Embracing diversity

embracing diversity in dentistryCODE explains how principals can help create a culture of diversity, equality and inclusion within dental practices.

As businesses, we should all work to create a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion. Something that we all know is a hot topic across every media channel at the moment. The Black Lives Matter movement is causing many of us to sit up and really look at our behaviours, both personally and professionally.

As a dental practice owner, do you work to create a culture of diversity, equality and inclusion? This doesn’t just relate to race, but also gender, sexuality, age, religious beliefs and any other factors that may make a person different to yourself. You should actively work towards creating a culture that provides opportunities for all; and understanding the benefits that this provides for everyone.

By encouraging a more diverse workforce, you will lead the way in creating role models for younger generations to look up to, allowing them to believe there is scope to fulfil their aspirations, too. You will become a leading light in your community, paving the way for other businesses to, hopefully, follow suit. And of course, your own business will thrive as a result. An inclusive workforce will bring a wealth of new and interesting ideas, attract a variety of loyal staff who reflect your customer base, and encourage enhanced business success.

What does it mean?

First and foremost it’s about understanding what equality, diversity and inclusion really mean. Equality of opportunity means that everyone should have an equal chance at the opportunities that present themselves. Regardless of their age, gender, race, sexuality, etc.

Diversity is about valuing difference and showing dignity and respect for every member of your workforce. Everyone has something about them that is different. From eye colour to skin colour, political or religious beliefs, their family situation, and everything in between. Diversity is about recognising our differences and encouraging it within the workforce as a means of inciting a more varied input.

Inclusion is about valuing these differences and ensuring that no one is made to feel that they have to conform to something.

Why does it matter?

We know that the gender pay gap is still a real problem. And we know that black and other ethnic minorities are offered fewer training and employment opportunities than their white counterparts. We also know that this is not ok.

The first step is to accept that this is currently happening and work to make a change. Starting with your own business. As a worldwide community we have mountain to climb to create true equality. But it all starts with small steps on a local level, and that’s you.

What can you do?

All employers have a legal duty to ensure that their employees are treated equally, fairly and are not discriminated against. You should have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure that this is the case, but that isn’t enough. To really create a culture of equality you must lead by example. The benefits of diversity cannot be fully achieved without first creating an inclusive environment. And that’s everybody’s responsibility, but mainly yours as the business owner.

You won’t benefit from a diverse mix of opinions and ideas if you stifle everyone or make people feel as though they aren’t heard. Instead, encourage your employees to be themselves at work and celebrate difference and individuality. This will build a team that wants to work together to drive your business forward, encourage staff loyalty, and attract excellent candidates who want to work with you.

How can we help?

It can be difficult for any employer to fully understand the complexity of the Equality Act 2010, and how you can create the foundations for a diverse workplace. With our HR team on hand you’ll benefit from the expert advice and guidance as well as policies, procedures and strategies to navigate the equality legislation and put you and everyone else on an equal footing.

At CODE we are here for you right now and are working hard to continue to support you. Our support lines have been extremely busy recently. The CODE teams are providing daily news and external updates, which you can read on our website at www.codeuk.com. Our COVID-19 support page also features free documents and guidance.

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