An introduction to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for businesses

Tools & Resources

An introduction to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for businesses

Key learnings

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a collection of terms used to describe fair treatment and equal opportunities, engaging with individuals from a variety of backgrounds who have diverse experiences and perspectives, and creating an environment where everyone feels valued, respected and heard.
  • You should consider EDI when thinking about all your main stakeholder groups and in any area of your business that involves people including recruitment and HR, marketing and operations.
  • You should always comply with the Equality Act 2010 and get support from specialists on anything you’re unsure about – for example you can contact Croner’s helpline for employment advice and the ASA for advertising.

With rapidly evolving social attitudes, terms and legislation, keeping up to date with what you should be doing to keep all your stakeholders feeling safe, respected and included is a challenge every business faces. In this article, we introduce some key terms, highlight the areas of your business that are influenced, and outline some areas to think about when developing or improving your equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) practices.

Click the headings to read the section.


What does equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) mean?

Equality refers to treating everyone fairly and providing equal opportunities regardless of their background, characteristics, or circumstances.

Diversity encompasses the variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that individuals have and can draw on.

Inclusion goes beyond representation to create an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and heard.


Which areas of my business does EDI influence?

EDI will influence all areas of your business, including people management, operations and marketing.

To fully embed EDI in your organisation’s policies, practices and culture, you should include all your main stakeholder groups. These may include employees, customers/clients, beneficiaries/service users, shareholders/funders, and suppliers.

It’s also helpful to think about their journey with you, from awareness and engagement until they move on or disengage.


How could improving EDI benefit my business and its stakeholders?

There are many reasons to embrace EDI in your business.

Some key benefits include:

  • Having a diverse team fosters creativity, innovation, and better decision-making, which can lead to new ideas and less wasted resources.
  • When employees feel included and appreciated, they are more likely to stay with you, reducing staff turnover.
  • Employees who feel safe and comfortable will be more engaged and productive, looking after your customers well and boosting profitability.
  • Being inclusive across your organisation’s operations contributes to a positive brand reputation, which will encourage diverse stakeholders to engage with you.

What are the main things I should think about when developing EDI policies and practices?

The Equality Act 2010 sets out how businesses in the UK should and should not treat individuals to ensure they are protected against discrimination. You will need to comply with these laws.

It is not a legal requirement to have a written EDI policy, but it is strongly recommended that you do. Having a policy means that people in your business will be clear on how they should and should not act, how they can raise concerns and how these will be dealt with.

EDI policies are also becoming a more common requirement in tender processes, as businesses assume more responsibility for their supply chain’s practices.

So, creating an EDI policy can be useful to ensure you are complying with legislation and help put you in a strong position to win work.

In your EDI policies and practices, strive for:

  • Equal pay, fair recruitment practices, and unbiased promotions. This ensures that all employees have an equal chance to succeed.
  • Equal representation in your marketing materials, avoiding stereotypes.
  • Attracting diverse stakeholders by actively marketing opportunities – for example jobs, supplier tenders, requests for involvement and feedback – through a wide range of channels.
  • Featuring diverse models, stories and spokespersons in marketing and communications of all kinds – including recruitment, supply chain development and customer engagement.
  • Creating relevant processes for how employees can engage in discussion about any concerns and how these will be addressed.
  • Developing a culture of open communication with all your stakeholders, so you can listen and respond to feedback and requests for change.
  • Flexibility in your working practices, so you can adapt to specific requests where possible, for example for flexible working or a particular communication format.
  • Encouraging the celebration of significant cultural events and holidays.

UMi partner Croner has lots of information and free downloads available to all businesses, including an EDI policy template.


What are some other terms associated with EDI?

There are a lot of terms that you will come across when discussing EDI and developing your policies and practices.

Here are some common terms associated with EDI:

  • Accessibility: Ensuring that physical spaces, digital content, and communication are accessible to all, including people with disabilities.
  • Affinity Groups or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Voluntary groups formed by employees with shared characteristics or interests; ERGs provide support, networking, and advocacy within the organisation.
  • Allyship: Supporting and advocating for marginalised groups, even if you don’t belong to those groups.
  • Cultural Competence: Understanding and respecting cultural differences.
  • Intersectionality: Recognises that individuals have multiple identities (eg race, gender, disability) that intersect and impact their experiences.
  • Microaggressions: Subtle, often unintentional acts that demean or marginalise individuals based on their identity.
  • Unconscious Bias: Biases that affect our decisions and actions without us being aware of them.

Where can I get more support with EDI for my business?

EDI is a complex and rapidly developing topic that is highly contextual. It can sometimes feel overwhelming, and you might worry about getting things wrong.

UMi Sat Nav users can speak with our partner Croner’s experts 24/7 to get advice on EDI relating to recruitment and employment, as well as other HR and health and safety topics. Their experts are available to answer questions and if you need more support, you can benefit from a 15% discount on Croner’s services.

There’s a wealth of advice on complying with advertising regulations on the ASA website, where you can also access the free Bespoke Copy Advice service to check for any potential issues in concepts and copy early in your process, before you commit too much resource to them.

Read some insights on tackling your fear of saying the wrong thing from First Bus’s Head of EDI and Wellbeing, Gareth Hind.

Next steps…