Category Archives: Diversity

Along for the P-ride: Streetbees shares the most meaningful actions brands can take for LGBTQ+ inclusivity

London, 20 June 2024: Streetbees, which delivers bespoke qualitative and quantitative audience insight at scale using conversational research, today released new research highlighting consumer sentiment and expectations around brand engagement with Pride month.  

 The findings underscore the need for brands to take authentic and meaningful actions to support the LGBTQ+ community beyond surface-level marketing efforts throughout June. 

Streetbees’ insights were derived from conversational surveys with 1,067 consumers in the UK who are aware of Pride month, conducted through the company’s agile insights platform, SBX. 

 

Key insights from the research include: 

  • 81% of consumers define Pride month as a time for LGBTQ+ advocacy, followed by celebrating individuality (46%), community support (42%), celebrating freedom (26%), and acceptance (22%). 
  • 75% of consumers have a generally positive sentiment towards brand engagement with Pride month, but 39% perceive rainbow marketing as “disingenuous” and “inappropriate.” 

 

When asked how brands can make meaningful engagement, consumers cited year-round engagement (40%) as the most important factor, followed by LGBTQ+ support (31%), inclusive practices (29%), charitable donations (22%) and inclusive advertising (20%).  

 

The findings show that a rainbow marketing campaign is not enough for consumers. To resonate authentically and demonstrate genuine allyship, brands must take meaningful steps to demonstrate their inclusivity and support internally, to make their external efforts come across authentically. There are several steps that can be taken including implementing ongoing LGBTQ+ employee resource groups and training programs to foster an inclusive workplace culture year-round. Additionally, brands can show their tangible support by donating to LGBTQ+ organisations and prioritising inclusive advertising that authentically represents the community, avoiding stereotypes and tokenism. 

 

“Our research reveals the importance of brands extending their support for LGBTQ+ communities beyond just one month of the year. Adopting inclusive logos as a one off simply isn’t enough. People believe genuine support should have a tangible impact” said Vidisha Gaglani, CEO, Streetbees. “Brands that represent and champion diversity and inclusivity in all of their activities are seen to be authentic.” 

 For more information about Streetbees’ Pride month research visit: https://www.streetbees.com/post/which-brands-are-p-riding-high-this-june 

 

About Streetbees 

Streetbees is heralding a new era of market research. Our unique tool offers in-depth, high-quality audience insights at speed and at low cost. 

Unlike traditional methods, SBX gathers audience insight using a conversational approach, underpinned by large language models (LLMs), which are trained on high quality data sets. This means the tool optimises its questions in real time to gather richer and more meaningful responses at scale. 

Backed by a team with decades of experience in market research, our tool makes research faster and easier, allowing organisations to create a full research brief in 20 minutes and get the findings back in as little as 48 hours. What’s more, results are delivered in a tailored, interactive dashboard, ready to be shared, so organisations can spend less time on admin and more time on action. 

  

For more information, visit: https://www.streetbees.com/sbx 

 

Elon Musk says DEI “must die”: Is he right?

The ever-vocal Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla Inc. and owner of social media platform X (formerly Twitter), has a penchant for making headlines. Most recently, the controversial billionaire has come under fire — and praise, in some circles — for his comments regarding DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).

In a post shared on X, Musk made the incendiary claim that “DEI must DIE.” At the time of writing, the comment has received some 35.5m views and sparked a sprawling debate across X and wider factions of the web. But what’s the rationale behind this contentious viewpoint? Does it hold water or is it just a catchy decree to earn social media clout? Let’s unpack.

What is DEI?

Before we explore the implications of Musk’s comments and the context that surrounds them, let’s discuss DEI – an acronym that refers to Diversity, Equality (or Equity) and Inclusion. It’s a framework for the practices and standards within organisations that help to make environments where people of any diverse background feel valued, respected, and included.

Diversity refers to the differences that exist between each person’s identity. HR experts from Workable advise that “it encompasses cultural, racial, religious, age, gender, sexual orientation, and disability differences”, among other characteristics.

Equality focuses on ensuring fair treatment for all individuals and strives to create a level playing field for everyone to succeed. Equity on the other hand focuses on addressing the systemic barriers that disproportionately affect marginalised communities.

Inclusion involves creating a culture where each person belonging to diverse groups feels seen, heard, and welcomed. In an inclusive workplace, diverse individuals are fully empowered to contribute their unique perspectives, with exclusionary practices dismantled.

What are the benefits of DEI schemes?

Many businesses employ DEI schemes to help bolster DEI efforts internally, led either by the HR faculty within an organisation or by an external provider that provides DEI resources and training.

DEI schemes have been demonstrated in various literature to be good for business. As DEI consultants from EW Group put it, “a focus on workplace diversity and inclusion will not only ensure a happier and more engaged workforce, a greater diversity of thought and innovation, and better in-depth understanding of customers and their priorities, it will directly affect an organisation’s bottom line.” Let’s take a look at how.

