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Diversity – is it just a buzz word?


It’s time to talk diversity

This month sees the nation taking to a very important vote – whether to stay in or leave the EU. The topics of immigration, nationality and diversity have never been more pertinent and hotly debated.

Regardless of the outcomes of the referendum, diversity will remain important for businesses and organisations in the UK. What’s more, having a team that consists of people from different backgrounds, genders and ethnic origins has been proven to bring higher profits for companies. Let’s explore how we can encourage diversity of people and ideas for the most effective team.


So, What is Diversity?

The University of Edinburgh defines diversity as a system that “aims to recognise, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realise their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture”. Truly diverse teams combine their thought processes, skills and experiences to yield a rich pool of thought and more effective team.

How can you develop a diverse team?

1. Analyse your demographic trends

Women, black and ethnic minority staff as well as disabled and LGBT staff continue to be under-represented in whole industries and over-populated in low-paid roles.  For example, women make up just one quarter of FTSE 100 board members and just 8.6% of Executive Director roles in these companies.

TIP: Use the new Government requirements for companies to report on the gender gap as an opportunity to fully analyse trends and explore options to increase under-representation at all levels of your company.  Encourage staff from under-represented groups to take up development and promotion opportunities as a way of demonstrating commitment.

2. Be wary of recruiting in your own image

It’s easy to stereotype and allow unconscious bias to influence recruitment and promotion decisions. We can feel most comfortable working with people ‘like us’ but a diverse team is more likely to bring excellence.

TIP: Commit to diversity on interview panels and check your recruitment and promotion processes to ensure inclusive criteria, focused on competencies around job requirements, and avoid requirements for unnecessary qualifications and experience.

3. Integration not tokenism

Having a diverse mix of people in one place isn’t enough of itself. Unless you’re willing to integrate as a team, valuing differences and learning from one another, you are unlikely to glean the best results.

TIP: Listen and ask – promote an inclusive environment where every individual is encouraged to share opinions and ideas. Model the behaviour you want from others. Ask for feedback on what works and what doesn’t – both formally (e.g. through staff surveys) and informally whenever you can.  Then make sure you act on it.

4. The best ideas happen outside of your comfort zone

Finally, the most diverse thought happens when we challenge ourselves to think differently. Routine can get in the way of creativity so consider ways to mix things around.

TIP: Ask for ideas on different ways of running meetings or communicating with customers. Try working from a different location or swapping your work area with a colleague sometimes.

Wishing you success and happiness,

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One thought on “Diversity – is it just a buzz word?

  • Simon Kilbey

    Hi Mary , thought I’d leave a comment to say what a great website you have , really enjoyed reading it – lots of thoughtful stuff and so well designed . Sorry that the enquiry made by Corinne (who works for me) a while ago didn’t come to anything but we have a new director and there was a change of plan . Anyway I’m about to jump ship as Head of HR and WD at Tower Hamlets Council into the world interim and consultancy work . In fact a website like yours might be on my shopping list !Good to see you doing so well . Simon Kilbey