What’s top of your strategic priorities this year? We’re guessing diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a significant challenge. And that’s why we have tools, training and resources to support you to grow an inclusive, respectful and flourishing workforce.
In our latest Annual Membership Survey, we asked members what their top three strategic priorities are for 2022. The response? Fifty per cent put D&I on their list as their number one priority.
Alongside that, 87% told us that their company has made or is working on D&I commitments. While that number hasn’t changed from last year, what has changed is the number of initiatives that people are working on. There’s a lot of great work going on out there, from unconscious bias training, ensuring interview panels are diverse, embedding clear and structured policies, and offering equal growth opportunities. But this is a complex challenge and there’s no quick fix.
D&I – a multi-faceted challenge
The specific top D&I challenge that TAs face, depends on sector. For example, in the charity sector, 9.5% of the workforce are people of colour, compared to 13.1% from all UK sectors. While in advertising, a recent survey revealed that ageism is the most commonly reported form of discrimination, with just 5% of the workforce aged over 55.
But of course, D&I isn’t only about the discrimination headliners of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity or age. Neurodiversity, for example, is an often overlooked aspect of diversity. Ten per cent of the population is neurodivergent, so to make your organisation truly inclusive, you need to support those who think, behave and learn differently to what’s considered typical. Bringing new ways of thinking into your company can only be a benefit and has been championed by forward-thinking companies, an example being Microsoft and its autism hiring programme.
There are other biases that are rarely talked about, but are powerful internal narratives – for example, tattoos, obesity, regional accents or the perceived quality of universities. And there are types of diversity that people acquire along the way, such as work experience, areas of study, or cultures they’ve experienced living in. D&I rightly focuses on protected characteristics, but all these factors need to be looked at to achieve a fully inclusive culture.
Why does it matter anyway?
According to Neil Armstrong, Chief Commercial Officer of Tribepad: “Equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforces are the single biggest asset organisations have”.
So why is that? Well, of course, encouraging inclusive workplaces is the right thing to do – morally and ethically. But doing so also has a wealth of far-reaching benefits. Promoting difference and diversity can:
- Expand your talent pool – Being very deliberate about attracting diverse applicants will increase the pool of talent, ultimately accessing great candidates who may otherwise have gone unnoticed.
- Build more creativity – Diverse teams, with different viewpoints, backgrounds and experiences will lead to more innovative and creative solutions.
- Increase revenue due to innovation – Research by the Boston Consulting Group showed that organisations with above-average diversity in its leadership had almost one-fifth higher revenue from innovative products and services than those with less diverse management.
- Influence better decision-making – According to innovation foundation, Nesta, diversity is the most important factor for a group’s collective intelligence – in terms of demographic, cognitive style, levels of experience and expertise. For example, having more women in a group raises emotional awareness and social sensitivity.
- Increase financial performance – In 2018, the Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies have better overall financial performance.
- Lead to greater job satisfaction – Diverse teams are more likely to have greater job satisfaction and be more committed to your organisation, leading to stronger employee retention.
The Firm – world-class tools, training and resources
It’s clear that The Firm’s members are meeting the challenge of D&I head-on. They told us that almost 90% of their companies are busy implementing new ways to increase diversity and improve inclusion – from creating dedicated internal networks and steering groups, through to those just starting out with developing D&I strategies.
But how are we helping? Some words from our Managing Director, Emma Mirrington:
Our resources are as diverse as a Capgemini workforce. They range from tools to help you use gender inclusive language in the workplace, to guides on how to recruit autistic talent. We run inclusive recruitment workshops – drawing on the very best industry practice, and host a diversity jobs board, for TAs focusing on this specific area of the profession. Whether you need strategic consultancy or every day practical tools, we have the lot.
Research that packs a punch
And our powerful research has helped members push the D&I agenda at their companies. Take Samantha Lee, Head of Recruitment and Early Talent, from Womble Bond Dickinson: “The challenges we face are no different from anybody else. In terms of D&I challenges, we have a higher percentage of women in entry roles but less women in leadership plus low ethnic diversity. For me, the survey results have helped to make business cases. For example, D&I was a priority for WDB, but when it came up as a top priority for the sector, that helped us to push the business case.”
Find out how being part of The Firm can give you the edge in D&I.