From Tokenism into a Profoundly Profitable Investment – How CPD elevates Voice and Inclusion

Nov 22, 2023

Employee Voice and Inclusion: Tokenism or a Profoundly Profitable Investment for Organisations?

In the world of people practice employee voice and inclusion are on-trend; often used interchangeably, and as Busec Nova Fathom suggests, regularly misunderstood.

While good people across the People Practice sector share common objectives of creating harmonious and thriving workplaces; many find it hard to explain the distinction.

‘Voice’ and ‘Inclusion’ are distinct, separate concepts. And for professionals tasked to ensure investment in time and money to feed activities that create opportunities for both the ability to winningly explain the difference, is a critical skill to develop.

Consistent resourcing for Learning and Development and Organisational Design is essential, if we are to deliver the truly robust, equitable, and dynamic organisations that we all hope for.

Without financial commitment from the board, proclamations of organisational commitment to voice and inclusion, fall like so many empty words on a mounting refuse-tip of tokenism. Meanwhile, good working people are left to push on through their working days, still unable to see how their ‘voice’ has made a difference to their organisation’s practice, up against glass ceilings, earning salaries that make the last week of every month, a low-rations one.

For students, a focus on employee voice is an interest in the active means by which a workforce can have a genuine say in company policy, practice, and culture. It requires organisations to encourage open dialogue and feedback to foster an environment where employees feel heard and valued.

Inclusion, on the other hand, is a far broader, far more complex concept. Inclusion is about creating work environments where everyone feels a sense of belonging, regardless of their background, identity, or perspective. More than this; the person who feels included, needs then to know and see where, and how, regardless of their reality or background, they can become an integral part of an organisation’s fabric. 

And here’s the rub.

While inclusivity is a laudable goal, what happens when it doesn’t align with performance and the achievement of targets? What happens when lower levels of achievement become evident and the GDP per person falls?

Creating an inclusive workplace is not just about meeting diversity quotas or embracing tokenism; it’s about harnessing unique talents, perspectives, and experiences of a diverse workforce to drive innovation and success.

The spirit of inclusion may well lead to increased employee engagement,
reduced turnover, and a more innovative and creative workforce, however, for many organisations it can also run counter to achieving peak performance, inadvertently creating cultures based on lower performance standards where accountability and rigour take a backseat in the name of fairness and equality.

Putting money where our mouths are:

While events in the Middle East continue unabated – a voice-less scream for global inclusivity of epic proportions and the ‘R’ word now in full swing across Britain, it is a wise organisation that keeps a weather eye on performance as we enter yet another cycle of global economic uncertainty.

Ultimately, it falls to HR, L&D and People practitioners to champion inclusion in workplaces. Inclusivity does not need to lead to compromising on performance. Moreover, broadening the talent pool at a time of global talent shortage has the double benefit of affording every individual the opportunity to flourish and contribute, while shoring up a business’s ability to deliver. As organizations begin to appreciate the substantial financial gains associated with fostering diversity and inclusion, we might expect to see a cultural shift toward greater equity and social responsibility across industries, proving that, in the modern business world, inclusivity isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do.

In our next blog, we’ll look at what organizations say about driving inclusivity through their businesses against their results, and we much look forward to being able to publish your voice too.

Time for a bit of Busec Nova Fun. Take part in our Busec Nova Voice Competition and Earn a small reward in the process, while also planning content for your assignment!

We are launching our own ‘Inclusivity’ Campaign. We invite readers to respond to our blog with positive examples of inclusive activities taking place in your own organisation, or activities you think could be initiated, using the form provided.

Everyone is welcome to join in, and for new or existing CIPD students, this activity will help you complete assignments for:

  • 7CO01 Work and working lives in a changing business environment
  • 7HR03 Strategic reward management
  • 7OS06 Well-being at work
  • 7OS04 Advanced diversity and inclusion
  • 5CO03 Professional behaviours and valuing people
  • 5HR02 Talent management and workforce planning
  • 5OS05 Diversity and inclusion
  • 3CO01 Business, culture and change in context
  • 3CO03 Core behaviours for people professionals

You can download your unit overviews here:

An award of a £15 gift token will be made for every example submitted*.

*Terms and conditions apply.