“A rising tide lifts all boats” — an apt phrase when we think about more equitable design.
When we design for inclusivity, everybody benefits. In 2021, companies saw record numbers of resignations attributed to employees demanding better workplace conditions and equitable work-life balance policies. Global studies show that employees in diverse and inclusive workplaces are more likely to enjoy their jobs, work harder, innovate more and ultimately stay with their employers longer. Diverse organizations have also been found to be nearly a third more productive and 21 percent more profitable than their peers.
Now more than ever, society and businesses around the world are looking for a tangible path forward and evidence-backed tools. This is not only about making DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) commitments, but also act on these commitments in ways that create places where everyone feels welcome, seen and heard.
Two years in the making, hundreds of conversations, so many roundtables and events, and listening and learning throughout, has led IWBI to the launch of a tool designed to make a difference–for anyone and everyone.
The WELL Equity Rating is designed to help organisations act on their diversity, equity and inclusion goals and improve company culture and employee health.
It gives organisations an actionable framework to improve access to health and well-being, celebrate diversity, prioritise inclusivity and promote sensitivity while addressing disparities in populations that have been traditionally marginalised and underrepresented.
An extraordinary amount of mindshare went into the creation of this rating. IWBI convened its Health Equity Advisory, engaging with and learning from more than 200 expert advisors from 26 countries. A prestigious group of more than 40 co-chairs led the advisory, lending their expertise in health equity, diversity and inclusion, community building, inclusive design and stakeholder engagement–including three co-chairs from Australia who have helped pilot what are equity interventions for organizations:
- Professor Clare Newton
- Luke Briscoe, Indigenous leader and Kuku-Yalanji man
- Sheila Nguyen, Sports Environment Alliance, (now Head of Sustainability at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023)
In Australia, we’ve been leading some conversations relating to health equity, while recognising areas we can improve. It is a great source of pride for me personally–and for the IWBI APAC team–that the Support for Victims of Domestic Violence feature originated in Australia. It came out of a government project, whose team members advocated that domestic violence is a public health emergency, as well as a workplace issue.
We agreed. It’s now part of the Standard and one of over 40 interventions available as part of the WELL Equity Rating.
Beyond this, WELL features address topics such as housing equity, modern slavery and responsible labour practices, a direct result of leadership collaboration from our local team and community that is reflected in this rating. One of our dear friends, Community Concept Advisor and former CEO of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, Robin Mellon, was critical in informing the development of features related to responsible labour practices.
Internationally, we have been working on a new feature in WELL called Historical Acknowledgment– a new beta strategy in the latest version of the WELL Standard. This WELL feature requires projects to develop a comprehensive program that acknowledges the history of colonisation, displacement and relocation and/or the significant contributions that Indigenous, enslaved and migrant peoples have made to a particular place. This is particularly significant as society looks to make amends in the present for faults of the past. A significant part of this process included engaging with regional teams and external stakeholders who have professional and lived experience in this area. We were able to obtain feedback that created a more robust, inclusive and action-focused feature.
But we also know that we can and must do more. In acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we work, live, and play, we also acknowledge the health gap that exists. A greater focus on equity is needed to address these disparities.
IWBI recognises that the WELL Equity Rating is not a solution for all inequities the world faces. It is, however, a starting point for progress.
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