Do you encourage diversity in the workplace?
The lack of diversity in the workplace, and particularly at board level has been recently scrutinised, and a survey by Green Park found that there has been a significant increase in the number of ‘all-white’ boards. While the topic of race is high on the agenda, issues such as gender, sexual orientation and disability inequality have also rightly come into play. Below are suggestions on how to effectively implement a diverse composition of staff within a business and how to create a culture that embraces employees from all walks of life.
Top down Approach
Creating a diverse company culture and encouraging diversity in the workplace, must begin in the boardroom in order for it to filter into the rest of the company.
Successful businesses thrive on creativity and innovation, this will not be achieved if you have a group of people with very similar backgrounds and experiences all being the driving force. Divergent background leads to a variety of skills, insights and competencies and enhances the ability to adapt in the ever changing world of business.
You may not overtly discriminate, but are your behaviours inclusive to females, to the LGBT community and to those with a disability?
Does the diversity in your boardroom reflect your client base?
No doubt there will be a range of diversity within your client base and prospects, if your company structure does not reflect this – you are not only failing your clients, but also your business.
Diversity across the entire workforce not only gives you credibility but also provides you with an extra level of knowledge and sensitivity, allowing you to engage with your customers on a deeper level, anticipating their needs and strengthening relationships.
This is NOT just a transparent PR exercise, it’s easy to pay lip service and implement a quick reshuffle; this is creating an agenda of change.
Mentoring schemes can be an invaluable experience to your staff, cementing their belief in the availability of career progression within the company and increasing staff loyalty. They serve to educate and encourage collaboration; both go a long way to increase the productivity in a workforce and creating the opportunity for an ongoing positive change.
Telefonica are leading the way with their Women in Leadership programme, through mentoring and development sessions, it supports women in the business by developing the skills required to progress their career to the highest levels in the company.
In a 2012 Government survey, only 46.3% of working age disabled people were employment, there are some incredible EU case studies about the positive outcomes of mentoring between disabled and able bodied employees.
Embrace Flexible Working
This may already be particularly prevalent for women in your business, who are prone to feeling sidelined because they have family commitments. The outdated approach of only making flexible working available to women can also add to a feeling of resentment among other staff, and result in gathering workplace tension.
Re-evaluate working hours and shift patterns to exert an accommodating and empathetic attitude to all team members. This isn’t to say everyone will work when they choose, but that there is flexibility in what is available.
Apprenticeships are mutually beneficial, they offer businesses a fresh perspective and new ideas, whilst providing young people a route to in which they can reach their full potential, many of which may come from disadvantaged backgrounds, or have struggled in an academic setting.
A Union Learn report stated that both women and those from an ethnic minority are often under-represented in the Apprenticeship stakes.
A business that is an avid supporter of apprenticeships, particularly those that embrace all angles of diversity is undoubtedly going to gain respect and an improved reputation in its community as well as industry and will have an edge over competitors, especially when encouraging diversity in the company at both end of the spectrum.