Diversity in the workplace: Differences that make a difference

Angela Lewis 20.03.2019

There is no silver bullet to increasing diversity in the workplace, but certain programmes can be implemented that are more successful than others.

How can companies promote diversity in the office?

While the country continues to be engulfed in the Brexit fiasco and the City of London is preparing itself for the unknown, many firms have pushed on with other matters such as improving workplace diversity. For example, several have set their own targets to address the gender imbalance within senior management, with nearly half already meeting their goals according to the ‘Women in Finance’ charter. Gender equality is a question of social responsibility and yet despite a multitude of campaigns and decades of ambassadorial work, it seems the glass ceiling still exists. Women account for less than 10% of executives at FTSE 100 companies. With this at the forefront of people’s minds, Morgan McKinley hosted an event to discuss the issue and what more companies can be doing to promote diversity in the workplace.

Our speakers were Rini Laskar and Fatima Mohamed Sadeck, both BAME female leaders at UBS working in Technology. They are also both leading figures in Mosaic UK (UBS), the fastest growing employee network in the UK with over 800 members. Their 3 key objectives are: Recruitment, Retention and promoting UBS as an employee of choice for BAME individuals. Mosaic drive these objectives with focus groups, a cross group steering committee, networking and panel events and have also piloted a mentoring scheme.

Statistics about how diversity can make a difference

Does diversity make a difference to an organisation? The answer is yes, and some supporting facts and figures are highlighted below:

  • Ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to earn above-average revenue
  • Gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to earn above-average revenue
  • Teams with 50-50 gender diversity outperform other teams in quality of work
  • 2 out of 3 candidates report that diversity is important in evaluating job offers
  • More than half of employees believe their company should do more to improve diversity

How did diversity save Barbie?

Do we know what works?

Rini explained that, in her experience, many of the traditional diversity programmes aren't effective. This includes mandatory diversity training, hiring tests, performance ratings, grievance procedures and women only leadership programmes. She explained that this is because most diversity programmes focus on controlling managers’ behaviours and studies show how that approach tends to activate bias rather than quash it.

“People rebel against rules that threaten their autonomy.” 

Rini went on to say that  instead of trying to police managers’ decisions, the most effective programmes engage people in working for diversity, increase their contact with women and minorities and also tap into their desire to look good to others.

Some successful diversity programmes include:

  • Voluntary Training
  • Self Managed Teams
  • Cross Training
  • College Recruitment (targeting women & minorities)
  • Diversity Task Forces
  • Diversity Managers
  • Employee Network Groups

In summary, Rini concluded there is no miraculous fix to workplace diversity and it takes a combination of several parties working collaboratively to address it most effectively. Although many companies have made progress towards committing to diversity in their leadership teams, around 20% of the FTSE350 still only have either one woman or none on their boards. There is a pressing need to do more and unfortunately progress will remain slow unless we confront the ever increasingly hard to ignore diversity blind spots.

There's no silver bullet to diversity in the workplace

Some photos from the event:

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