It's Working for Them ; If So Many Successful Organisations Value Diversity among Their Staff, Why Doesn't Every Employer? after All, Research Shows It Makes Sound Business Sense. by Niki Chesworth
Chesworth, Niki, The Evening Standard (London, England)
CREATING an inclusive workplace involves more than just "doing" diversity for cosmetic reasons. While the law, particularly the new Equality Act, puts legal requirements on employers, many successful organisations do not need an Act of Parliament to act on this issue - - they are already committed to ensuring their workforce is diverse and inclusive.
"There is a compelling business case which should encourage organisations to look beyond legal compliance with anti- discrimination laws," says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
"We believe that recognising and valuing diversity is central to good people management. Employers who sit on the sidelines regarding diversity will quickly become less attractive to existing and prospective employees."
Aside from the social justice argument -- the belief that everyone should have a right to equal access to employment and when employed should have equal pay and equal access to training and development, as well as being free of any direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or bullying -- there is also a compelling business argument for a diverse workforce.
"However, these business case arguments build on the social justice arguments," says the CIPD. "They are not an alternative."
CIPD research on the psychological contract shows that people want to work for employers with good practices.
They also want to feel valued at work. CIPD says: "To be competitive, organisations need everyone who works for them to make their best con-tribution. Increasingly, employers are recognising the importance of diversity in recruiting and retaining the skills and talent they need.
"Creating open and inclusive workplace cultures in which everyone feels valued, and respects colleagues, is recognised as key."
A diverse workforce can also help organisations with their market competitiveness, for example by broadening their customer base. In the case of a supermarket, that could be offering products to satisfy a wider range of dietary needs and eating preferences. A broad and representative workforce can also enhance an organisation's reputation.
"Businesses need to consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the context of diversity," adds the CIPD. "CSR is usually thought of as being linked to environmental issues, but an increasing number of employers take a wider view, seeing the overall image of an organisation as important in attracting and retaining both customers and employees. Indeed, it can be argued that CSR is part of the psychological contract between a firm and the community or communities in which it operates."
At the most visible level, this can include employing staff that reflect the customer base.
"Equal opportunity is often seen as meaning treating everyone in exactly the same way," adds the CIPD. "But to provide real equality of opportunity, people need to be treated differently in ways that are fair and tailored to their needs but in ways aligned to business needs and objectives."
Many of the successful organisations which already provide this "real equality of opportunity" are taking part in The Diversity Careers Show, which takes place in London tomorrow.
FINANCIAL SERVICES Heavily represented at the careers show is the financial services sector, which is recognised as one of the most diverse employers.
However, while the public sector may feel the need to have a diverse workforce to reflect its customer base, in the Square Mile the driver is the need to be competitive.
To remain so, banks need to attract top talent regardless of sex, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, maternity, pregnancy, gender reassignment or age (the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.) A headline sponsor of The Diversity Careers Show, Credit Suisse, says it aims to be the employer of choice by attracting and retaining the best and most diverse talent.
"Credit Suisse's strategy is focused on engaging difference: leveraging the diverse perspectives and talents of our employees to achieve our business goals," says the global bank. "Credit Suisse is building a talent-driven culture, where the best -- regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion or nationality -- are free to realise their full potential and deliver their best performance.
The bank has developed a series of programmes and employee networks that foster communication, help employees balance their work and personal lives, and assist employees in becoming involved in their communities."
Another of the supporters of the Diversity Careers Show is Barclays.
Anthony Watson, global head of technology optimisation & transformation and chief information officer, Global Operations, says: "Diversity and inclusion is very high on Barclays' agenda. As a multi-national we want to hire the best, which means we need to hire people from different backgrounds with different experiences, knowledge and understanding."
Also attending the show are American Express, Bloomberg, the Financial Services Authority, Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
THE LEGAL PROFESSION The legal profession also includes some high- profile employers with a culture of welcoming a diverse range of recruits. Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie, Herbert Smith, Hogan Lovells and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are all hoping to attract talented individuals at the show.
Once again, these are organisations promoting diversity not just because it is right, but also because it makes sense. For example, global law firm Hogan Lovells says: "The quality of our work and our people are at the heart of what we do -- we invest in our people and promote diversity, seeking out the best and with the highest potential from a variety of backgrounds.
"We pride ourselves on there being no Hogan Lovells 'type', but what links our people is strong intellect, drive, professionalism and an ability to reach the highest levels of excellence."
CONSULTANCY The Big Four consultancy groups may be viewed as very white, middle class organisations but they too are encouraging applicants from a diverse range of groups. For example, Ernst & Young says: "Diversity and inclusiveness is core to our corporate values and integral to everything we do. We want to ensure that all our people, regardless of race, gender or sexuality, are able achieve their potential and are able to be themselves at work. This in turn helps us to deliver a high quality service and create competitive advantage.
"This year, we were very proud that our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Network (EYGLES) was named Stonewall's 2010 Network Group of the Year, which was a testament to the passion, energy and hard work of the network's members and the genuine commitment of Ernst & Young to supporting the network's activities. "We also have an active Diversity and Inclusiveness Steering Group made up of senior partners and chaired by a member of our board, which drives our strategy through the business, ensuring that diversity and inclusiveness is part of everything we do."
THE POLICE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade and several police forces including Thames Valley Police are all attending the Diversity Careers Show. Police forces in particular regularly feature in lists of the best employers for gay people.
TECHNOLOGY IBM, Microsoft and HP are among the recruiters at the show and perhaps what sums up current thinking among employers are these words from HP.
"Behind every one of our breakthroughs is a group of thinkers, a team of individuals who examine challenges from every possible angle. When these minds get together, we spur each other to new heights.
"There's power in our differences. There's strength in bringing together men and women of different nations, cultures, sexual orientation, ethnic groups, lifestyles, generations, backgrounds and skills. We consider diversity to be one of our strongest business tools.
Diversity propels us from convention to invention. That's why we celebrate different perspectives -- and we're honoured to be acknowledged ourselves with awards that prove we're making a difference. It's ironic, isn't it? Our differences are what ultimately bring us together."
Creating open and inclusive workplace cultures in which everyone feels valued, and respects colleagues, is recognised as key…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: It's Working for Them ; If So Many Successful Organisations Value Diversity among Their Staff, Why Doesn't Every Employer? after All, Research Shows It Makes Sound Business Sense. by Niki Chesworth. Contributors: Chesworth, Niki - Author. Newspaper title: The Evening Standard (London, England). Publication date: October 21, 2010. Page number: 56. © Not available. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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