1.     A variety of perspectives

Diverse teams bring a broader range of viewpoints and experiences to the table, leading to more innovative solutions and improved decision-making. This can foster stronger products, services, and marketing strategies that resonate with wider customer segments. Research from Cloverpop shows that inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time.

2.     Deeper customer understanding

A diverse workforce fosters a deeper understanding of diverse customer needs and preferences. This allows companies to cater to niche markets more effectively, create more inclusive products and services, and ultimately, attract and retain a wider customer base.

3.     Improved talent acquisition and retention

Top talent seeks out companies that embrace inclusivity and offer growth opportunities. DEI initiatives attract a wider pool of qualified candidates, reduce employee turnover, and create a more positive employer brand, ultimately leading to a more skilled and motivated workforce.

4.     Boosted employee engagement

When employees feel valued, respected, and heard, they’re more likely to be engaged and productive. DEI fosters a sense of belonging, psychological safety, and collaboration, leading to increased commitment, innovation, and overall organisational success.

Where does Elon Musk come into it?

Elon Musk’s recent condemnation of DEI saw the billionaire declare, drenched in facetious wordplay, that DEI “must DIE”. With a simple post, one of the largest corporate moguls in the world gave credence to the thinking that DEI schemes are discriminatory.

The argument, with its sentiments echoed by far-right reactionaries like Ben Shapiro and Tomi Lahren, posits that while DEI schemes were originally intended to ‘end’ discrimination, they now perpetuate it by disadvantaging non-marginalised groups. Many have painted DEI as a leftist plot to undermine white men in the name of equality, with nearly 70% feeling “forgotten” by DEI, Forbes reports, according to the “White Men’s Leadership Study”.

What’s the verdict?

However, it’s crucial to unpack Musk’s claims and understand the broader context of DEI. Firstly, his “DIE” comment erases the genuine need to address historical and ongoing discrimination faced by marginalised groups. One in five employees have faced discrimination at work, found market research provider Savanta, in a survey of the UK, US, France, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

While some DEI implementations might face challenges, dismissing the entire concept based on concerns about unintended consequences undermines the very real need for systemic change. Change on a fundamental level can shift the dial further towards safety, comfort, and happiness for all workers.

Secondly, the assertion that DEI programmes discriminate against specific groups lacks evidence. The focus is often on ensuring equal opportunities, not guaranteeing outcomes. This can involve actively recruiting from underrepresented groups historically excluded from certain fields, but it doesn’t mean qualified individuals from any background are disadvantaged.

As recruitment automation platform HireQuotient puts it, “sourcing diverse candidates is about ensuring that a company’s workforce reflects the diversity of its customer base and the community in which they operate. It is not about discriminating against non-diverse candidates or giving preference to diverse candidates.”

Ultimately, framing the issue as a binary choice between diversity and meritocracy is misleading. A diverse workforce doesn’t inherently compromise competence. Studies show it can lead to better decision-making, innovation, and ultimately, improved performance.

Musk’s comments and the movement they reflect raise important questions about the implementation and potential pitfalls of DEI initiatives. If any approach were to go entirely unchallenged, we would be a society devoid of critical thought. But it’s equally as important to avoid the oversimplification and demonisation that statements like “…must DIE” invoke. Open and nuanced dialogue, grounded in facts and evidence, is crucial to ensure DEI efforts evolve and create truly inclusive and equitable outcomes for all.

Norfolk housebuilder’s employee advocates diversity for International Women’s Day

A Commercial Manager working for Norfolk developer Barratt and David Wilson Homes Anglia has highlighted her experiences of diversity for International Women’s Day (8th March).

This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme, #InspireInclusion, envisions a world where gender equality flourishes, free from bias, stereotypes, or discrimination. It’s a vision of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive society where differences are not only accepted, but celebrated.

Sian Tinkler (36), who joined the developer’s team as a Senior Surveyor in June 2022 and swiftly climbed to the role of Commercial Manager, reflects on her experience with diversity in the industry.

Based at the developer’s regional office in Norwich, Sian’s role as a Commercial Manager involves overseeing her team’s operations, collaborating with other departments to meet objectives, and proactively addressing challenges.

Drawn to the dynamic and rewarding nature of the housebuilding industry, Sian notes a positive shift in diversity during her tenure and acknowledges that progress continues to unfold.

She said: “While historically the construction industry has been perceived as male-dominated, I believe that there has been a positive shift over time.

“A greater effort is being made to encourage diversity and gender equality, although there is still progress to be made. It’s important for the industry to continue to promote inclusivity and break down gender stereotypes.”

Sian believes there are many ways for employers to create a diverse workspace and #InspireInclusion amongst employees.

