There can be no denying that the workplace has changed considerably over the last twenty to thirty years. However, whether it has changed for the better is still open to interpretation. Jobs for life have gone and the move towards zero-hour contracts has created a degree of uncertainty among certain elements of the workforce.
Political earthquakes both in the UK and the United States have resulted in global nations becoming increasingly inward-looking, and as such, the onus is now very much on businesses and corporations to embrace a more outward-looking, fully inclusive approach.
With the future of tech and AI looking particularly bright, there is an opportunity for start-ups and entrepreneurs to really seize the initiative and lead the way in terms of redefining the workplace when it comes to diversity and cultural change. There is a clear gender imbalance to be addressed within the industry, with only 19% of the top 100 CIOs, for example, being female.
The fact that HR Magazine documented in October 2019 that a quarter of BAME staff are still encountering harassment at work is beyond staggering.
So, what can be done to make the changes that are needed?
What are the barriers preventing more women and people from minority groups blazing a trail? Is it a lack of skills or self-belief – or is there a perception still that they simply won’t fit in?
It is encouraging to note that CEO’s from leading global brands have actively been calling for more diversity within their sectors. It is only by tackling the issues head-on that problems will be solved and progress made.
If Brand Britain truly is to establish itself once again as a global leader, then we have to lead the way in having the most culturally diverse and inclusive workforce in the world. A workforce where the brightest and the best thrive – regardless as to their gender, their ethnicity or their sexuality.
The next generation
Just as AI will transform the workplace in the decades to come, then it is vital that businesses now begin to sow the seeds with the younger generation, the business leaders, programmers and tech entrepreneurs of the future. Initiatives such as the one run in schools in our Capital inviting students as young as nine and ten to submit suggestions as to how technology can be used to improve the lives of people living in London are really encouraging. But what about the regions? The Northern Powerhouse?
If London is now ‘the’ place in Europe for AI start-ups, what does the future hold for our great Northern cities? What about the young kids in Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle? By engaging them now, businesses large and small can not only make a difference to individual lives but create a dynamic, diverse workforce for the future.
So, what does an inclusive workplace look like?
At its most basic level, an inclusive workplace is one that makes all members of the team feel safe and welcome. It is a workplace that ‘walks the walk’ as well as ‘talking the talk.’ A workplace led by management that doesn’t simply extol the virtues of inclusivity but proves its commitment through action (and this doesn’t mean merely fulfilling their legal obligations by asking employees to read company policies).
We all have a moral duty as humans to treat each other with respect regardless as to race, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion or any other characteristic and an inclusive workplace should have no issues in retaining staff.
Carrying out an audit
It is never too late to step up and take action. Small adjustments to working practices and the environment in which teams work can make a huge difference to morale. While ensuring best practice when it comes to diversity should never be a box-ticking exercise, there is no harm in taking a good, hard look at your recruitment policies and the actual composition of your workforce. Getting a perfect balance can be difficult but if everyone in the office looks and talks in the same way, then surely, as a business you are missing out.
Central London (WFH), £300 p/d. Initial 3-6mth contract. Expected to roll.
Central London (WFH), £70k
Central London (WFH), £80k + Bens
Central London (WFH), to £35k + Excellent Bens. (Freelance £250 p/d).
Central London, £45k + Excellent Bens - 6 mth FTC (expected to roll to Perm)
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