Who is Responsible for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?

Who is tasked with ensuring that a business is diverse and inclusive? The most obvious answer could be that it is the CEO’s responsibility since it is they are setting the example. If we do accept this argument, what can a CEO do to bring about a diverse and inclusive work environment? A CEO sets the standard and agenda of what the company line must be, “By taking a personal ownership of the agenda, the message is sent to leadership that diversity and inclusion is an organisational requirement.”(Morris, 2020). It is the responsibility of the CEO to create a trickle- down effect in their business where if the CEO champions diversity and Inclusion, it will be passed down to management and to all levels of the business.

In addition a CEO acts as the face of business once they are in the top ranking position. This means that the CEO is the image the public sees of the business. So when the CEO/Public face of the business promotes diversity and inclusion it signals to the world that that the business is committed to diversity. This in turn benefits the business as according to a McKinsey study “companies with diverse executive boards have a 95% higher return on equity than do those with homogeneous boards” (Wonolo, 2018). By the CEO openly securing diversity and inclusion it not only benefits their business but it also it falls on the CEO to take ownership and accountability of what their business stands for.

However, as well as it being the CEO’s responsibility, it is also management’s duty to promote inclusion and diversity. It is widely known that it is management’s role to carry out either the CEO’s or board of directors’ vision. This makes management an intermediary between employees and employers. With the Human Resources department being a part of management this usually means it is up to management to not only resolve any discriminatory incidents that occur, but also to organise any diversity and inclusion training and workshops. So apart from introducing various diversity and inclusion trainings, that includes initial racial training and continuing racial training, what else can management do cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

As management is directly responsible for a team it is highly important that within that team they can nurture diversity to increase productivity:“Empower them [Management] with the skills necessary to grow and nurture a diverse team…assess reporting structures and employee feedback mechanisms to ensure there is a clear, communication channel between managers and their direct repartees ”(Grossmann, 2020). By keeping a clear stream of communication and accountability, management can stay engaged with their team and construct initiatives and policies that are both zero tolerant towards any forms of discrimination but also teach how everyone within the company can individually uphold inclusive perspectives.

Although you may feel you do not hold a lot of power as an employee, you can bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace also. It is important not to undervalue the significance you hold in a business as you are the backbone of the business that allows it to function. Even during the interview process you have the power to ask about diversity and inclusion policies and practices during the Q&A part of the interview. While you are a part of a company you are particularly important for embedding your inclusion strategy: “The colleague to colleague relationship is very powerful for inclusion. If you focus on establishing meaningful relationships through initiatives such as team lunches, team-building days and diversity networks, they are much more likely to call out another employee who is displaying unacceptable behaviours or notice any concerning behavioral changes in others who may be struggling”(Boughey, 2019).

Your interpersonal relationships have a deep impact on your colleagues. Furthermore employees have the power to report any inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour you witness.

Overall it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure diversity and inclusion is upheld in the workplace.


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