Diversity At Work: How Far Have We Come?
1 June 2017
Having attended the Herald’s inaugural Diversity Conference last week, I was encouraged by the discussions on what progress has been made in the areas of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
There are some great businesses out there who are embracing the concept that engaging a diverse workforce is not only the economically sensible thing to do but is also the right thing to do. Inclusive economic growth is beneficial for employee and employer alike.
It’s so important that businesses realise that diversity is not just legislation on paper, but a viable way to create a thriving and productive workforce that better reflects your customer base.
One speaker made the point that, only by helping people fulfil their potential, will Scotland be able to fulfil its potential. This is a no brainer - whether you believe in a United Kingdom or an independent Scotland - being the best that we can be has got to be what we strive for. And, since Scotland has a population of just over 5 million, it simply can’t afford to not embrace diverse talent.
It is around thirty years since I found myself, as an ambitious young business woman, being told by my then manager that I wouldn’t be considered for a client facing role as it would only be a matter of time before I got married and took time off to have children.
This course of action was clearly seen as nothing short of an inconvenience and a clear red flag to my progression hopes. My only option, as I saw it then, was to move company and pursue a career with a more forward thinking employer. So, I voted with my feet and left.
Thankfully, for women in particular, we have come a long way since those days – the gender pay gap has been reduced to 6.2% as of 2016. There is, however, still a lot of work to be done, and no one can say that the journey has been a walk in the park. In 2017, 5.5% of women in Scotland will still find themselves on the receiving end of pregnancy discrimination.
I do find myself wondering how many talented people today still find themselves facing unfounded prejudices – on the basis of race, disability, age or sexuality - and feel that they have no option other than to move job. How sad would it be for our businesses to shut out entire communities who are ready and willing to work.
There is certainly more awareness today around the issue of unconscious bias and recruitment professionals are working hard to ensure that this is built into the recruitment process. Only by doing this will we start to make real headway in ensuring that capability is the number one reason for recruiting someone.
In my early days of running my business, one of the best pieces of advice I received was: Always hire people who are better then you. If we adopt this approach, then the issue of diversity just simply shouldn’t come into it.
We practice what we preach here at HR Consultancy and are a disability, ethnic minority, gender and LGBTQI friendly business. We actively welcome all job applications and truly believe in celebrating the difference.
Written By Hilary Roberts