A diverse workforce is a more productive one. discover how employers are encouraging greater inclusivity among their staff!
From race, gender, sexual orientation and age to personality, education, physical ability and background, diversity covers the myriad ways humans differ from one another. But while society may be diverse, workplaces don’t always reflect the communities in which they operate.
However, employers are growing increasingly aware that a diverse workforce is more productive one. A recent McKinsey study found that the most gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform those who are the least diverse, while those that are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely. That’s because organisations employing a diverse workforce can come up with a greater variety of solutions to problems in service, sourcing and allocation of resources. Employees from diverse backgrounds also bring individual talents and experiences, making the companies they work for better able to adapt to fluctuating markets and customer demands.
Take the initiative
Many employers are signing up to government and industry-backed initiatives to help them increase diversity among their employees. For example, National Inclusion Week is an annual event run by Inclusive Employers, whose members range from banks, retailers and academic bodies to charities and manufacturers.
Employers across the board, from finance and construction to music and medicine, are also increasingly working with minority groups such as Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), LGBT+, women’s and disability organisations to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to apply for jobs and enhance their career opportunities.
A balanced workforce is good for business – it’s good for customers, profitability and workplace culture. It’s also increasingly attractive for investors. Here’s how different industries are working to advance diversity and inclusivity.
In October, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) green-lit its largest ever initiative to make the UK construction industry a more inclusive place to work. Over the next five years, the cross-industry Fairness, Inclusion and Respect programme will invest £1.5m in activities to help make the sector more attractive to people of all backgrounds. The funding will be used to grow a network of 500 ambassadors, who will promote fairness, inclusion and respect in the workplace.
“Our industry is facing skills challenges due to a strong pipeline of work alongside external factors like Brexit and an ageing workforce, so it’s vital that we widen the talent pool,” says Sarah Beale, CEO of CITB. “This initiative will help employers ensure their workplaces are open to people from all backgrounds, bringing… increased recruitment and productivity.”
Finance and banking
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates more than 56,000 financial firms, is leading the way with a strategy to achieve a diverse and inclusive workplace, making diversity integral to attracting, recruiting and developing people at all levels of the organisation.
Elsewhere, the government’s Women in Finance Charter was introduced in March 2016 to encourage financial services firms to commit to creating a gender balance at all levels. More than 160 firms have signed the charter, which requires firms to publicly report on their progress.
Among the signatories is Principality, the UK’s sixth biggest building society, which signed up in July 2016. “Principality is committed to putting diversity at the top of the agenda and has a five-year diversity and inclusion strategy that focuses on having a colleague base that reflects the make-up of the community it serves,’ says Rhian Langham, Principality’s head of human resources.
NCVO, which represents 13,000 organisations in England’s voluntary sector, says there is an awareness among many of its members of the need for diversity. Currently, fewer than one in ten (8%) voluntary sector employees are BAME, a lower proportion than both the public (10%) and private sectors (11%).
However, many charities are taking steps to ensure their boards, volunteers and workforce are increasingly diverse. The Prince’s Trust, for example, has a stated aim “to build and sustain a community which values and respects people’s different backgrounds, characteristics, ideas and beliefs”. The charity, which works to create opportunities for vulnerable young people, has already established a Women In Business network and PULSE, an LGBT+ network.
A recent survey of the music industry found BAME representation is 15.6%, higher than the figure for the UK population as a whole (12.8%). The survey, carried out by UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce, also found that 27.5% of new starters are BAME.
“It seems we have reached a moment where the need to improve the diversity of our industry is being matched by a desire by all the interested parties to put initiatives in place that will make a significant difference,” says Keith Harris, chairman of UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce. “I am optimistic that over the coming few years we will see a significant improvement.”
Despite efforts to increase gender parity and ethnic diversity among UK doctors, the lack of people from a wide range of economic backgrounds entering the profession is still a reality. To try to broaden the range of people choosing a career in medicine, all UK medical schools are required to offer some kind of outreach scheme. These include summer schools for secondary school students that assist with medical school applications and gaining work experience, to primary school outreach that seeks to inspire children at a young age.
Universities such as King’s College London offer a six-year extended medical degree programme, with dedicated places for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The course uses additional information, such as school performance data and socio-economic markers, to provide context for individual applicants’ entry and provides extra support by spreading the first year of medical school across two years.
King’s College’s six-year extended medical degree programme MBBS is specifically designed for students who are studying A-levels or access to medicine at non-selective state schools in greater London or who are participants of Realising Opportunities across England. The programme offers a more graduated introduction to medical study than the five-year MBBS programme and provides greater academic and pastoral support.
closing the gender pay gap!
When the salaries of BBC stars were published in July, the gender pay gap that was exposed caused a national outrage. It was revealed that only 35% of those earning more than £150,000 a year were women and that female hosts were earning considerably less than their male co-hosts.
A report into BBC pay found that men working for the corporation earn an average of 9.3% more than women. The figure covers all staff, on and off air, and has been put down to the fact that there are more men in senior jobs. It compares with a UK average gender pay gap of 18%.
While the BBC director general Tony Hall said the report showed the corporation was “in a better place than many organisations,” he has pledged to close the pay gap by 2020 and said the corporation should be “an exemplar of what can be achieved when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation”.
The government has ordered all charities, private and public sector employers with 250 or more staff to publish their gender pay details by April 2018 in a bid to encourage the elimination of the gender pay gap through greater transparency.