This week my colleague, Kerry Gird, and I attended an event on Diversity hosted by Deloitte for their top suppliers. It was really interesting to hear about their journey. They have gone from being behind their competitors in this area to being the forerunners with their diversity strategy and aims. However, at the same time, they also realise they have a long way to go to meet their goals. Deloitte provided great examples of their challenges, achievements, work in progress and how they are paving the way for other organisations to learn from them.

Similar to other organisations, they realise the importance of a diverse working environment. Two examples of how they are supporting the progression and understanding of a diverse workforce are their strong mentoring scheme and their diversity network groups, such as their Multicultural Network. With the hot topic at the moment being flexible working it was interesting to hear how Deloitte have adapted to this and how they have taken it one step further by offering their employees one month of unpaid leave every year.

Not all organisations have the luxury of being able to offer these types of benefits to employees due to business requirements. One thing that was apparent from this event and talking to HR Professionals from other organisations, is that it is important to listen to employees and to understand their needs. For instance, extra support and flexibility during a cultural/ religious event, such as Ramadan, may be needed. While it is up to the employee to take the initial step of engaging in the conversation, the business needs to be open to having the conversation and also needs to promote an environment where it is okay to have these conversations and where employees know that the business will do its utmost to accommodate their requirements.

Ultimately, every business wants to secure the best possible talent and it should never be a question around someone’s gender, race, cultural background or sexual orientation that results in their success or failure. It should be about appointing the right person for the role. So creating a diverse workforce is not about positive discrimination either, it’s about being open to all possibilities, doing away with any unconscious bias and being able to promote a flexible working environment that means equal opportunities for success for everyone.

We’re looking at finalising a Diversity breakfast forum early next year, if you are interested in attending, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we can update you when we have confirmed the details.