Workforce Diversity can help us out of the Pandemic

    Workforce Diversity can help us out of the Pandemic

     Here at HDN we’re working on our ‘back to the office’ plans in the hope that we’ll shortly be able to meet again in our Bradford HQ and soon start to offer face to face meetings and courses the length and breadth of the country.

    We had a blast at the Virtual Staff Mentoring Programme Celebration event in June, but we really hope that will be the last one where we peer at each other from behind a laptop screen. We’re ready to fill a room again, slowly but surely, cautiously and sensibly. Heading back to work after a year and a half of working from home, or furlough, might be daunting for some, so let’s all keep an eye out for our colleagues; but the next 12 months could be the best ever.

    Our Board Diversity Programme is continuing to unearth talent from every background with the aim of reflecting, truly, the customers that our Associations serve, and enriching our leadership teams with ideas and inspiration from every sector of society.

    And it works.

    Sometimes it’s easier to measure progress in ED&I in the private sector, mainly because the corporate world works meticulously with the numbers, and a recent study carried out by the Henley Business School has reported that businesses which target racial equality measures have earned up to 60 per cent more in revenue than their less inclusive rivals.

    The Henley study analysed the earnings of 100 top companies, and found that the businesses which targeted support for ethnic minority groups earned an average of £5.6bn compared with the £3.6bn earned for firms which did not. The report also revealed that white business leaders were less likely to report seeing discrimination than their ethnic minority backgrounds at 30 to 47 per cent. As companies, and public sector and not-for-profit organisations, climb away from the pandemic, it is as important as ever to have an ED&I culture which will bring a competitive advantage and promote fairness and opportunity for all.

    One of the main advantages of a truly diverse way of working is that staff morale and retention is invariably better and, as any HR professional will know, it costs much more to hire and train a member of staff than to retain an existing employee.

    We don’t want to become too obsessed with the numbers, but there’s an old adage which says, ‘if you don’t measure something it probably won’t get done’. At a recent HDN webinar where we discussed the Ethnicity Pay Gap a show of hands told us around half of our delegates measured the pay gap within their organisation. And a recent report commissioned by the Recruitment and Employment Federation found that two in five recruitment companies are failing to collect any diversity data on their workforce. And without a clear picture it is difficult to identify under-represented groups. Religious beliefs were the least likely to be recorded, with nine in ten organisations not collecting that data, while two thirds of recruiters were not collecting data on sexual orientation.

    In our recent Podcast, Dave Procter, Chair of Together Housing, was at pains to suggest that the old tick-box approach to diversity was out-dated and less than useful, so we clearly need more than just an accurate measure. But if we know where we are, we can work out what we need to do; and the end game is to ensure that we don’t miss out on any talent or experience on the basis of any lingering unconscious bias. As our brilliant mentees never fail to illustrate, there are great people at every level of every organisation and when we help people to fulfil their potential and find their place…everybody benefits.

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