Thoughts on meaningful change
So, you’re one of the white people we can speak to about racism, what next?
By Nancy Brown, Finance Manager – Consensio Chalets
The answer is learning from the mistakes of the past to create an equal society for everyone. Don’t be known for standing by and doing nothing, be known for being the people that pave the way. Let’s make change happen!
Businesses, institutions, councils and the government are now all being challenged to create fairer systems. The profits from imperialism that Britain has continued to benefit from are being scrutinised and change is being demanded on a wide scale. Ignoring the movement and failing to provide equal opportunities is no longer taking a back seat, it is now viewed as supporting systematic racism. However, there is a need to be cautious about tokenism and the provision of well-intentioned but under prepared services. Failure could reverse progress and sour relationships.
What are the benefits of a diverse workforce?
It seems obvious that a diverse workplace would be a benefit, with advantages like innovation, creativity and increased productivity but here’s some substance behind the statement. “An estimated £24 billion a year could be added to our GDP were we to ensure full representation of BME individuals across the labour market.” Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE (UK).
Some research taken from Thomson and Reuters on the benefits of racial diversity in the workplace, source found here >>
- Companies with the highest rate of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels.
- Diversity can increase economic performance by as much as 2.2 times for profitability and 2 times stock valuation.
- Companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity outperform the bottom quartile by more than 53% in return on equity.
Why isn’t this happening already given the statistics?
Breaking down the barriers to minority progression and inclusion usually involves either starting a business with that mindset or reworking the structure of a company. The latest research shows how underrepresented BAME employees are in the top jobs in the UK (links below).
Here are some of the examples of why:
- Policies and procedures are flawed, for example wage inequality and the ‘glass ceiling’.
- Unconscious cultural biases. One example of this is the lack of diversity at the top as top managers are hiring people who reflect their own cultural identity.
- Lack of protection for BAME employees in the top jobs. In a competitive environment the minority group is more likely to be the target of workplace abuse. These types of scenarios are more difficult to challenge. What kind of protection for minorities are there in place to combat these occurrences?
- Companies lack the structures to promote and support BAME employees.
- Well meaning initiatives can easily fail if they are not properly planned and resourced. When new initiatives are suggested future planning refers to the failed attempts. Therefore, prior failed attempts are demotivating and damaging.
- Promoting diversity in the workplace seems like a marathon when there is no diversity in the first place.
Well, how is it done then?
- Picking the right people to implement the changes. They need to be motivating, assertive and innovative. A lot of unforeseen problems will occur during the process of change. They need to be able to think round the barriers and develop strategies to remove them.
- Research; consulting those who will benefit from the initiative is paramount. Also looking at potential funding from government schemes to increase the sustainability of the projects.
- Taking on feedback. Nothing is perfect; critical evaluation is necessary for progress and should be continual. Things like surveys, mentoring feedback sessions, think tank groups.
- Getting everyone invested in the initiative. If everyone is not on board, ask why? Get to the root cause and go from there.
- Mentoring programs; a mentoring system is crucial to the success of this type of initiative. Also providing appropriate mentors is key.
- Accountability; all complaints of discrimination should be followed through fairly and actioned appropriately. Open channels of communication around issues such as pay and benefits and provide a transparent pay scheme.
- Review; getting an independent employee or team to review the initiative periodically. Having discussions with the decision makers to implement the changes from the review and push change forward.
- Measuring success and communicating it internally and externally and celebrating the success.
What about examples of large companies doing it well already?
The link below is a list of the UK top 10 BAME inclusive employers based on research conducted by Verdica:
What about companies where the clientele is predominantly white?
A recent example of a company that was established on the basis of inclusion and diversity is Tennis Icon UK. This is a company that is dedicated to encouraging talent and providing access to tennis for all and has had proven success since its conception. I spoke to them to see how they did it.
“The schemes we have employed at Tennis Icon UK have been a huge success due to our dedication and passion for being a truly inclusive and flexible company. Our ‘Inspire to Play’ programme actively breaks down barriers, helping to open the sport to wider sections of the community, accessing public and government funds, keeping tennis affordable and accessible in areas with diverse demographics. We combine participation with performance to instil a passion for the sport, providing a clear pathway to success for every participant regardless of background, ethnicity and affluence. The key to our success is our passion and drive to create change in perceptions of the sport” – James Barry, CEO Tennis Icon UK
Use this link to for more details on Tennis Icon UK’s Inspire to Play program: Tennis Icon UK >>
In conclusion, don’t wait to embrace diversity, the benefits go far beyond the statistics and estimated gains. Creativity, innovation, mitigating risks and new markets are just a few of the positives that your company will gain. Breaking down the structural barriers to equality previously seemed difficult in some areas. However, attitudes have shifted, and change is being viewed more positively. This is absolutely the right time to make improvements and create a fairer society for everyone.
From Ceri Tinley – Managing Director
We have been observing the events from around the world over the last couple of weeks and while we have wanted to write a message of support and solidarity, our words just didn’t seem relevant or appropriate. After reaching out, we asked Nancy if she would like to use our blog to write a thought piece on current events instead. We fully embrace the ideals of equality for everyone and we are working with minority focussed organisations to break down the barriers through inclusion and accessibility within our organisation.