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 massively on-trend; frequently discussed, often used interchangeably, and, this writer suggests, regularly misunderstood.

While all good people share the common objectives of creating harmonious and thriving workplaces; few appreciate that ‘Voice’ and ‘Inclusion’ are distinct concepts, and even fewer are prepared to invest in the raft of supporting resources and consistent ‘feeding’ that are essential to build truly robust, equitable, and dynamic organisations that we all hope for.

In such circumstances, fervid proclamations of organisational commitment to voice and inclusion, fall like so many hollow words on a mounting refuse-tip of tokenism, while ordinary 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, still finding themselves up against glass ceilings, earning salaries that make the last week of every month, a low-rations one.

For the students amongst us, 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. It’s about creating work environments where everyone feels a sense of belonging, regardless of their background, identity, or perspective. But more than this, inclusion is about ensuring that every individual, regardless of their reality or background, can become an integral part of an organisation’s fabric. And there’s the rub.

While inclusivity is a laudable goal, what happens when it doesn’t align with performance, and lower levels of achievement become evident?

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

It is a wise organisation that is keeping a weather eye on performance as we enter yet another cycle of global economic maelstrom driven by events in the Middle East; a situation that arguably screams out how much more we all need to be doing to address inclusivity right now. Inclusivity does not need to lead 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. Ultimately, it falls to HR, L&D and People practitioners to champion inclusivity in workplaces. In our next blog, we’ll look at how you can tell if your organisation is genuine in its claim to be driven to ensure inclusivity.

As organizations increasingly recognize the substantial financial gains associated with fostering diversity and inclusivity, 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.

Time for a bit of Busec Nova Fun. We are launching our own ‘Inclusivity’ Campaign. Every week we will invite readers to respond to our blog with positive examples of activities taking place in your own organisation, or activities you think could be initiated, on the subject of the blog and will award a £10 gift token for the most insightful worked examples posted.