staff   

  • Training and promoting existing staff   

  • Equal pay

  • Religious beliefs and practice

  • Dress code   

  • Unacceptable behaviour

  • Staff dismissal

  • Redundancy    

  • Different types of leave for parents   

  • Flexible working

Offer clear communication

Employees are more likely to get on-board with your organisation’s strategic goals if they feel they are included in the decision making process and that this is clearly communicated. Try to ensure that they:

  • Feel valued

  • Are clear what the organisation’s purpose and values are

  • Understand how they play a part in achieving your organisation’s goals

You could help employees feel included in your organisation by:

  • Talking openly with them

  • Providing regular updates about how the business is progressing

  • Being clear about any changes, decisions or plans

You could also hold open meetings, where employees can talk with senior managers, giving them the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns.

Provide strong leadership

You and any senior managers should be role models for inclusive behaviour.

It’s good practice to:

  • Encourage everyone to have a more inclusive attitude

  • Give managers training which helps them to see the importance of their role in shaping your workplace culture

  • Have an equality, diversity and inclusion champion at senior level who can speak up for under-represented groups and flag any issues that need addressing

  • Look out for signs of discrimination, inequality and exclusion and address them as soon as possible

Promote inclusive events and activities

You could support other activities and events, aside from International Women’s Day, which encourage inclusion in the workplace, such as:

Read more about International Women's Day on their website. If you would like to discuss your equality, diversity and inclusion policy in more detail, please get in touchwith our team