Written by terrahomme.global
Published in the workplace

d&i in sme's

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small- to medium-sized businesses (sme) sometimes simply do not have the infrastructure or need for defining and implementing an official diversity & inclusion policy. depending on the actual size of the workforce, ranging from 1 to perhaps 500, there may be no one in the business giving thought to such a policy.

the employees simply do their jobs, are often treated as 'family' and as such the topic becomes moot. is another matter altogether. depending on the size of the organisation you are working for, there should be processes and committees in place to first of all decide whether or not such a policy has any merits and secondly who will be responsible for the activities associated with having such a policy in place.

"...the employees who simply do their jobs, are often treated as 'family' and as such the topic becomes moot."

conformity to the world outside


the only problem, as i see it, arises when such a business wishes to submit a proposal for a project at a possible client, where policies pertaining to the environment, equality in the workplace (and that includes diversity & inclusion), and sometimes other official statements are required to be considered a contender meaning business.

i have worked with a number of international non-profit organisations, where these policies are to be included in a proposal, evidence provided that the internal politics of the organisation are in line with industry standards and that employees are treated fairly. in some cases large organisations, operating globally, require confirmation that no child labour is used to manufacture goods during the supply chain process, that all human rights conform to internationally accepted protocols and that proper financial ethics are adhered to.
more often than not, a diversity & inclusion policy (or statement) is essential as part of the proposal.
the question then is often asked if a diversity & inclusion policy (or any of the other required ones) are really necessary if an sme does not compete in the global market.

conformity to the world inside


in today's competitive business environment, the world outside the sme range of business activities may not play a big role to the actual world inside the organisation. one often hears "we've worked this way for years, there is no need to change our business practices now", but a workforce and thus the dynamics within an sme changes. a new employee starts at the company, delivers outstanding work, but soon realizes that company policies are limited to financially-related guidelines, procurement controls and perhaps the regularity of monthly meetings. the new employee soon discovers he is in a minority group, that exists only around the coffee machine. all employees seem to be treated the same way, there is no mention of acceptance of a person's sexual identity, religion, or perhaps disability. management does not see it as a necessity to address these issues in a 'formal' way.
so, the question then is, does the organisation have to take action and produce a policy to correct this (often) over-looked basic document? the answer is quite straightforward in my opinion. if an sme does business with a number of larger clients, acknowledging the diversity of its own workforce in a 'formal' document does no harm - on the contrary, it shows clients the sincerity of their supplier in an area that has nothing to do with its core business.

1-2-3 and you have a solution!


creating, designing and implementing a diversity & inclusion policy is as easy as 1-2-3. there are many - and i mean many - examples of what a diversity & inclusion policy should contain. it does not have to contain pages of unnecessary texts or what-ifs, it should simply include the commitment of senior management to honour the statement(s) made within. obviously such a policy (as with all policies and guidelines) needs to include a definition acceptable to management and employees, provide instructions/guidelines to address issues related to diversity & inclusion occurrences within the business and last, but least that management will 'defend' their stance to the world outside the organisation.
there are numerous benefits to having a diversity & inclusion policy in place, but we've taken the liberty of naming just six reasons why any business should consider spending time implementing such a policy.

More in this category: the cost of d&i »
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