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Six Misconceptions About Diversity In The Workplace

Broaching the conversation of diversity and inclusion in the workplace can often be a topic avoided and feared as too taboo to mention. Often people worry they’ll get things wrong and use the incorrect terminology but sometimes the phrasings can appear to be overly complex. This can alienate employees more and leave them with misconceptions of what diversity in the workplace means.

But how do we combat this and why does it matter?

Many of us will have encountered these concepts in workplaces, through training and even online but for any real progress to be made, and for real diversity and inclusion to be achieved, getting to grips with what they actually mean is imperative. 

So, to help we have six of the most embattled concepts, what they mean and how you can implement and appreciate them without it being tokenism or an afterthought.

  1. Class discrimination

Unpaid internships, reaching that higher managerial and professional positions and average salaries once there are all difficulties and exclusions working-class people face in UK society. But where does this misunderstanding and misconception stem from?

Often it’s not the definition of the concept, but rather the legality of the discrimination.

Many might find themselves surprised to know that social class is not protected in the Equality Act 2010, the piece of UK legislation that outlaws discrimination in the workplace. Despite being something covered by over half of all European countries the UK can still look to validify its importance.

Through anonymous hiring processes, ditching education and experience requirements, using predictive and skill-based assessments and tracking and reporting on diversity data. All of which can help to ensure fairer recruitment practices as we work towards smashing the class-ceiling holding potential candidates back.

  1. Allyship 

Allyship is more than flag waving at the coinciding month. It’s an action that requires just that; action. 

It means continually educating yourself and others through effective activism, consistent advocacy and using whatever scale of platform or privilege you possess to incite change and act as a voice for the marginalised. 

It shouldn’t feel like performative allyship. 

If your company schedules last-minute posts when it’s topical and not because they are important to you, your employees and business values, you can run the risk of seeming disingenuous and superficial. If it’s benefiting you more than the group suffering the discrimination it’s time to start rethinking why these posts, changed banners and more are being implemented.

  1. Gender pay gap

The gender pay gap differs from ‘Equal Pay’, the legal requirement ensuring both men and women are paid equally, and instead shows the difference in average hourly earnings between all men and women in a specific company, sector or country.

Whether it’s just old-fashioned discrimination or differences in what economists call human capital (the economic value of an employee’s education, training, experience, skills, health and other traits) it’s a prevalent issue. Countless women have experienced gendered expectations that have seriously impacted their job prospects and career progressions. 

But it’s important to note the other pay gaps that can occur, including race, sexual orientation and disability and the importance of bridging these gaps in the hopes of creating a fairer and more positive workplace environment.

  1. Intersectionality

More often than not the term intersectionality can be vilified and overcomplicated. When in actuality it’s quite straightforward. We need to think of intersectionality as something that can apply to everyone, we all have multiple intersecting identities. Whether that’s age, class, gender, sexuality, race or so on. These can all lead to specific outcomes, particularly in relation to discrimination or privilege.

It’s more about the acknowledgement that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression and we must consider everything and anything that can marginalise people to ensure we progress and move forward.

  1. Privilege

When it comes to privilege it’s important to understand that it doesn’t exclusively refer to what you have gone through but rather what you haven’t had to go through. 

Instead, it designates the advantages, and/or lack of disadvantages, that any one person might have because of who they are.

It’s a privilege to not have to think about the disadvantages or advantages faced, which is why it’s all the more important to recognise those that haven’t had that luxury. Especially in the workplace.

  1. Pronouns

Gender identity and gender presentation aren’t always synonymous, which is why including pronouns in email signatures or when introducing ourselves can prove hugely beneficial. It helps to ensure we don’t assume we know what someone’s gender identity is and we don’t misgender. Plus sharing your pronouns if you are cisgender (meaning you’re not trans) is easy and can signal solidarity with trans and non-binary people. Something we should all be championing and striving to do more of.

Continued misgendering could be considered a discriminatory act and can cause undue stress that a trans person can experience as a minority. Of course, genuine mistakes, apologising and correcting yourself is a natural part of the process.

This is what it’s all about, continually learning and better educating ourselves to ensure we have fairer practices and strategies in place. To ensure workplaces are genuinely diverse and encouraging places to be part of.

Kat de Sousa

Kat de Sousa

Social Media Content Writer, avid crisp eater and Kate Bush enthusiast.
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