She added: “The best ways for an employer to inspire inclusion are by fostering a culture of diversity, providing training on unconscious bias, promoting open communication, and actively encouraging diversity in leadership roles. Establishing mentorship programs and creating a supportive work environment are also effective measures.

“When it comes to Barratt and David Wilson Homes, our team is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace. This includes initiatives such as diversity training, mentorship programs, and actively encouraging a culture of openness and respect.

“I believe this contributes to creating an environment where differences are valued and celebrated.”

Recognising the significance of encouraging more women to enter traditionally male-dominated sectors, Sian underscores the invaluable contributions that women bring to the construction industry.

She said: “It’s important to provide and promote opportunities for women, as women bring unique perspectives and skills that contribute to the industry’s success.

“I believe that Barratt and David Wilson Homes offers excellent support and opportunities for women in the construction industry. The team really values diversity and actively works towards creating an inclusive workplace.”

When asked for her advice to give to women who are considering a career within the construction industry, Sian said: “My advice is to embrace the challenges, be confident in your abilities, and seek out mentorship opportunities. Don’t be afraid to voice your ideas and contribute to the team. The construction industry is evolving, and your unique perspective is a valuable asset.”

For more information about the career opportunities available at Barratt and David Wilson Homes, visit the website at Barratt Careers.

For details about any developments in the county, visit the websites at Barratt Homes in Norfolk and David Wilson Homes in Norfolk.

Relative privilege in UK industry is now a ticking time bomb

“The Post Office scandal screams of relative privilege and clearly demonstrates how UK industry is sitting on a ticking time bomb if companies do nothing to address it.”  

That’s the view of leading think tank and diversity, equity and inclusion organisation, Belonging Pioneers, whose work and ongoing research is now shining a major spotlight on privilege in relation to systemic corporate attitudes, discriminatory cultural behaviours, and the need for UK employers to make rapid and significant changes.

Research evidence collated by the organisation[1] shows that out of 40 companies surveyed, a staggering 92% of employees have or are currently experiencing relative privilege at work, with 96% stating that it is also used to gain clear advantage. Approximately 83% of employees said they felt undervalued or demotivated when privilege is used against them.

58% of those asked thought privilege was mostly unconscious or unintentional on the part of their employer. However, 42% also said that privilege was used intentionally, was embedded in the workplace, and was very much a negative aspect of our culture.

Furthermore, 76% of respondents thought privilege was having a negative impact on an organisation’s overall performance, with 14% believing the impact to be high. This is leading directly to a loss of productivity, reduced motivation and wavering staff loyalty, and for UK business leaders, employers and industry groups, such results should be an urgent wake-up call.

Ishreen Bradley, Chief Inspiration Officer at Belonging Pioneers, explained, “Relative privilege in the workplace is often at the very core of business activities where uneducated beliefs, outdated ways of working, bad judgement and toxic behaviours can go unchallenged through fear, denial, acceptance or an uneven power balance. The Post Office scandal is, unfortunately, a very fitting, timely yet perfect example of ‘privilege eruption’ whereby corporate bad practices and failures to address the relative privilege that is deep rooted in these organisations, has come to the fore and had catastrophic results on both sides. Sadly, for the postmasters and mistresses, the extremely negative and long-lasting effects are now very clear for all to see.

“Even more recent developments demonstrate how privilege is continuing to play out, despite the global spotlight, negative attention and reputational exposure that the various organisations involved have received. The less than satisfactory compensation offer given to former postmaster, Alan Bates, which he has called ‘offensive’ and since rejected, again is steeped in attitudes of unwavering power and privilege on the part of those ‘higher up the system’.

“In a wider sense, and whether done knowingly or unknowingly, UK businesses must now wake up. Companies really need to better educate themselves and start discussions internally around this specific issue in order to rebalance relative privilege and mitigate against eruption. Ignoring this problem will only risk serious consequences and therefore it cannot be underestimated.”

Relative privilege is mostly perceived and acknowledged as being ‘someone’ (or a body or institution) that possesses and uses factors such as status, power, beliefs, wealth, race, gender, ability and more to gain advantage at multiple levels over others. In business, it is not seen as unique or separate to an organisation’s culture.

Furthermore, and often surprisingly, firms who consider themselves to have positive and progressive diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) policies in place can still demonstrate high levels of relative privilege in operational and day-to-day activities. It is estimated that less than 30% of businesses have implemented a value-driven, integrated approach to privilege in existing strategies.

The forthcoming ‘Balancing the Scales’ event (Wednesday 21 February), hosted by Belonging Pioneers at The Leadenhall Building in London, is hoping to attract many company representatives from across the country’s public and private sector, as well as third sector organisations, to learn, participate and engage in such discussion.

