How to get diversity and inclusion on your business agenda
A more diverse workforce is critical for good marketing. Here, Dylan Bogg, executive director, themission, outlines what to consider beyond gender and ethnicity
While improvements are being seen all the time, most companies understand that more can always be done when it comes to diversifying their talent pool. Many studies have shown that a more diverse workforce helps to foster broad thinking, which in turn can nurture greater creativity, innovation and productivity.
This is especially important in the creative and communications sector, for example – if everyone in the room has the same background, you’re likely to get the same ideas and ways of thinking, missing out on new creative directions.
But what are the key considerations for businesses looking to continue the diversity journey?
A broad church
Diversity is a broad concept. Often, gender and ethnicity dominate the debate, but there is much more to it than that.
For many businesses, securing talent from outside the traditional university path, such as attracting young people through apprenticeships or work experience schemes, has become an important element of creating a diverse mix.
Here at themission, we’re focusing on the diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda, making a commitment to develop D&I specific competencies that keep us at the forefront of these developments, both internally and client work-wise.
One approach we’ve taken has been to form a partnership with the School of Communication Arts (SCA). The SCA is a social enterprise, supported by over 100 agencies in a number of different ways. It offers an alternative route into careers in advertising and the creative industries, taking students from diverse backgrounds in a hands-on alternative to the traditional university route.
The relationship will see students from SCA working on live briefs for themission agencies, gain valuable skills and experience through work placements, and receive advice from experienced professionals within the group through a mentoring programme.
According to the Dean of the school, Marc Lewis, partnering with the group “opens doors for the students to work in some great agencies, for incredible clients, inside and outside of traditional advertising. In addition, geographical reach will help us to send the very best talent to locations amongst many areas across the UK.”
Attracting diverse talent
As businesses strive for a more diverse workplace, it would be unfair to expect this to happen overnight.
The speed of achieving this, for example, will depend on the size of the organisation. Large public companies with big HR departments and established recruitment programmes are likely to have more time, budget and resource to find and attract a wider talent base.
While every business should be taking the necessary steps to achieve diversity, it’s also worth noting that some industries are fighting against longer-established diversity issues and that breaking these perceptions within society will just take more time.
The evidence shows that organisations that consciously work to boost their diversity reap the rewards.
For example, global accountancy and consultancy firm KPMG launched a campaign called It’s Her Future designed to attract more female applicants to its technology consulting practice. The campaign stressed the equal value that women can bring to the field of IT – a career path that has traditionally been dominated by men. As a result, the firm’s female intake to its technology consulting business rose from 30% to over 50%. KPMG says it has now also developed the campaign to target girls at school and inspire them to think about careers in IT.
Diversity for growth
Every organisation is different and each one will have a different diversity footprint. How best to drive diversity up will be greatly influenced by the size of the organisation and the sector it is in. But there are steps that every business can take to increase its attractiveness to diverse talent.
While huge leaps are already being seen in the creative marketing industry for example, innovation and fresh thinking are key differentiators. We believe that boosting diversity is one of the ways to help agencies achieve this.
Ultimately, organisations across sectors are looking to achieve business growth in what are volatile and uncertain times. The businesses that achieve the greatest diversity of thinking and talent are the ones most likely to achieve that growth.
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