Ahead of the National Diversity Awards, we asked some of Britain’s leading organisations about their commitment to inclusion and how they’re changing the face of the workplace
(Global Head of Diversity)
At the British Council, diversity is shorthand for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). We believe all three elements are vital and interrelated. Essentially, we mean understanding, valuing and respecting a range of differences and especially the ‘differences that make a difference’.
The further we go on our EDI journey the more we learn about how the different countries think, talk about and approach diversity. We also learn about the areas of diversity that cause discomfort, or conversely people are prepared to engage with and are enthusiastic about. We have a very diverse workforce as we operate in 110 countries and territories as well as having a responsibility for showcasing and sharing the rich diversity of the UK with the wider world. Our whole mission is about bringing different people together to work with and learn from each other and to develop friendly understanding, so we feel diversity is particularly important for us.
There is no doubt that it brings different perspectives, experiences and approaches which improve our services and ways of working. Our diverse workforce knows our operating environments and what will be appropriate for them as well as what can usefully be challenged. The linguistic diversity and cultural understanding we can draw on has helped avoid many misunderstandings and potential cultural faux pas, for example, and generated strong and useful ideas and approaches to challenging homophobia and stereotypes of disabled people in different parts of the world.
One of our proudest achievements was a project providing work experience for people with learning disabilities undertaken with our office in Pakistan that I initiated with a colleague, but a close second was to contribute in a modest way to an anti-racism project for young South Africans launched by my colleague Jean September in Cape Town. The development and implementation of our Diversity Assessment Framework – a potent measurement tool the whole of the organisation participates in and our CEO champions – is up there too.
We want to ensure we continue to make progress. With diversity, like other things, progress can unravel quite quickly so ensuring this doesn’t happen is crucial. Specifically, amongst other things, we want to ensure more minority ethnic people at the most senior levels in our UK contracted workforce and grow understanding of the impact of unconscious biases.
Thomson Reuters – Geoffrey Williams
(Global Manager, Corporate Responsibility & Inclusion)
Diversity to me means that all kids will care about education because companies like ours recruit only the best people whatever their background. It means our customers deal with a company that has a wide array of creative, innovative and talented employees who partner with them to find solutions to their challenges. It enables us to truly understand the needs of our customers. Equally it helps us to come up with the content, research and analytics our customers need and want. Last, it enables us to develop and retain the best people from around the world. My proudest achievement is our organisation getting accredited for the National Equality Standard ground-breaking initiative led by Ernst&Young. Personally, being nominated for an Excellence In Diversity Award this year was a major highlight. I am also very proud of our corporate video that discusses our commitment to Corporate Responsibility & Inclusion; it was a fresh approach for us at Thomson Reuters. As a business we are focused on true inclusion and are making sure all of our employees feel connected to our business objectives goals and future.
De Poel Community – Janice Henson
de Poel Community was founded on the ethos of championing employment opportunities for all, challenging unconscious bias and supporting employers and recruitment agencies to realise the multiple business benefits of a diverse workforce. Through our work, and that of like-minded organisations, we are seeing tangible results and having an impact on changing perceptions and dispelling myths within our local communities, the recruitment industry and wider employment landscape. We are proud to be supporting The Voice newspaper and National Diversity Awards, which celebrates the outstanding achievements of grassroot communities that, like de Poel Community, tackles issues in today’s society. The awards serve as much-deserved recognition for their commitment and hard work, and I am sure they will inspire many more communities, organisations and individuals to embrace the power of diversity and inclusion.
Creative Skillset empowers the creative industries to develop skills and talent by influencing and shaping policy, ensuring quality and by securing the vital investment for individuals to become the best in their field and for businesses to grow. As the industry skills body, we work across film, television, radio, fashion and textiles, animation, games, visual effects, publishing, advertising, marketing communications and performing arts. Diversity is at the core of what Creative Skillset does.
This may be through supporting certain under-represented groups to enter or progress in the industries we look after through funding programmes like our diversity fund. It could be training initiatives that seek to widen access or information to support people. We know from our research that many people find their ways into the creative sector through informal networks that are not open to all and we see our job to open out these and form new ones like Hiive, our new professional network. We do this for a number of reasons: fairness, to give people an equal chance to get into their chosen profession, but also because to keep our creative industries successful and competitive we need to widen the variety of talent.
Creative Skillset has had many proud moments over many years. We set up the diversity fund, which helps support talent from under-represented across the creative industries. The Diversity Fund can give up to £1,200 per person (or £1600 for disabled people) towards training before February 2016. To date, 38 per cent of beneficiaries of our diversity fund are from BAME backgrounds.
We also undertake key research projects such as our Employment Census of the creative industries in 2012, which helped kick-start a massive campaign about the nature of diversity particularly around race in broadcasting. The workforce survey in 2015 measured LGBT and socio-economic status for first time this year. In future, we want to cultivate diverse talent across all sectors and at all levels of seniority across UK; help employers adopt or improve fair and inclusive practice; good practice guides; work placement guidelines; apprenticeship toolkit and diversity fund; offer online info and networking opportunities to under-represented groups: Careers Team events; Hiive; industry networking. The Publishers Association and Equip are hosting an event on September 23 to help companies find out more about reaching and recruiting diverse talent.
