June 6, 2022

Why Workplaces Need to be Inclusive, Not Just Diverse

If you’re a person of colour - and are anything like me - D&I is usually one of the first things you look out for before joining a new company. In the past, I’ve spent hours looking through a business’s career and LinkedIn pages trying to suss out how many people like me work there (at all levels).

Nowadays though, D&I has become a bit of a buzzword. Thrown around in quarterly meetings with the promise of improvement. A lot of the time, however, I think much more attention is given to diversity than inclusivity.

I joined my current company Bloom & Wild, in October 2020 as a copywriter on the Brand team. We’re essentially the face of the company. Anything that our customers see - from the images of our gifts to our email newsletters and social media posts - we’re in charge of. In my interview, I mentioned that I was impressed with their response to the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. It meant a lot that speaking up wasn’t seen as “too political” for them - and it made me want to work there even more. Especially knowing that the team I’d be joining was directly responsible for these posts.

Since joining, I’ve seen so many changes accepted with ease, where other companies may have been hesitant. Things as simple as using models from all ages and backgrounds on shoots. And making sure that we give our bouquets ethnic names too, not just European ones. Little things that may not seem like much but mean a lot to both our colleagues and customers alike. I don’t think I’ll ever stop getting excited when a customer emails us, buzzing because they never find anything with their name on it - but now they have. One thing I was worried about after the hype of last summer was that companies would slowly go back to how they were, despite all the promises made. That Black Lives Matter would be seen as a moment, not a movement. And apparently, I’m not alone. A survey by Black Tech Fest has found that 38% of people think their employer or place of study’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests last year was tokenistic.

I’m really lucky to say that’s not been my experience. Even though we’re all mostly working remotely, I can see the company becoming a more diverse place. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like there’s still a way to go. But we’ve definitely been making progress - from the number of female representation in our Tech team going up to 36% (compared to 19% the prior year), to the hires of POC going up by 74% in the space of a year. Now, this all sounds great in terms of diversity, but what about inclusion? If you couldn’t already tell by the title, I actually think being inclusive is the most important thing. Because it’s all well and good getting diverse hires, but what are you doing to make them feel like they belong?

One thing everyone told me when I joined Bloom & Wild was how nice the people are. It’s safe to say that I was slightly sceptical. Surely not everyone can be nice? But what I’ve found is that there’s a real sense of community here. One that’s genuinely accepting of everyone, regardless of your race, gender, religion or lifestyle.

We recognise and celebrate special occasions across all religions and cultures. Awareness days are used as an opportunity to speak candidly about hard-hitting topics. We have a channel on Slack called ‘Allies’ which is a space for discussion, celebration and support. And most of all, I feel empowered to speak up about things I think we could be doing better. Recently, some of my colleagues and I created a ‘Champions’ group. We saw that there was an opportunity to really spearhead inclusivity from an employee perspective. Having been part of a BAME committee in a previous job, I jumped at the chance.

Since the group was created, we’ve had discussions with our Senior Leadership team on what else we can do to create a culture of inclusion. And as I write this, we’re planning what activities to do for Black History Month and World Mental Health Day in October. On the Brand team, we’ve made sure that we’re highlighting all major holidays this season, not just Christmas. Occasions like Advent, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Diwali. With all these experiences, it feels weird to think that in my first job out of university, diversity was all I cared about. I thought that if I was around enough people who were like me, I would feel included. Now I know it takes much more than that to feel a sense of belonging. And I won’t ever accept any less.

Written by Natalie Brown - Junior Copywriter at Bloom & Wild