Companies in the North East are leading the way in diversity, business chief says
CBI regional director Sarah Glendinning on the regional firms highlighting the benefits of diversity in the workplace
Last week I hosted a CBI roundtable with senior business leaders from the region to discuss the Gender Pay Gap.
If approved by Parliament in the coming months, the current Gender Pay reporting regulations will come into force in April 2017. Many companies – such as PwC and Virgin Money – have already taken steps to measure and report their gender pay data, and others are already aware of the changes that will come into force. At the CBI we are working hard to ensure all our members understand if and how they are going to be impacted and what steps they need to take.
The Gender Pay Gap is caused by a wide range of factors, and there is a long way to go to address these, but what fascinated me the most from the discussion was how businesses are already learning from the data they have and taking steps to approaches that can really change outcomes – such as the availability of childcare, looking closely at career progression and improved careers advice across the spectrum.
The conversation widened to cover broader diversity issues and inclusive workplaces. Guests spoke openly about their diversity programmes and work in the wider community to raise the aspirations of our young people.
This local insight chimed with results from our CBI/Pertemps Employment Trends Survey carried out late in 2016, which highlighted that many businesses are working hard to push diversity and inclusivity to the fore in their organisations.
Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents reported that a diverse and inclusive workforce is vital or important to the future success of their organisation. They report a range of benefits of inclusive workplace practices including increased skills (73%), attraction and retention of staff (60%) and engagement levels (46%).
The vast majority of companies (77%) have taken steps over the past five years to build more inclusive workplace, including action on flexible working opportunities (60%), training for line management (57%) and improving progression opportunities for staff (56%).
But challenges remain for many businesses (67%) with obstacles such as workplace culture and the mind-set of management yet to be overcome in introducing more inclusive workplace practices.
Inclusion is at the heart of boosting productivity because it helps ensure firms hire from a broad talent pool, and then help people give their best every day. Well-managed, engaged and supported staff are the key to boosting productivity, while boosting diversity often leads to better decision-making.
Inclusive workplaces are proven to bring benefits including increased talent and improved attraction and retention levels and having the right people with the right skills is crucial for any organisation’s performance.
Many firms don’t only see it as the right thing to do, they are already leading from the front with their great stories of the actions they are taking across the UK – and our guests last week are at the forefront right here in the North East.
- Sarah Glendinning is regional director of the CB