Every business or organisation should be representative of its community and everyone in the community should have fair access to the opportunities that exist.
But whatever you think about the right thing to do, diversity is commercially sound.
A diverse business is a creative business.
If everyone in the room is the same – same background, same sort of life experiences, same age, same gender, same ethnicity – chances are they’ll come up with the same old solutions.
Introduce a sprinkling of something different and thought processes may shift a little. Imagine if the group was truly diverse, every participant bringing their individual experiences and perspectives. The dynamic in the room would foster creativity. You’d get radically different solutions, ones that give you real competitive edge.
So how do you build a diverse organisation?
I was at a brilliant event recently; it met its brief perfectly and everyone there loved it. But the gender balance was awful. Someone asked me how to attract women to the event. My answer … if you’re serious about engaging with new cohorts, whoever they are, you have to think in a new way, behave differently.
Like it or not the leadership sets the culture, whether it’s by passive laissez-faire or defining the mission, vision and values and embodying them in their behaviours. A business will only be truly diverse if the leadership fully embraces the concept.
People like me would say I don’t have any prejudices, but I’m kidding myself. Of course I do. I’m human.
So the first step is for the leadership to openly acknowledge, understand and then challenge their own prejudices. Then they will be able to develop initiatives like the one at mac birmingham I heard about this week.
My understanding is mac birmingham wanted their workforce to reflect their local community so they did away with application forms and interviews. They now run ‘job open days’. Those who come along are assessed in live situations and only complete the application form once they are offered a job. No one is screened out based on the number of GCSEs or the professional layout of their CV; they are screened in according to their attitude and ability to do the job.
[Image courtesy of Shutterstock.]