I’ve just come out of a meeting where for most part I felt uncomfortable. The topic was D&I (Diversity & Inclusion) and a presentation from our D&I working group on where we are, what we need to do better and how we are going to ensure that D&I is wedded to the fabric of our group of companies.
Of course, like every good business we have our policies and we care about the topic (we have D&I working group!). We also have some great examples of the good we’re doing in this space, but the session hit home in a such a way that I felt uncomfortable about how I need to take the topic far more seriously if we mean what we say in our policies. The journey really starts here and it’s going to be a long one.
The topic is so broad, the challenges so real and yet at least we have the desire to make meaningful change - not to tick a series of boxes on a tender, but to be a more diverse & inclusive set of companies who can help move the dial with others to ensure that we become a more inclusive country to live and work in.
In the session I was looking at the data and how from an internal and Head Resourcing perspective our mix of male to female is very good. Anecdotally (as we don’t have to report it due to company size) we would fare well in terms of gender pay gap reporting, although clearly we have so much more to do around these topics and the make-up of our workforce and customer base.
Whilst looking inward in the session I was struck about the companies we work with and how often you have the HR Directors or CEO’s singing one tune around the need for a diverse and inclusive workforce, but then the day to day struggles of CV’s being rejected for seemingly no reason, and naturally assuming that some bias or prejudice is at work. Then I begged the question “how can we as an employer make it a safe space for one of our team to walk away from a customer engagement due to being put in a difficult position ethically?” when it comes to prejudice or discrimination.
It’s a real problem, it exists, it always has and always will but that doesn’t mean its ok! It’s no good saying it’s human nature, we reflect what we see in the mirror etc. No, change what’s in the mirror and start showing others what it is like to be a person in today’s world.
I remember years ago as a young recruiter, we were asked to send CV’s to a company (who shall remain nameless but did go out of business) for a specific skillset. I couldn’t understand firstly the reticence of the recruiter not to put my CV’s forward to the client or indeed then the fact that all CV’s that weren’t typical British names were rejected. My naivety was soon challenged as it happened regularly, but in my head, I was sending the best CV’s belonging to people I had spoken to numerous times, trusted both their personal & communication skills and felt they were the right candidates for the job. It wasn’t a good experience but shamefully, as a young recruiter who wanted to be successful and get people jobs, I ended up finding candidates that the client would interview and so the cycle continued.
How do we start to move forward?
That was at least 18 years ago. Has anything changed? The positive thing is that organisations are being forced to change and we as the people that sit in the middle of the client & candidate relationship can influence, support and participate in ways that make things more fair, more inclusive and more diverse - if the will is there.
I’m committed to do more. To ensure that I live up to my own standards around fairness and equality but to go further and push myself into a new consciousness around privilege, diversity, inclusivity in all forms and make sure our group of companies does all it can to be a leading light in terms of what we want to see when we look in the mirror.
The message to all our customers out there is please make sure that the vision of the CEO is matched by the actions of all, otherwise a lot of our efforts to increase the diversity of workforces all over the UK will be a superficial checklist as opposed to meaningful change.
If you want to chat further about our journey and what we are doing to keep moving forward, please get in touch with me over here.
The information contained in this article does not constitute business advice and should not be acted on as such. This content is based on our understanding in February 2021. Head Resourcing are not liable for the information contained on any third-party websites linked to this article.