Inclusivity or diversity?
22 August 2023
We are undoubtedly part of one of the most diverse industries, our employees are from all walks of life, whether that be their socio-economic grouping, their religious beliefs, their gender identification, their cultural background or even their sexual orientation, but, asks Neil Spencer-Cook, are we doing enough in terms of inclusion?
LET'S TAKE a step back and look at what several organisations do. In my experience, many organisations have a “Diversity Policy” and state what their diversity aims are. This is great it shows that the business aims to be diverse, which in today’s environment is key. However, what creates diversity? Does a policy mean that a business ends up with a diverse workforce? Again, in my experience this doesn’t happen, if you want to ensure diversity and force certain levels within, let’s say, gender representation, the only way to ensure this happens is to discriminate, whether that is to advertise for only female, male or gender-neutral candidates, this can be classed as positive or negative discrimination depending upon which category is advertised for.
So, what creates true diversity? Should the focus be on creating certain levels of diversity? I would suggest that the true focus of any business should be to focus on inclusivity. What do I mean by this? Well, it is quite easy to apply, inclusivity should be free from bias of any form including unintentional bias. How easy is it to remove unintentional bias?
True inclusivity does not focus on any groups, it focuses on skill sets and abilities. It has no bearing on age, sex, religion, orientation, culture, race or any of the other groups that can be talked about when we are having conversations about diversity.
Inclusivity in training
One additional part of this we need to consider at BICSc is inclusivity in training, we need to ensure we can not only include all these groups into the mix, but we also need to ensure the training can be accessible by everybody including the neurodiverse. With the ability to train virtually and at the speed of the candidate with new learning platforms, language barriers are now removed with electronic translators available free to anyone with a smartphone, however, how much more can we do to be even more inclusive?
We are currently embarking on training for our development team on what they can include in our courses that aids and assists the neurodiverse and people with mental health issues, whilst remaining true to the course content, to ensure we remain as inclusive as we possibly can.
I was asked to be part of the “Welcome Committee for the Clean and Tidy Home Show,” this has been great, it is about everyone being welcome at the show and how everything is addressed to ensure that there is no difficulty for anyone who wants to attend the show, it really plays into my beliefs and what true inclusivity is about.
This got me thinking, do we as an industry need to shout about our levels of inclusivity and how that inclusivity is what creates the diversity that is so apparent across our workforces?
As an improvement we can make to our inclusivity, do we need to look at the language we use as standard and maybe remove some of our traditions that are not totally inclusive?
I think we do and after a discussion here with the team we are aiming to ensure that everyone attending our awards ceremony feels welcome, so you may notice a few changes, there will be no grace, the toasts will be adjusted or removed, and the standard welcome of ladies and gentlemen will be removed. Tradition has its place but what is more important to us here at BICSc is inclusion no matter what and this is just a small step in our use of language to ensure we become totally inclusive.
Neil Spencer-Cook is group managing director at BICSc.
For more information visit www.bics.org.uk