Sustainability is generally attributed to climate change but it goes far deeper than that, sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being, a quote from Santander Scholarship.
During a recent lunch I had with Natasha Stromberg and Jacquline Hinds, we discussed sustainability and role of sustainability in the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I )space. I have been working in the ED&I space for quite some time, this is the first time that ED&I and sustainability have been linked. It got me thinking about how this connection exits. Looking at the definition above it became clear to me that sustainability should be intrinsic to the ED&I space and that the word sustainability should be used more regularly.
I have had a few meeting recently were I have discussed the need for organisations to stop thinking about ED&I as a departmental issue but they should be thinking about it as a company wide issue. Any ED&I strategy should be implemented right through the organisation not just within one or two departments. It is clear, that sustainability should be what all organisations should strive for by addressing the social well-being and the economic growth and environment care of their employees. Economic growth might seem strange to some, but if you think about gender pay and ethnicity pay gaps, lack of promotion opportunities and disability pay gap these areas stop employees from their earning potential.
Organisations strive to have a sustainable balance sheet that will enable them to grown and develop, the same enthusiasm and desire should be maintained for their employees. Sustainable growth depends on employees, if the working environment is volatile and, if it allows negative practices to exist there can be no surprise when employees leave an organisation. Neither should it be surprising if the organisations reputation is damaged thus giving their competitors an advantage.
It is time for tick box ED&I strategies to end, embed and transform your organisation to create a better working environment for your employees. Make your well-being practices inclusive, as people experience things differently, correct any pay gaps in your organisation, stamp out negative behaviour and hold people to account that includes your senior executives.
Let’s start talking about sustainability, sustaining the positive practices and principles of creating a working environment for everyone to feel valued and respected. Equality for all, Respect for all and valuing the diversity of all the people that work within your organisation. No-one should feel that they are being mistreated, undervalued, disrespected at work. If your organisation is allowing this to happen you might want to think about your options. If you are the leader of that organisation, someone needs to hold you to account.
We can all move closer to a sustainable future if we all work towards inclusion for all not just for some. Be holistic in your approach and don’t be afraid to hold yourselves to account to ensure that the changes you make are beneficial for everyone.