Janine Smith, growth services manager at Business Growth Hub, discusses the issue of diversity in the workplace, and the ways that North West companies can create opportunities for women.
Diversity in the workplace is an issue that has only grown in importance over the last few years, as companies continue to recognise the advantages of a representative workforce.
Adopting this policy has been proven to have benefits both in the workplace and beyond. When looking at your own business, having a diverse workplace creates an inherent environment of inclusiveness, where all employees feel equally valued. In addition, employing staff with a wide variety of experiences enables ideas to be shared and accepted more freely, enabling talent to be properly recognised and developed.
This extends out to recruitment policy, as an equal workforce ensures a strong position for the company to hire and retain staff in an increasingly diverse and competitive labour market.
In addition to making a difference to your office environment, having a diverse workforce offers a clear competitive advantage to businesses. These organisations will be well-placed to understand the needs of a wide range of customers, and can interact better with a broad client base. With individuals from different backgrounds also providing a unique take to problem solving or creativity, clients will also be exposed to a wider set of ideas and outputs. This should differentiate your business from the rest of the market.
With all of these benefits, it is surprising that businesses are still to fully adopt this. In terms of the representation of women in business, recent statistics taken from a wide range of companies showed that 31 per cent of women believe that men are offered greater opportunities at work, while statistics for ethnic minorities in the workplace, and particularly in the upper echelons, remain poor.
The solution to this problem is complex, with no current suggestion seen as being satisfactory.
Ultimately, a change in mindset is the first key step when looking to achieve equality. At Business Growth Hub, we have looked to apply this at the lowest level, championing female start-up entrepreneurs through our ‘Eveolution’ project. Delivered by our Digital Growth Team, Eveolution has provided over 500 women with the opportunity to learn the digital skills they need to build a profitable and successful business.
However, this is just the start, and we need more companies to practice what they preach by employing a more representative workforce. And with the benefits to business so obvious, why wouldn’t you?