By Julia-Anne Dix, IoD Jersey Diversity sub-committee chairwoman and Kiley Henley-Thomas, vice-chairwoman
MOST, although sadly not all, of the world has come a long way in gender equality since the first International Women’s Day was observed in 1911.
There has also been a big shift in awareness of the issues around diversity, inclusion and equality in the world of business. It is not a box-ticking exercise to make your company look as though it is playing its role and it is not about employing or promoting women just to make up the numbers.
There is a very real correlation between diversity and the success of your business. Whether it is financial performance, innovation and creativity or even workplace communications, to name but a few, these are all improved with a diverse workforce.
McKinsey’s 2018 report, Delivering Through Diversity, looked at 1,000 companies and found they were increasingly seeing inclusion and diversity as ‘a source of competitive advantage, and specifically as a key enabler of growth’.
There are many studies like the McKinsey one that support the benefits to a company’s bottom line – and ultimately the economy – in having diversity. A Boston Consulting Group and Technical University of Munich study, for example, found that innovation jumped once the proportion of female managers within an organisation rose above 20%.
Gender equality is definitely not the only diversity factor that should be taken into consideration but, as it is International Women’s Day, it is what this article will focus on.
A diverse environment within a workplace has also been found to increase trust and openness in workgroup communications (SpringerPlus, June 2016). It goes without saying that if employees, whatever their gender or background, feel supported, they will work harder and benefit the company more.
The IoD Jersey’s Diversity sub-committee is working to support members in ensuring they are able to attract and retain the best talent possible through encouraging diversity. This isn’t just about head count, this has to go deeper and include workplace practices, opportunities, environment and empowering everyone to give their best to your business.
We have been delighted by the more than 75 companies and organisations which have already signed up to our Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Vision Statement, which has now been formalised into a charter. The aim is to promote and embed progressive diversity and inclusion activities across all Jersey organisations, small as well as large.
The charter is built on the following principles for an inclusive workplace:
•Everyone should feel they belong.
•Everyone should have the opportunity to thrive.
•We should all treat others fairly and inclusively.
•Discrimination and bias should be challenged.
•Inclusion is at the heart of great leadership.
•Organisations should be courageous in challenging the status quo.
Although these underlying principles are universal, the charter itself is not prescriptive. The solutions will be different for every organisation and so the examples of good practice included in each stage of the charter are intended to provide employers with practical ideas and inspiration rather than a set route.
We hope the charter will bring our members together to discuss and debate ‘what works’, and to support each other in our collective journey to greater inclusion across the whole of our business community. We need this now more than ever. It’s been a tough year for most people but we know that certain sectors of industry, such as retail, hospitality, beauty and hairdressing, have been particularly badly hit by lockdowns.
These industries employ significantly more women, leading to the global Covid recession being called a shecession, as women have been much more heavily impacted by job losses. Add the increased childcare requirements from home-schooling, and the results are clear.
Our committee seeks to facilitate events which can inform and inspire you. We have one coming up on 25 March – a free webinar, Unlocking the Island’s Potential: Social Mobility, which encourages companies to create a workforce based on diverse talent rather than privilege.
The free event, sponsored by Mourant, features keynote speaker Sarah Atkinson, who is the chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation in England and Wales. She will be offering practical advice on how businesses can provide opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds to help create a diverse workforce.
Unlocking the Island’s Potential: Social Mobility (Live Stream) takes place on Thursday 25 March from 8.30am to 10.30am. For further information and to book, visit eventbrite.com/e/unlocking-the-islands-potential-social-mobility-live-stream-tickets-137286757387.
If you would like further information about the Jersey IoD Diversity and Inclusion Charter, visit iod.je or email firstname.lastname@example.org.