Ishreen added, “Companies may believe they have the correct policies in place, but specifically addressing privilege is often missed due to a lack of understanding and awareness. We need to encourage deeper thought and wider collaborative discussion across all industries, and get a very open conversation going to help deliver change.

“Putting it bluntly, companies identified as being more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors[2], so aside from having a responsibility to staff to deliver equity and social governance, why would employers not take this matter more seriously? It’s a catalyst which could also have huge financial benefits in terms of growth, increased productivity and greater staff retention.

“Embracing inclusivity is an ongoing, proactive process for individuals and businesses alike, but by acknowledging that relative privilege and bias can exist in many different ways, UK organisations can make huge strides forward. By opening up this dialogue now, they can start the journey to become better employers and do the right thing.”

The Balancing the Scales event includes a host of keynote speakers and leaders in their field from sports, law and construction amongst others. More information can be found at Balancing The Scales (belongingpioneers.com) and tickets for purchase can be found via Eventbrite at: Balancing The Scales 2024 – How to put More ‘S’ into your ‘ESG’ Tickets, Wed 21 Feb 2024 at 17:30 | Eventbrite

[1] Data figures from Relative Privilege Impact Report 2023 (Belonging Pioneers)

[2] Resources: Builtin, McKinsey, BCG, HBR 

Photo: Ishreen Bradley, Chief Inspiration Officer at Belonging Pioneers whose ‘Balancing the Scales’ event (Leadenhall Building, London – 21/02) is looking to educate and support UK organisations and business leaders in changing relative privilege in the workplace.

 

Sean Fletcher praises the ‘spark’ ignited as he reveals 2023 Inclusive Awards winners

TV presenter and diversity champion Sean Fletcher acknowledged and praised inclusive employers as he revealed the winners of the prestigious 2023 Inclusive Awards at the Hurlingham Club on Tuesday December 5, 2023.

Hosted in London for the first time, the Inclusive Awards – organised by Inclusive Companies and sponsored by EON and Emcor UK – is the only awards ceremony that rewards organisations and individuals for harnessing a truly diverse workforce.  It recognises the significant efforts of those who have excelled in their commitment to equality and inclusion across all strands of diversity.

Best known for presenting on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and the BBC’s Countryfile, Sunday Morning Live and Songs of Praise, Sean hosted the Inclusive Awards in 2019 and was delighted to return to the role this year.

“The Inclusive Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate those individuals and organisations who have done so well this year,” says Sean. “More importantly, this event acts as a spark of inspiration for others to see what can be achieved and is hugely encouraging for others looking to bring about positive change in attitudes, behaviours and outcomes in their own circles.

“It’s an honour for me to be on the stage meeting those people who have put so much into their work and rewarding them for their outstanding achievements,” continues Sean. “I love the way the Inclusive Awards bring together so many people doing such great work: the atmosphere in the room is electric, full of energy and respect for everyone who is playing their part in promoting diversity and inclusion.”

Entries to the eight categories were assessed by an esteemed independent panel of judges from diverse cultural and business backgrounds. Together they looked beyond policies and practices to identify those individuals and organisations who could demonstrate they have achieved true diversity, inclusion, equality and equity in their workplace or community. A Highly Commended Award was also given in each category.

2023 Inclusive Awards Winners

Head of Diversity & Inclusion Award

  • WINNER – Liz Douglas, Anglo American
  • Highly Commended – Joanne Conway, DLP Piper

 

Chief Executive of the Year Award

  • WINNER – Stuart Love, Westminster City Council
  • Highly Commended – Andy Briggs MBE, The Phoenix Group

 

D&I Consultancy of the Year Award

  • WINNER – Equality Leaders
  • Highly Commended – Diverse Educators

 

D&I Tech Initiative Award

  • WINNER – myGwork
  • Highly Commended – Global Equality Collective

 

Inclusive Culture Initiative Award

  • WINNER – Metro Bank
  • Highly Commended – Auto Trader

 

Outstanding Diversity Network Award

  • WINNER – Aviva Origins
  • Highly Commended – University of Sunderland – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Staff

 

Social Mobility Project Award

  • WINNERMigrant Leaders
  • Highly Commended – Greene King

 

Diversity Team of the Year Award

  • WINNER – HSBC UK Inclusion Team
  • Highly Commended – Anglo American EDI Team

 

Lifetime Achiever

  • Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE

“The Inclusive Awards is always such a positive and feel-good evening,” says Paul Sesay, CEO of Inclusive Companies and Founder of the Inclusive Awards. “Now in its ninth year, it never fails to make me feel both humbled and proud to witness the immense efforts and achievements of people and organisations taking giant steps to make their workplace, communities and wider society more inclusive and equitable.

