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Inclusive Employers have developed the six pillars of inclusion as a guiding principle for workplace inclusion. This blog explains the Equip pillar and highlights best practices from Leidos UK, who made an impact with their work on D/deaf and hard of hearing inclusion.

Why is ‘Equip’ a pillar of inclusion?

‘Equip’ is one of the six pillars of inclusion because it recognises that employers have a responsibility to equip employees with knowledge and tools to build inclusion and diversity into all aspects of their work.

Within a workplace, the tools used to equip employees may include training, policies, and guidance.

The six pillars of inclusion provide the framework for measuring inclusion and diversity in the Inclusive Employers Standard (IES). The IES is Inclusive Employers’ workplace inclusion accreditation. If you want to understand how effective your inclusion work is, and what you can do to have more impact, the Inclusive Employers Standard is for you.

How is success in the Equip pillar measured?

The Inclusive Employers is an evidence-based accreditation, which means the questions aim to understand how your current policies, training, and guidance equip employees. Are they created with an inclusion lens, do they prioritise I&D, and what impact are they having on the culture in your organisation?

Read on to learn how one organisation, Leidos UK, excelled at equipping its employees, and achieved Bronze in the IES in 2022.

“There has been a clear, positive impact on staff directly but also indirectly by increasing awareness and confidence to have conversations about inclusion.”

Two South-East Asian office professionals having a chat about inclusion in the reception area of the office building.

Case study: How Leidos equipped employees to improve D/deaf and hard of hearing inclusion

One of the stand-out achievements from Leidos’s IES submission was their approach to providing evidence-based training and guidance around British Sign Language (BSL).

Improving BSL communication

Leidos responded to feedback some colleagues raised during the Covid pandemic: “they were struggling to stay connected to what was happening in the organisation as the video communications and updates provided didn’t have closed captions or transcripts. It was a relatively quick win to add captions and transcripts as standard. This opened a wider conversation about the provision for D/deaf and hard of hearing colleagues.”

Equipping employees by awareness raising and upskilling

Leidos decided to explore this topic further and provide suitable guidance training for managers and the wider workforce. How did they do this?

“Leidos collaborated with D/deaf colleagues to develop and offer BSL taster sessions. These taster sessions built awareness and helped colleagues feel more confident to begin communicating in BSL. This developed over time into offering additional BSL sessions on special topics, BSL sing-alongs, and a D/deaf awareness workshop, again co-developed and co-delivered by staff with lived experience.”

The interest in this initial work led Leidos to expand their BSL offerings for staff to include: “BSL alphabet cards, lived experience blogs and videos, and other guidance to upskill managers to better provide for D/deaf and hard of hearing colleagues.”

Impactful work leading to organisational change

This growing awareness of how to support D/deaf and hard of hearing colleagues had a positive impact: “Organisational changes were also made as a result of this growing awareness. For example, BSL was added as a ‘first language’ data response option in their HR system, and BSL interpretation was introduced as a standard for all-employee meetings. Two hearing colleagues were also funded to achieve a formal BSL qualification, further enhancing their skills and ability to communicate with people using BSL.”

Successfully equipping employees

The success of Leidos’s work has been multi-faceted: “There has been a clear, positive impact on staff directly but also indirectly by increasing awareness and confidence to have conversations about inclusion.

In addition, the BSL sessions have acted as a fun way to learn and boost wellbeing, and they’ve become something people request over and over.

There has been a clear, positive impact on staff directly but also indirectly by increasing awareness and confidence to have conversations about inclusion. In addition, the BSL sessions have acted as a fun way to learn and boost wellbeing, and they’ve become something people request over and over.”

“Inclusive Employers have helped us immensely in progressing our inclusion efforts. They have a fantastic way of helping us make sense of even the trickiest inclusion topics and questions.”

Fiona Keady, Leidos UK Talent Business Partner

A black consultant with an afro hairstyle is advising their client about inclusion. They are sitting in a well-lit office area.

How can Inclusive Employers support you to Equip your employees?

If you would like to do more to equip your employees to understand and practice inclusion, Inclusive Employers are here to support you.

The Inclusive Employers Standard is one way we can do this. When you register to take part you can then begin the process of gathering evidence to support your submission. It will be assessed using the six pillars of inclusion and your organisation will receive feedback from our experts, who will provide action-focused advice designed to improve your inclusion impact.

You can talk to us about getting involved in the Inclusive Employers Standard by filling in the form below.


Recruit with confidence

Inclusive recruitment is key to diversifying your workforce.

Our experts provide tailored support, whether you’re starting from scratch or reviewing your current practices.

Recruitment audit, training, policy review, and job design; we can support you with all stages of the recruitment process.

Talk to us about recruiting inclusively

Learn more about the Inclusive Employers Standard