How can we adjust how we think about diversity? Diversity is currently dominated by gender, and there is so much going on in that space, which is fantastic, long may it continue, but there is a much wider issue we have to face together. It has been some time that I have been going into schools and talking to students and seeing just how different our working environments are from all of these back grounds.
It is an area that for me is important we begin to focus on more, we pay lip service to it right now, so here are some thoughts about where we can all start to adjust and plan for the future. We should ask ourselves the difficult questions about what we all stand for and whether we really want to drive change.
As a group of companies we need to set some new rules of engagement for the industry if we are going to initiate change. Some of the scenarios that would be fantastic to see change are the following:
- Hiring has to come from outside of Grads, every business should be creating plans to hire a number of school leavers every year and from non white middle class backgrounds, and definitely not related to the boss.
- Every organisation should think about the make up of what they are doing, my latest observation of MediaWeek judges all being white middle class people is an example, I am certain that someone ticked the gender diversity box but nothing else.
- Think about the sub sets of organisations – if you are promoting female diversity and there is a room full of 500 white middle class people, we should not be content with that, we should be supporting diversity within gender.
- If you are creating a List of important people then it should not be the same old, same old, there are talented people out there, we have to find them and create inspiration.
- If we look at panels, events etc all you see is the gender discussion – we need to think outside of that, we need to think about how the panels are made up to represent the world outside.
- Kill two birds with one stone – if you focus on helping under privileged schools rather than the usual grad schemes, you will naturally drive diversity of thinking and people.
It is at the grass roots we are failing – we are not bringing in enough talent early on, when we do it is really fulfilling. Our work placement programme is in its infancy but it only pulls from state schools to make sure we are creating opportunities. It is something I am hopeful we can continue to grow, I would encourage everyone to start these opportunities if you have not already.
Whether it is mentoring, helping organisations that are trying to do this, the industry press, the Twitter commentators, can we all start asking our self the question of whether what we are doing is either bringing in diverse talent, or inspiring it through highlighting the talent we already have in the business. This is not a rant, it is not a preach, it is a gentle call to arms. After my last blog and twitter engagements on mentoring, I know there is so much appetite to do better on this, but it feels on the fringe, so hoping mainstream industry can lead the charge. I am excited to try and do more after engaging with some of the organisations that contacted me earlier in the month, hopefully we all can do our bit.