MSDUK – Mayank Shah
(Chief Executive Officer)
For the past 10 years, MSDUK has been driving the ethos of inclusion of ethnic minority businesses (EMBs) in corporate supply chains. For us, diversity means being inclusive in all aspects of social and economic activities providing everyone, irrespective of race, gender, disability or social status, equal opportunity to participate, engage and compete. Inclusive procurement, both in public and private sector, can act as a catalyst for growth of entrepreneurship within some of the most deprived communities and regions of this country.
Inclusive procurement practices (supplier diversity) have a long lasting socio-economic impact – creating jobs, wealth and prosperity in some of the most deprived and underrepresented communities. Our work has helped connect over 1,000 ethnic minority owned businesses (BAME businesses) from all over the country to over 90 large, global corporations, generating more than £60m worth of business that has helped these businesses create 100s of jobs in inner city areas across the country. MSDUK prides itself in being a rare organisation in the United Kingdom that represents all ethnic minority communities across the entire country.
We are the only organisation in the UK that has been funded by the private sector since its inception in 2006. We have earned the trust of some of the world’s largest corporations but what makes it special for us is that we have worked with some of the most enterprising, innovative and ambitious second/third generation entrepreneurs from all ethnic minority communities. MSDUK will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year and we are organising an international conference in London in September 2016. We have set ourselves on an ambitious growth plan that includes doubling the number of EMBs we work with over the next year and even looking at extending our reach to some key European countries.
ITV – Miranda Wayland
(Diversity & Inclusion Manager)
To me, diversity is recognising that everyone’s background and personal experience adds value to any business and also the society in which we live. Diversity is an important part of ITV’s ongoing success. The launch of our Social Partnership statement highlights our commitment to making sure we reflect contemporary Britain.
It has more significance than just being the right thing to do – we want to continue our success as a commercial broadcaster by attracting the largest possible audiences. To do this, we need to reflect and appeal to the breadth of audiences that characterise modern Britain and be mindful of relevant social topics. We understand the need to have the best people for our business. Not only do we want to attract the most talented people to work for us, but we want to enable people to achieve their best and develop their career with us. Therefore ensuring our culture, working environment and processes are also a priority.
The business benefits to ITV in having a diverse workforce enables us to connect to our viewers, create programmes with mass appeal and capitalise on the cultural experiences of our colleagues that fosters an inclusive organisation.
There are a number of achievements I am proud of at ITV, including our Breaking Through Talent and Original Voices initiatives launched with Coronation Street and Emmerdale to increase diversity within our soaps. We have partnered with the Asian Media Awards to recognise and promote diverse Asian talent; we support the MOBO Awards and Race for Opportunity Awards; we were the first UK broadcaster to be accredited as a Living Wage employer; ITVPride was established in 2011 and work strategically within the business to drive inclusiveness and equality at ITV.
In the future, we expect to see our programmes accurately reflect the diverse culture and makeup of modern Britain, ensuring that we attract and retain the best from the widest base possible from which to select our on-screen and off-screen talent. Working in partnership and collaboration our programme makers, producers and the wider business, our objective is to be more reflective of the UK Census both in our programmes and our workforce.
The Global Community and Sport Foundation – Jean-Paul Nguegang
The Global Community and Sport Foundation (GCSF) is a charity set up to promote and raise awareness of matters of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, good citizenship and social inclusion within the community in the Isle of Man and elsewhere through the organisation of educational seminars, conferences, workshops and other training events; undertaking research; and providing mentoring support and/or financial assistance for families and individuals affected by diversity and inclusion issues with a view to helping them achieve their potential as citizens.
Nguegang was instrumental in the launch of a diversity and inclusion network within a major financial institution on the Isle of Man by taking the initiative to engage and seek support from senior leaders.
This led to a successful set up of four diversity networks starting with ethnicity with Jean-Paul as chair followed by the LGBT, gender and disability networks with a common purpose of inclusion, fairness and equality for all colleagues. In 2015, Jean-Paul has continued with this momentum creating of the foundation through which he is now organising the very first annual Diversity and Inclusion Conference to be held on March 22, 2016, in Douglas, Isle of Man. To be involved as a speaker, participant or offer general advice please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PoppyChi – Manjeet Sidhu
With the Government committed to spending £1 in every £3 with SMEs by 2020, diversity means equality of opportunity for small business contractors looking to grow in the next five years. As well as bidding for low value tenders, start-ups, micro-businesses, small businesses and the self-employed can now tap into big corporations supplying direct to the public sector.
If you are a woman-owned, ethnic-minority owned business or a business located in a deprived postcode area, a business headed by someone from the LGBT community or a business headed by someone with a disability, it’s time to forget about the ‘small business glass ceiling’ and start thinking about scalability. PoppyChi is an online PR & marketing communications agency for companies that want to get their stories in front of consumers who live on the web.
Lloyds Banking Group – Klare Britton
(Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion)
At Lloyds Banking Group diversity and inclusion is central to our business success. Our goal is to become the best bank for customers, one that truly reflects 21st century Britain in the diversity of its workforce, and consequently understands the needs of an equally diverse customer base.
We want Lloyds Banking Group to be a genuinely inclusive place to work, with every colleague treated fairly, with dignity and respect. Our 25 million customers are diverse and we need to ensure that we understand and can meet their needs if we are to be successful. Reflecting the diversity of the UK in our own workforce helps us to achieve that goal. At the end of January 2014, as part of our Helping Britain Prosper Plan, we became the first UK bank to set public goals for diversity.
By 2020, we have committed to improve the representation of women at senior levels to 40 per cent; retain our leading edge position on disability; and increase engagement of ethnic minority, disabled and our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender colleagues.
Source: The Voice Online