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Diversifying your workforce

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The government is striving for FTSE 100 boards to be at least a 25% female. There is a lot of talk about companies needing to diversify, but what is actually being done about it? Stirland delves deeper.

Shifting towards a diverse outlook

More and more people seem to be talking about diversity in the workplace which is, of course, a great thing. But, despite an increase in awareness of the problem, we still simply don’t have enough actual diversity in our modern businesses.

Britain is the proud home of multiculturalism but if these different demographics aren’t being recognised in the workplace then perhaps we’re not as inclusive as we originally thought.

A quick look at the figures show that there is still plenty of work to be done. The UK hasn’t quite reached the government’s target of 25 per cent of women serving on the boards of FTSE 100 companies, although we’re getting close at 23.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, Google openly acknowledged they weren’t where they’d like to be with their gender and ethnicity equality in the workplace initiative earlier this year. It’s great that diversity is on our radar but we need to see big businesses take positive stands and begin implementing practices that will encourage a fairer work environment. If they lead the way, smaller businesses will find it easier to follow.

Bringing diversity to the workplace can initially be a challenge but, if it’s a step towards creating a fairer workplace with diverse perspectives, this can only be a good thing in the long run.

The benefits of diversity

Just a few weeks ago, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook declared that diverse teams get better results, ahead of unveiling their internal bias management training scheme to the general public. With a focus on breaking down the preconceptions and initial judgements people have when hiring, it’s inspiring to see such a powerful, well-known technology company taking accountability and offering solutions to this widespread issue.

Modern life in Britain has so many facets to it and we’re truly living in an international community, why wouldn’t your company want to reap the benefits of different viewpoints and experiences from all walks of life?

A diverse workforce is likely to be more adaptable and approach problem solving and ideas from differing viewpoints, all of which fosters innovation and can help your business outthink the competition. There’s also no doubt that a diverse workforce is more accepting and empathetic to those from different backgrounds, generating a wholly more positive and inclusive company culture.

What can we do to make our workforce more diverse?

Striving for diversity shouldn’t just be a numbers-driven game – it should shape a more thoughtful and equal way of managing your business. It’s the people within a company that make it tick. And, at the end of the day it’s all about the right person for the job.

Management teams that ensure that they have different backgrounds and cultures complimenting each other will help their company stay ahead of the curve. This always starts with people having the right attitude towards the workplace: being open to making mistakes and trying out new ideas, without fear of repercussions. Diversity isn’t something that should be shoehorned into your business but should be developed naturally due to a welcoming environment.

In recruitment, the merit of a candidate and what they can contribute to your business should always be at the forefront of your considerations. Hiring from different channels can help to expand the type of candidates your reach. We hire in line with our cultural values of collaboration, communication and openness, meaning we look beyond the superficial and aim to find individuals who are driven, passionate and open-minded. Internally, promotions are based on merit and dealt with in a transparent way, meaning our workforce naturally becomes more diverse.

Unfortunately, I think we’ll be deliberating on the topic of better diversity in the workplace for years to come, but as long as the topic is on the agenda, we’re moving in the right direction. With big players in the technology industry starting to recognise the value of diverse workforces, this will start to trickle down to more open outlooks from smaller companies and inspire a new generation of businesses to embrace the importance of diversity. 

Stirland Martin

By Stirland Martin

Stirland Martin is group account director at We Are AD and Fluid Creativity.

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