Diversity still a minority thing

The
diversity of an organisation still lags behind more traditional priorities and
is only a key driver for jobseekers from minority groups, according to
research.

A
study of more than 30 companies, which incorporated around 15 employee focus
groups, found that salary, location, career development and training are still
the most important factors for jobseekers.

However,
the research by recruitment company Bartlett Scott Edgar also found that a
visibly diverse company culture was something that was quietly embraced as a
key value by staff.

The
focus groups revealed that staff struggled to define the concept of diversity
and often confused it with old-style equal opportunities.

The
research highlighted problems with diversity training and suggested that
corporate communications intended to raise awareness, such as newsletters or
leaflets, had only a limited impact.

Kay
Allen, who has managed diversity schemes at B&Q and the Royal Liverpool
Philharmonic Orchestra, said companies must improve training and not have
separate diversity agendas for customers and employees:

“Firms
have to connect the training programmes for customer service and employees.
Ad-hoc training will only deliver ad-hoc results. It’s a continual process and
not just a box to be ticked. Lasting change will only be achieved if the
workforce understands and is receptive to change,” she said.

According
to the findings individual experience had the greatest impact on people’s
opinion of diversity and many struggled to see any real distinctions between
companies in terms of diversity.

Big
diversity change programmes were seen as too complex whereas relatively small,
inexpensive measures like flexibility in time off, individual correspondence,
faith days and prayer rooms were hugely valued by employees.

By Ross Wigham

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