“We know that encouraging and embracing an inclusive working environment brings business and market advantages but it is imperative to look beyond these more obvious benefits to understand and believe that true diversity, inclusion and equity shape and build communities that make everyone stronger. At a time when across the world we are witnessing tragedies born out of an inability to accept diversity and be inclusive, it is never more important to acknowledge how fortunate we are to be able to foster positive change through our own actions.”

For more details of the 2023 winners of the Inclusive Awards, visit:

https://inclusiveawards.com/2023winners/

How to make events truly inclusive

In the ever-evolving landscape of business meetings and events, one word stands out: inclusivity. Recognising and respecting the diversity of an audience, whether in terms of background, ability, gender, age, or any other characteristic is crucial in today’s events world. Creating an environment where every delegate feels welcomed, valued, and able to fully participate should be every event organiser’s priority, according to Danielle Bounds, Sales Director at ICC Wales.

Here are some of Danielle’s top tips on how to incorporate inclusivity into events and the benefits this can bring, from fostering innovation and broadening audiences, to enhancing the delegate experience in order to create impactful and memorable events.

 

  1. Venue selection

Inclusivity is not an optional add-on; it is a fundamental element that demonstrates the delegate is front of mind, and applies throughout the planning process and from the moment they leave their home, to the days and weeks after the event. This all starts with the choice of venue. Ensuring that there are accessible travel and parking options as well as working ramps, lifts, and reserved seating, will help delegates feel comfortable navigating the venue, enabling them to truly focus on the event’s content and connections. ICC Wales’ ‘Changing Places, Changing Lives’ initiative ensures that people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well people with other physical disabilities have the space and amenities they need. Events can also embrace neurodiversity and create parent and child areas; at ICC Wales we are fortunate to have woodland right outside the venue to add sensory and wellbeing experiences.

 

  1. Using technology

Not everyone is comfortable sitting in an auditorium or meeting room for a long session so technology can be used to reach a wider audience. SQL Bits, the largest Data Platform conference in Europe who held their event at ICC Wales in March this year, recognised that not everyone wanted to sit in a busy session room throughout the day. So, they explored alternative methods and streamed sessions onto big screens in the exhibition hall, where delegates could listen with headphones and enjoy the sessions at their own pace, in their own space. Interactive virtual components such as live chat or Q&A sessions, which enhance a culture of knowledge sharing and networking opportunities, help foster inclusivity in the world of events.

 

  1. Inclusive communication

Effective communication is the backbone of any event: when attendees can easily understand and engage with event information, they are more likely to have a positive experience. Considering the audience and their needs when it comes to marketing materials, signage, and announcements is key, and SQL Bits executed this well during this year’s data conference by including clear, concise signage and keeping their breakout sessions close to the main exhibition hall. They also incorporated British Sign Language (BSL) sessions as part of their event to encourage networking in a fun and accessible way.

 

  1. Diverse speaker line up

A diverse line up of speakers is not just a checkbox; it’s a cornerstone of inclusivity. Seeking out speakers from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives not only enriches the content but also makes attendees feel represented and heard. It demonstrates an event organisers’ commitment to embracing different voices within the industry. The SQL Bits Data Platform Conference featured a large and diverse range of speakers, including women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. By promoting a broad range of voices, the team showcased the importance of inclusivity and offered attendees the opportunity to connect with a broad spectrum of industry experts.

 

  1. Concentrate on community

I have often shared my thoughts on how the terminology surrounding events can be adapted to be more inclusive, such as referring to it as a ‘community’ rather than an ‘audience.’ Event organisers can begin thinking of attendees as a wider community who have come together for a shared experience, each with individual needs, as opposed to delegates who are just gathering for an event. This sense of community was seen at SQLBits through their Bits Buddies programme, where volunteers were available to buddy up with delegates who might be flying solo and needed a little extra support.

 

  1. Sensory inclusivity

Addressing sensory needs can be often overlooked, but it is a key ingredient of inclusive events. Creating designated quiet spaces and equipping them with sensory tools such as noise-cancelling headphones or fidget toys allows attendees who need a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy event to feel relaxed and valued. During the SQL Bits conference, sensory-friendly spaces were provided and equipped with sensory tools and comfortable seating, allowing everyone to participate fully and comfortably in the event.

 

  1. Inclusive catering

When it comes to conference catering, standards are continuously being raised to cater to a variety of dietary options, preferences, and allergies. While offering vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, halal, and kosher choices are a must, inclusivity in the dining hall means more than just ingredients. Opting for bowl food service can be a sure way to avoid lengthy queues and the inevitable frustrations and stress caused by standing in them, allowing delegates to further relax, network, and really enjoy their break.

