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5 Steps SMEs Can Take to be Inclusive Employers

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for about 90% of all companies worldwide.

According to the FSB, SMEs account for three-fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector.

That’s why building an inclusive environment by SMEs has a massive impact on the future of work.

Try to understand what your employees think about inclusivity within your organisation. There are a few ways of collecting this feedback: surveys, focus groups, and interviews. This information helps test your current practices. And to understand what possible direction you need to take.

There might be various areas of development: developing an inclusive culture, establishing a diversity and inclusion strategy, building strong learning systems on inclusion, revisiting policies, or updating your recruitment processes to attract diverse talents.

These 5 steps SMEs can take to become an inclusive place to work:

 1.      Build inclusive culture.

It can take some time to build an inclusive culture. Your intention to nurture this culture will set up the tone within your organisation. It will prove to your teams and customers that you care about them.

Be very specific in asking questions about inclusivity. Try to collect data from diverse groups of respondents. Even if you get some unexpected feedback, this can be the first step in developing an inclusive culture.

Communication is one of the key elements of this journey, both internal and external. Share your findings from surveys and positive actions. The more you share, the more people see your commitment. Newsletters, email communications, or town halls – the more tools you use, the better. It should reach various diverse groups, and be accessible. You can start by learning what are the protected characteristics.

Management is the first respondent in organisations with any change. And their role and trust are significant. Inclusive management will support this culture and cultivate a great working environment. Read about tips to become an inclusive leader here. And about respecting cultural differences here.


2.      Establish a diversity and inclusion strategy.

When you have all the data and analysis, you can start thinking about your D&I strategy. Whatever organisational goals you have, review them through the prism of inclusivity. Don’t forget, your customers, employees, and communities you work with, might be very diverse. If you want to be a great provider, partner, or employer – diversity and inclusion is the key part of your work.

Set smart goals of what you want to achieve long and short-term, with clear KPIs, action plans and responsibilities. How will you understand that you achieved your goals? What can make your customers, candidates, or employees’ journey inclusive?

Lead by example: communicate the importance of inclusion strategy and change. Both internally and externally and share key updates. Some examples can include:

  • What are the numbers of hiring after positive actions had been taken?

  • What is the employees’ satisfaction rate in inclusion?

Having a diversity & inclusion strategy in place helps organisations serve their customers, communities, and teams better.


3.      Develop diversity and inclusion learning opportunities.

Start from your diversity and inclusion strategy: what skills does your team need to achieve their goals? It might be knowledge of legal requirements, or an understanding of unconscious bias, and discrimination. Let's not forget about leadership skills (attracting diverse talents, emotional intelligence, for example).

Analyse skills gaps, and list possible tools you would need: formal training, coaching, or mentoring. A strong L&D offer is a mix of development tools, including virtual, face-to-face or on-the-job activities.

It’s a good practice to check ROI (return on investment) and employees’ satisfaction. After you introduce and put in place your development plan. Does it help your team build their skills? You can always ask them.

If you don’t have your dedicated L&D team or a professional yet, read this blog about organising your own learning & development department here.


4.      Install an inclusive recruitment process.

To create an inclusive workplace, start by analysing your hiring demographics. How many people of certain categories you’ve hired, and how many of them left? How many of them never applied and many other angles? If your sector struggles to attract certain groups, try to understand what is the main barrier. Be creative in your strategy.

Ensure your job descriptions are inclusive. Avoid language that may stop diverse candidates from applying. Practice blind resume screening to remove information that could lead to unconscious bias.

Train hiring managers on diversity and inclusion best practices. Promote fair evaluation of candidates. Organise diverse interview panels to provide various perspectives on candidates.

Read the blog about inclusive recruitment here.


5.      Assess Current Policies and Practices

Test your existing policies and practices to identify areas for improvement. Ensure they align with inclusive principles. Look at your employee benefits and support systems to ensure they meet the needs of your employees.

Analyse your promotion and leadership development programs. Do they guarantee equal opportunities for career growth?


How Can SMES Measure the Impact of Their Diversity and Inclusion Training?

To measure the impact of your diversity and inclusion training, there are several key strategies you can try:

  • Collect employee feedback on the training and gather their insights on its effectiveness.

  • Conduct surveys to know employees' perceptions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace before and after the training.

  • Assess changes in the workplace culture by observing interactions, communication patterns, and attitudes towards diversity.

  • Track diversity in leadership roles to see if there are any improvements in representation and inclusivity.

  • Check if the training aligns with your organization's goals and values. To ensure it contributes to your mission and objectives.


By taking these steps, you can transform your SME into an inclusive employer that values diversity and promotes equality.

Forming an inclusive culture not only benefits your employees but also contributes to a positive company culture and success.

If you need any help with inclusive practices, or training, please contact us here. WhizzMind is happy to support you to build inclusive culture, and achieve your organisational goals.


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