Over the last few years the issue of EDI – equality. diversity and inclusion (and we can add equity in there as well) – has become an increasing priority for all businesses of all sizes.

Once seen as little more than a box ticking exercise that fell within the remit of your HR team and might have consisted of an annual diversity audit and a few policies that paid lip service to the notion that the workplace should be a level playing field for all, EDI has quickly become a top-three priority for most organisations.

It might have taken a while for the penny to finally drop, but at last it seems businesses that are serious about success have embraced the notion that their workplace must be inclusive and equitable.

That’s not just about ensuring people with protected characteristics are treated fairly. Indeed, if you still believe that’s what lies at the heart of EDI then perhaps you and your organisation haven’t progressed as far or as quickly as you might think.

Ultimately, what businesses have begun to realise is that EDI – whether done well or badly – has a critical impact on productivity and profitability.

All those letters are important, obviously, but perhaps the one that business leaders should focus on most is the ‘I’ – inclusion.

Inclusivity drives everything else. If your business is not inclusive, it can’t possibly be sustainably diverse. If it isn’t inclusive, it can’t possibly be equitable and its people can’t possibly feel they are treated with equality.

It’s why, since forever, I have talked about I&D when everyone else was talking about D&I. The fact the corporate world is catching on to the tacit hierarchy is worth all those raised eyebrows and quizzical looks.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy though.

Many businesses – even the ones that are making good progress in driving cultural change – struggle to move the needle on how their EDI policies affect the workplace.

Part of the reason for that, I think, is that the whole EDI shebang is multi-faceted and multi-layered.

It’s not enough to simply draw up a EDI policy and say, ‘That’ll do.’

It won’t. Not because I say so, or because the EDI community expects you to dig deeper. It won’t do because your EDI policy won’t work for everyone.

The biggest problem for business when it comes to inclusion is not that they don’t take it seriously or that they don’t know why it’s important.

It’s that a successful EDI strategy has so many component parts and so many fields of focus that organisations struggle to integrate everything into a coherent proposition.

And what happens is firms implement a ‘strategy’ (that is often not a strategy but an expression of a desired outcome) without understanding who it affects and how it affects them.

In the end, EDI is part education and part reassurance.

We aim to support people who are unfamiliar with the concepts of EDI or who don’t recognise how their own attitudes and behaviours (or those of others) compromise the inclusion of their colleagues.

And your inclusion strategy should also be designed to assure all your people – through meaningful, measurable and positive action and behaviour – that you are working hard to ensure everyone in the organisation feels valued and is recognised and celebrated for who they are and the contribution they make.

In short, I think a big part of what makes EDI daunting for businesses is that they bite off more than they can chew and don’t fully understand how their approach to EDI can be compartmentalised and broken down into bitesize actions.

This ‘buffet’ approach to the work also helps make it digestible for your people. No one wants to sit in a stuffy room for a whole day looking at PowerPoint presentations and hearing someone banging on and on about EDI concepts and objectives. And definitely not when this comes with a huge side-helping of moralising and preaching.

EDI needs to be accessible and engaging. People need to see the value of it in tangible benefit – to others who may be compromised by virtue of their protected characteristic(s), certainly; but also, to themselves in being part of something more unified and cohesive.

So, if you’re struggling to make sense of the EDI landscape in your own organisation, and you could use some help to create a strategy and approach that breaks everything down into something manageable and implementable and more likely to reap visible rewards, we’re here to help.