 

  1. Feedback and continuous improvement

Inclusivity is an ongoing journey, not a destination, and when it’s woven into the fabric of an event, its impact can be far greater than the event itself. Creating a safe space for open discussions about inclusivity, such as post-event online forums, and actively seeking feedback from attendees can benefit event organisers in two ways. Opportunities for open and honest feedback helps identify areas for improvement, as well as fostering a sense of trust and loyalty among the community when they see their feedback has led to positive change. As part of this process, the SQL Bits event encouraged all attendees to write their own blogs that were shared publicly.

Cardiff Celebrates First Milestone Diversity Conference with Huge Success

Cardiff City Hall was abuzz on September 18, 2023, as attendees gathered for the debut of the ‘Mastering Diversity’ conference. This landmark event has been widely acclaimed, solidifying its place in Wales’s history as a crucial platform for championing diversity, equality, and inclusion.
Brainchild of Bernie Davies, a multi award-winning entrepreneur, author, and diversity advocate, the conference drew a varied mix of participants. Leaders from both the public and business realms convened to share insights and deliberate on the fundamental aspects of diversity within Welsh society.
The conference was inaugurated with a stirring speech by the First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS. Following him were other distinguished voices including Michelle Morris, Gus Williams, and Professor Meena Upadhyaya OBE from Cardiff University. Notably, a special video message from Jane Hutt MS, due to her unanticipated absence, reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s dedication to their Anti-Racism Action Plan and other diversity initiatives.
An array of afternoon presentations commenced with Vaughan Gething MS’s support message, succeeded by insights from Duchess Nivin of Lamberton, Margaret Ali, Dee Llewellyn, and Rob Edwards, among others.
Inclusion means different things to different groups – for example, race, disability, LGBTQ, neurodiversity and so on – Bernie’s firm philosophy is that EVERY group should feel and be included, both in society and in the workplace.  Her take on it, the title of her latest book release, is “We go together, or not at all!”  It’s a mantra that was welcomed by the audience.
Attendees were treated to various sessions and seminars, diving deep into topics like cultural diversity, neurodiversity, gender equality, and more. This inclusive environment fostered by the ‘Mastering Diversity’ conference was further enriched with the presence of exhibitors like Adoption UK, Women’s Equality Network, Microsoft and Princes Trust.
Behind the successful event stood the solid support of sponsors such as NatWest, Bevan Buckland LLP, Transport for Wales, S4C and BBC, to name a few. They hosted thematic zones, amplifying discussions from business diversity benefits to neurodiverse individuals’ challenges.
The resounding success of this premiere event has fuelled Bernie Davies’s ambition to make it an annual affair, continuously promoting progress in diversity within Wales. The Welsh Government, via its official Twitter, lauded the event, quoting they were, “Proud to witness history.”
Already a leading figure in Wales’ business world, Bernie Davies is well known for her impact on multiple sectors, from universities to the Welsh Government Accelerator programme, and Bernie is an in-demand keynote speaker at national and global events.  However, the new diversity conference is something she takes particular pride in – and looks forward to hosting in future years.
Expressing her gratitude and excitement, Bernie Davies remarked:
“This inaugural Mastering Diversity conference was a testament to Wales’s drive for significant dialogues and decisive actions in the realm of diversity. The unity showcased by everyone involved is overwhelming. My profound appreciation to our speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and participants for making this a standout event. This conference has paved the way, and I am hopeful for what lies ahead. Together, we are embarking on crafting a Wales that champions diversity in every facet.”

International Women In Engineering Day: Working In Water As A Woman Is A Secure And Lifelong Career

International Women in Engineering Day is upon us again and reminds us to celebrate the fantastic women excelling in their fields.

Over the last decade, engineering and broader STEM has been a much more attractive proposition for young women embarking on their careers than ever before. But we must do more to create balance and encourage more women into the sector.

What better way to do this than to meet the amazing women doing incredible jobs in the sector to hear about their experiences?

 

Meet: Holly Palmer, Contracts Manager at Alpheus Environmental

 

What is your current role, and how did you get there?

“I am Contracts Manager at Alpheus Environmental. I began my career at Alpheus at 16 years old where I was Helpdesk Co-ordinator and promoted to Helpdesk Manager a few years later. I then began a more technical role and have been in my current role for nearly 10 years.”

 

What does a typical workday look like for you?

“As my title suggests, I am responsible for the day-to-day delivery of our contracts, coordinating a growing team of field engineers on sites and across the business. My role is to ensure we deliver everything we are contractually obliged to, whilst working closely with our customers to evolve and improve any element of the contract as the relationship evolves.”

Was it always your dream to get into a role in the engineering sector?

“It would be safe to say it wasn’t my dream to get into this or any other engineering role if I am being honest. I left school and moved on to my A Levels. I had no idea what I really wanted to do, had no distinct long-term plan. At the time I recruited for Alpheus I was still studying for my A-Levels, I was speaking to the lady I was babysitting for about not being sure that A-Levels were right for me at the time, and she mentioned that there was a job going at Alpheus if I wanted to take a break from studying for a while.

