As an avid football fan, I’ve been reading a lot about the Raheem Sterling racism incident over the past week. Being a Manchester United supporter, it doesn’t come naturally to me to support somebody wearing the sky blue of City, but to see somebody receive vile racist abuse, for just doing their job is disgusting. But, unfortunately, not exactly surprising – anybody who follows the game knows that racist and homophobic abuse is commonplace in the stands. The whole incident started me thinking about, not just diversity in sport, but of the wider subject of diversity and inclusion in the workplace as a whole.
At Sparks and Jupiter, we’re lucky to have clients that are actively addressing any potential issues they may have from a diversity standpoint. And have worked with them to resolve these issues in their organisations by recruiting more diverse workforces, be they focused on gender, race, sexual orientation, social mobility or even people with tattoos, piercings and unconventional hair!
We have worked with blue-chip clients from O2 – recruiting more females into their store leadership roles, to Sainsbury’s – recruiting Fulfilment Centre staff in Bromley-by-Bow, an area of London with a large BAME population and high unemployment. We are also currently in the process of running Nestlé’s early careers campaign, where a major campaign goal was to attract applications from ethnic minorities and less affluent backgrounds – as well as increasing applications from women for their more technical schemes.
Companies like these are helping to level the playing field, but there is still a long way to go, a piece of research from Vercida showed that, despite over half of the UK’s population being female, only 23% of Board members are, likewise 1 in 6 of the population are from an ethnic minority or non-white background but 58% of FTSE 100 boards have no ethnic minority presence. It also screams of non-inclusive workplaces that 40% of gay and lesbian people are not ‘out’ at work.
Although some discrimination will be intentional, a lot of this will come down to unconscious bias – it’s a commonly known fact that recruiters usually hire people in their own mould. There are ways to combat this though, using diverse hiring panels is an obvious one, as well as auditing your hiring practises for implicit bias and training people on how to irradiate unconscious bias. We have also introduced psychometric testing, delivered via gamification for our clients. This creates a way of assessing a candidate’s fit for the role based purely on their behaviours and traits, rather than their name, race, gender or age.
Something else that we need to be aware of is the inclusion side of D&I. Most companies tend to concentrate on the diversity aspect: gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. However, it is also massively important to make sure all employees feel represented, included and valued, that policies exist for equality & human rights, working conditions are up to scratch, every employee has dignity at work, and more!
What happened to Raheem Sterling over the weekend was deplorable (as was the sight of somebody throwing a banana skin at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang earlier this month and hearing Chelsea fans singing anti-Semitic chants last week) but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, discrimination can still be a part of every day life for some minorities, and employers have an obligation – both legal and moral – to ensure that an employee’s workplace is free from any of these discriminations, as well as providing an overall inclusive working environment.
Not only is this the right thing to do (and can save an employer from legal headaches), but it’s also a business savvy thing to do too. Too many companies see Diversity & Inclusion as a box ticking exercise, but they can actually enhance a company’s financial performance. According to a report from Ernst & Young, companies that rate highly for racial & ethnic diversity and gender diversity are 35% more likely and 15% more likely respectively to have financial returns higher than the national median for their industry.
If you want to read more information on some of the D&I focussed campaigns we’ve run for clients, or have a chat about how we can help your organisation become more diverse and inclusive, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!