Fair, Creative and Compact: Views of Wales from the Heart of London; Many Welsh People Work in Business and Professional Services in London. Chris Kelsey Sought out Their Opinions on the Key Areas Policymakers Should Concentrate on to Improve Life in Wales in 2016

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

Fair, Creative and Compact: Views of Wales from the Heart of London; Many Welsh People Work in Business and Professional Services in London. Chris Kelsey Sought out Their Opinions on the Key Areas Policymakers Should Concentrate on to Improve Life in Wales in 2016


EMBRACING our head start in diversity, exploiting our most successful export industries and standing up for those in need are three of the key things our Welsh Londoners would like to see us do in 2016 There's a thriving community of people from Wales who work in business and professional services in Wales. Many of them meet regularly as part of the Wales in London group.

We asked three to reflect from the capital on the key things they would like to see happening in Wales in 2016, and how Wales can capitalise on the advantages it has.

Nicola Richards Wales has few structural advantages over London, which still remains probably THE world city and the engine of growth and prosperity for the UK.

But there is one area where Wales does have an advantage over the capital. It is by and large a socially diverse and fair country where one's station in life is not set by social class or an elite private education system.

The general business case for social diversity and fairness of opportunity is undeniable and has been understood for many years.

The brightest and the best employees are found by recruiting from the widest pool of talent. Businesses that attract the brightest and the best to work for them are the best and most successful businesses.

Global businesses recognise this and are no longer willing to accept the unfairness and mediocrity that accompanies old world class and education-based hierarchies. They actively search out cultures that are fair and inclusive because such cultures generate the best ideas and the best returns.

Things are changing in London, but slowly and unevenly. Many senior roles in companies, public institutions such as the judiciary and the professions in particular are still filled with a self-selecting and selfperpetuating elite.

There is now a reaction to the pressure from the global economy for the necessary change to be effected quickly. At a national level, the UK Government's Social Mobility Compact recognises these constraints and aims to improve social mobility by encouraging businesses to open up opportunities to everyone.

This asks businesses to do three key things: | Raise aspirations by working with schools and communities to raise awareness of potential high level careers.

Provide fair access to work experience. Individuals are more likely to develop the academic credentials and skills they need to succeed in their chosen career if given the chance to experience it first hand.

Recruit openly and fairly from more diverse social and educational backgrounds. It is clearly important that selection criteria must identify potential not polish.

The Welsh Government should recognise that it has a huge headstart in this area. Many of these aims and opportunities pervade Welsh society already.

Along with the benefit of a vibrant capital city, a thriving culture, sport and language, it has a society that is already mostly meritocratic and fair. These attributes are hugely and increasingly attractive to truly global companies and investors.

Of course there is no room for complacency. Levels of poverty are rising and pockets of severe multiple deprivation are growing in the postindustrial valleys and in many rural communities.

These disadvantages harm life chances, a fact recognised by the Welsh Government which has introduced the Tackling Poverty programme to address these issues. And of course social fairness and diversity will not by itself be enough to transform Wales' fortunes. Structural issues with the economy, public governance and transport will all need to be addressed also.

But Wales should not only be proud of its largely fair and equal society, it should use it as a selling point to the like-minded business community worldwide. In this respect London has much to learn.

Born and brought up in Swansea, Nicola Richards is chair of diversity and inclusion at City law firm Macfarlanes, having recently retired as a partner. …

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Fair, Creative and Compact: Views of Wales from the Heart of London; Many Welsh People Work in Business and Professional Services in London. Chris Kelsey Sought out Their Opinions on the Key Areas Policymakers Should Concentrate on to Improve Life in Wales in 2016
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