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Diversity: a change management process
Where you are and where you want to be
By taking a fresh look at diversity, you can benefit your business in many ways. But where do you start? You can’t transform a business overnight, so start by working out your baselines and what you think you can realistically achieve.
Where you want to be
Start by developing a vision of what your future diverse and successful business will look like. Ask questions such as: how can the company find new markets? How can we develop new products and services? How can we create stronger teams that produce innovative ideas and solutions? How can we recruit and retain a skilled and talented workforce? Use the principle of diversity to help you find the answers. Solutions will vary from business to business, according to the size, location, growth aspirations, capacity, market profile and so on. Once you have created your vision, compare this with your current situation.
Where you are
Take an honest look at your business culture. How diverse is it? Examine the patterns of exclusion and inclusion that exist in your organisation so that you know which areas to target. Don’t just talk to senior people: it’s important that you consult with people who aren’t usually part of the decision-making process. Talk to employees in lower-paying roles, front-line staff and trade unions to find out about the problems that under-represented groups in your company face. Talk directly to the ‘diverse’ groups themselves. Some companies do this through confidential surveys and focus groups. It’s only when you understand fully the barriers that exist in your present culture that you can take measures to remove them. Moreover, by consulting you may discover new ways of working and/or market opportunities to propel your business to the next level of success.
Collect information to understand where you are. Find out how many people from different backgrounds are in certain positions in your company and compare this with the diversity statistics for your local area. Statistical data can powerfully illustrate patterns of exclusion: around 30% of Londoners are from BAME groups – is one in three of your senior management team from those backgrounds? Develop an evidence base that you can use to strengthen the case for action.
Running a focus group
Consulting with employees and others about how your company is doing on diversity can be challenging as people are often reluctant to voice their opinions openly. Focus groups conducted in the right way can often provide the most appropriate kind of environment for exploring sensitive issues.
often best placed to understand your organisational culture and give you data against
which you can compare the experiences of individuals from under-represented backgrounds
Running a firm wide survey
A necessary and complementary approach to collecting information on where you are is to conduct a firm wide confidential survey. By making it a confidential survey, a larger and more open response may be returned. Indeed, consider the use of an external agent to encourage a sense of confidentiality and higher returns.
The purpose of the survey is to collect a wide and deep cross-section of views and opinions with regard to issues relating to equality and diversity. It also offers the opportunity to validate or indeed collect demographic data across the equality strands that might not always be available within existing HR information systems.
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