“I got the job. I started a week later. My view was that I would spend a year in the job, bank some money and return to my A Levels. That didn’t quite go to plan, I was engrained in the businesses working with amazing colleagues – several women – and growing my knowledge of wastewater and water recycling. I became invested and was subsequently promoted in 2008 to Supervisor and was suddenly managing people older than myself. I had carved myself a career and didn’t need to return to my A Levels, but thanks to Alpheus financially supporting my I did a HNC in Business, and then I funded a HND myself remotely to.”

 

Did you worry about, or have you experienced, any issues being a woman in your role?

“I wouldn’t say I was worried about any issues I may face; I would have just considered it a challenge. My gender does not define my abilities, and thanks to the support of my team, the vast majority being men, I have been able to do my job without my gender even being considered. Likewise with our customers, I don’t face any misogyny. Not to say it wasn’t present in the past. There have been a few times where I have advised on the telephone and given my expert opinion, only for the contact to get in touch with a male colleague – in the same office – to get their opinion. It is hard to put into words the feelings this rose in me. But rather than let it define me, I just continue to give my opinion and use my knowledge and to prove my credentials. Someone coming into the industry, especially young women, may find some things a little awkward. For instance, some of the older generation may refer to you as ‘darling’ or ‘sweetheart’. But honestly, it doesn’t mean anything. Its cultural and I know there is nothing behind it. These same men trust my opinions, work hard in the team.”

 

Have you met or worked with other influential women in engineering who inspire you?

“I began my career working with several great women on the helpdesk and I looked up to them all. I learned so much from them, and they had been working on a majority male environment longer than myself. Every woman that works at the company is great. We have some highly intelligent people – one of my colleagues has a doctorate in Wastewater Management – and she blows my mind with her knowledge. We have women of all walks of life working at Alpheus, these women have incredible knowledge and experience in their individual roles, and they are all fundamental to a successful team.

 

What can the engineering sector do to inspire and attract young women to the profession?

“It stems from school age, initially. Career days we would learn about roles such as nurses or police officers, often parents of a pupil. You would never see anyone from STEM careers. I think it would be great if Alpheus and similar companies could spend the time visiting schools and promoting the sector. I also think school tours – small groups for no more than half an hour – are a great way of building excitement in what we do, especially at primary school age when their curiosity is building. We can’t deny that to children poo is funny. My niece calls where I work the ‘Poo Office’. But starting from something funny and giggly like poo and showing how we convert that to clean and clear water, seems magic. Its exciting. It is a great way to get them engaged.

“One final thing to say is to the board and managers of all STEM companies; you need more female representation at that level, certainly in decision making. As time progresses, we will see more women in senior positions, but in the short term if you are planning to make changes to policies or working practices, make sure women have a say. It’s the only way to prove how dedicated we are to equality.”

Nurturing diversity – strategies for recruiting diverse talent.

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, organisations are increasingly recognising the value of diversity in their workforce.

Former ASDA boss and prolific company chairman, Allan Leighton, argues management teams should focus on recruiting the best brains because that will deliver a business advantage. High-performance companies are blind to factors such as age, gender, sexuality or race.

Companies that embrace diversity benefit from a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas, leading to enhanced creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. However, building a diverse talent pool requires proactive strategies and a commitment to inclusivity throughout the recruitment process. Here, Sam Hameed, co-founder and managing director of SPG Resourcing, shares practical tips and insights to help organisations successfully recruit and retain diverse talent.

 

  1. Cultivate an inclusive employer brand: To attract a diverse pool of candidates, organisations must establish an inclusive employer brand. This involves showcasing diversity and inclusion efforts on the company website, social media platforms, and other relevant channels. Highlight employee resource groups, diversity initiatives, and success stories that demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace. Consider how attractive a booze-fuelled work party will be to a non-drinker.
  2. Build diverse talent networks: Networking is pivotal in recruiting diverse talent. Attend industry-specific conferences, job fairs, and community events that cater to diverse professionals. Establish partnerships with diversity-focused organisations and educational institutions to tap into their talent pools. Develop mentorship programs that connect employees from underrepresented groups with potential candidates.
  3. Craft inclusive job descriptions: Job descriptions should use inclusive language that appeals to a wide range of candidates. Avoid gender-coded language and jargon that may deter qualified individuals. Focus on the core competencies required for the role rather than strict qualifications, as this allows for a broader and more diverse applicant pool. Additionally, consider the impact of implicit biases in the language used and aim for neutrality and inclusivity throughout the job description.
  4. Implement blind hiring practices: Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, can hinder diversity efforts during the hiring process. Implement blind hiring practices by removing identifying information such as names, gender, and educational institutions from resumes and application materials. This approach enables recruiters to evaluate candidates solely based on their skills, experiences, and qualifications, reducing unconscious biases.
  5. Diverse interview panels: Create diverse interview panels that reflect the company’s commitment to inclusivity. Include individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and levels within the organisation. A diverse panel sends a strong signal to candidates that the company values diversity and ensures a broader range of perspectives during the evaluation process.
  6. Provide diversity training for hiring managers: Hiring managers should undergo diversity and inclusion training to understand the importance of creating an inclusive workplace and the potential impact of their decisions during the recruitment process. These training sessions can raise awareness of unconscious biases, help managers recognise their own blind spots, and equip them with the tools to assess candidates based on their skills and potential.
  7. Foster inclusive onboarding and retention programs: Once diverse talent is recruited, it is crucial to have comprehensive onboarding programs that create a sense of belonging and support. Establish mentorship programs, employee resource groups, and affinity networks to facilitate networking and provide ongoing support. Regularly assess employee engagement and satisfaction to identify any potential barriers or challenges and take proactive steps to address them.

