National Inclusion Week 2018 is drawing to a close and so we thought we’d take the opportunity to ask a range of experts why inclusion in the workplace is a key issue, and to share with us examples of successful strategies such as inclusion networks.
Inclusive support and advice
A shortage of people working in digital and tech jobs has the potential to derail our journey towards a prosperous digital future. This shortage is partly due to a lack of awareness of the opportunities that exist, and the inaccurate perception that some groups, such as women or LGBT+ individuals, do not belong in the tech sector. We need to recognise that old-fashioned biases are still built into too many organisations and jobs. If we are to benefit from a diverse talent pool, organisations need to consciously create inclusive organisations where everyone can succeed. One way to deliver this is through the introduction of inclusion networks – for example, for women or those with disabilities – focused on enhancing the capacity of their employees so they can achieve their full potential and deliver what matters most. As it gives all employees a platform to feel included, networks are a vital way to ensure that specific people throughout the business receive the proper support and advice they need. In order to realise this, it is the responsibility of the senior team to take the lead by championing people within their organisation, as well as encouraging other senior people within these networks to act as mentors and role models. It is only by engaging a diverse array of people in tech that we can hope to protect the future competitiveness of the UK economy. And from enhancing agility to innovation and customer relationships, fostering a culture of inclusion is crucial for improving business performance, continued growth and success.
Game-changing inclusion networks
At Vodafone, we believe that a diverse, inclusive workplace creates game-changing strength for any organisation; and we want to lead by example. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but there’s more work to be done. Issues like the under-representation of women in tech – and the challenge of finding suitable roles when looking to return to work after a career break – need to be addressed. The Vodafone ReConnect programme brings talented women and men back into the workplace after a career break, and the Vodafone LGBT + Friends network champions inclusion and celebrates diversity at work. I am really proud of the work we do. Vodafone is fully committed to building a better future for its employees, customers, partners and the communities it works in.
The inclusive mindset
Inclusion is not reserved for senior leaders – it is a mindset where individuals hold strong personal values and treat everyone fairly. They recognise and value diversity in ideas, clients and their internal talent; they appreciate that they have limitations and others will have ideas and suggestions which they actively seek. They have the courage to speak up and challenge, to admit their mistakes and they give others a voice in decision making. They recognise that everyone is guilty of unconscious bias and put things in place to try and prevent it. This is important because it encourages collaboration amongst colleagues who feel empowered to speak up without fear of embarrassment, it encourages views from a diverse population who will see different issues which will not be recognised by those not directly affected. The starting point is a forum for discussion such as an inclusion network, even if it is just a suggestion box in a small office and a genuine consideration of the issues raised and a way of providing feedback. For larger companies they can consider having internal mentors or champions, to help guide those who need it, whether that be for women, mothers, the LGBT community or any other groups with protected characteristics. Other simple measures can include advertising in places where those from all social and ethnic backgrounds will see it, taking off the names, university and degrees of those applying for roles, recruiting for talent alone and, recognising unconscious bias in everyone, having CVs vetted in the first instance by someone else who is looking objectively at the talents and attributes of those applying.