Dear Diversity, Equality and Inclusion specialists: an open letter

Dear Diversity, Equality and Inclusion specialists,

We understand some of you might be in brand new roles created within your company to tackle issues of diversity and inclusion, and workplace culture. And some of you are in companies that have been ahead of the curve or trying to make a difference for a while. Some of you may be the only one, or one of very few diversity and inclusion specialists there, while a rare few of you may be part of a bigger team. You might also work within or adjacently with your company’s HR team. But one thing we know for sure is the work of people who are in diversity and inclusion roles never ends.

Through our own research we have found that:

  • 2 in 5 employees have experienced problematic behaviour at work.
  • 41% say bad workplace culture has impacted their productivity.
  • 42% have previously left a job due to bad workplace culture.
  • Two thirds confirmed that experiencing problematic behaviour at work impacted their confidence and ability to find a new job.
  • And 67% of people have suffered from anxiety as a direct result of workplace bullying.

These upsetting statistics probably sound familiar to you. You may have sadly experienced or witnessed problematic behaviour in previous jobs that, like many of us at Culture Shift, drove your desire to make a change in the future and to make sure it never happens to others.

You are likely well aware of the news stories that report on toxic workplace cultures in big businesses such as BrewDog, Tesla and Rio Tinto, as well as the Cabinet Office, NHS and the Met Police. And you are constantly hearing about cases of bullying, harassment and discrimination against people - especially those with protected charasteristics. And this is happening across all industries, from finance to legal, from retail to insurance, and from within the government to private and public healthcare services.

We know many people speak out about their experiences after they have left a job. And we know many people who are brave enough to confide in someone in or out of work still do not report the incidents to their workplace. More often than not these people will be asked “why don’t you report it?” or “why didn’t you say something before instead of just leaving?”

We know there are a multitude of reasons why people don’t report what’s happened to them - or someone else. Their workplace culture has made them feel like they can’t speak up. Or they fear the colleague who instigated the incident will continue the behaviour. Sometimes, even their lack of trust in HR and their employer can be a barrier to reporting.

But on a different note, research has shown that organisations with inclusive cultures are eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes and employees who do not believe their workplace is committed to diversity and inclusion are three times more likely to leave than those who do. This shows why people like yourselves are so integral to the improvement and change of your organisations.

So how can we prevent these statistics from increasing and being the norm in too many organisations? We know employee satisfaction surveys and training sessions on anti-bullying and diversity and inclusion are steps in the right direction. But they’re not enough. They don’t always make more people speak up and report situations.

According to our study, 62% of people we asked said they would be much more likely to report an instance of bullying or harassment at their workplace if they had an anonymous reporting platform to do so. And we know this works. Many of our 80-plus partners have called the implementation and rollout of our system a success that is well-received by their students and employees. And over the years many have told us of the rise in named reports over anonymous ones, showing an increase in people’s confidence and trust in their employer and those who are responsible for collating and dealing with the reports.

Imagine a workplace that is safe, happy and supportive for everyone, everywhere. A place where people feel free and confident enough to speak up and speak out against workplace misconduct of any kind. A place where people of any gender, LGBTQ+ people, people from ethnic minorities, of different faiths, and with different abilities are able to be themselves without fear of being bullied, discriminated against, harassed or judged. A place where employees enjoy working and are proud to work at because of its diverse, inclusive and problem-free culture.

That is what we want. And we’re sure you do too.

Along with educating workforces, revising policies, having staff networks and working together with other employees to find out what they want and the issues they feel need to be addressed, our Report + Support system can help. It can help to reduce staff turnover, tribunal cases, as well as absenteeism and presenteeism, while improving productivity, employee-employer trust, mental wellbeing and workplace culture.

Together we can help your company do all of the above to achieve our visions. To find out more and to speak to one of our dedicated and specialist team members on how we can work together, contact us here and we look forward to speaking with you.

From the Culture Shift team.

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