Recruiting and retaining diverse talent requires a holistic approach that goes beyond mere diversity quotas. Organisations need to foster an inclusive culture, starting from the recruitment process and continuing throughout an employee’s tenure.

By actively cultivating an inclusive employer brand, building diverse talent networks, employing blind hiring practices, and investing in diversity training, organisations can attract, retain, and benefit from a diverse workforce. Embracing diversity not only enhances business outcomes but also contributes to a more equitable and inclusive society.

 

Government’s new autism employment review a step in the right direction says Career Accelerator

The government has just launched a review designed to boost the employment prospects of autistic people and to spread opportunity, close the employment gap and grow the economy. It will focus on supporting employers to recruit and retain autistic people and reap benefits of a neurodiverse workforce[i].

Mayur Gupta, CEO at Career Accelerator, a leading UK education business, said: “We very much welcome this review as a positive step forward in helping autistic people gain better working opportunities and the chance to succeed in their chosen careers. Businesses can benefit enormously from having a more diverse workforce and bringing in the unique skills and experiences that autistic and neurodiverse people have. Unfortunately, many autistic people can still find it tough to access work and are simply not given the chances that many neurotypical workers have.”

People with autism have particularly low employment rates – with fewer than three in 10 in work[ii]. It is estimated that around 1 in 7 people (more than 15% of people in the UK) are neurodivergent[iii] with a range of conditions including autism, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Career Accelerator is focused on improving the lives of neurodiverse people with its ‘Neurodiversity and disability’ programme which connects neurodiverse students with businesses to provide mentoring and work experience opportunities.

The aim is to help businesses build more diverse talent pipelines and support young people aged 14-25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to prepare for careers in the professional sectors through mentorship with employees at leading companies.

Centrica, Cisco, LinkedIn and Pearson have all taken part in the programme, with their employees mentoring neurodiverse and disabled young people.

 

Centrica took part in the three-month programme with employees mentoring students from the Tower School in Essex, which provides specialised education for young people with autism and associated conditions. They plan to run the programme twice this year.

One of the mentors from Centrica said: “Being able to see first-hand the difference you can make to how someone feels when applying for jobs and knowing that I have been able to contribute to a positive experience has been really impactful. I’m really proud that this is something Centrica recognises is worth investing colleague’s time on – it’s really important to invest in future generations and people outside of the organisation.”

 

Pearson also took part with employees mentoring students who are neurodivergent to help them learn about business and prepare for their future careers. The mentees were assigned to Pearson mentors who were also neurodivergent or highly experienced in neurodiversity.

Kevin Lyons, Senior HR Manager at Pearson said, “We participated in the Career Accelerator programme with our employees as mentors to expand their knowledge and understanding of neurodiversity while also benefiting from mentoring young neurodivergent people. By embracing neurodiversity, we aim to attract and retain a diverse neuro inclusive workforce and foster a culture where everyone can thrive. Since the programme, we have changed our recruitment processes to ensure we can attract more people who neurodiverse.”

 

Mayur Gupta adds: “The feedback from the programme has been tremendous from both the companies involved and the mentees. We hope that through the work we do, and now with the government review, things will improve for people with autism and other disorders. Often businesses don’t know how to engage neurodiverse people even though they recognise it would be beneficial. Our programme makes this easier and we recommend other firms looking to get involved with our mentorship programme to get in touch.”

For more information on Career Accelerator visit: www.careeraccelerator.io

 

[i] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-review-to-boost-employment-prospects-of-autistic-people

[ii] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-review-to-boost-employment-prospects-of-autistic-people

[iii] https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/news/new-guidance-neurodiversity-in-the-workplace#:~:text=it%20is%20estimated%20that%20around,%2C%20Autism%2C%20Dyslexia%20and%20Dyspraxia.