Diversity is a wide ranging subject and only some of it, but a good bit of it, comes under the nine protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
To me, diversity is about inclusion and about making everyone feel strongly valued. It is also about benefiting from a group mind which is informed by the widest possible mix of viewpoints, backgrounds and experience. I’ll get on to that topic again later.
Equalities legislation has come a long way since I first got involved in the disability world in the late 1980s. A number of equalities strands have come together in joined up legislation and protection and despite the barriers, diversity as a whole is progressing.
It is great too that by using some reasonably objective measures, it is possible to see who at least some of the best graduate recruiters are across all nine protected characteristics and at every level of recruitment and retention of staff. See for example the Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List.
How do you find an inclusive employer? There are various kite marks and schemes which all have a value such as the RICS Inclusive Employer kite mark and the “disability confident” symbol which recently replaced the two ticks symbol and which moves employers through three levels of commitment to benefiting from the skills and experience offered by disabled people. But beyond these, there is ongoing cultural change. As students and graduates you will often find that employers welcome diversity both in relation to protected characteristics and other equality matters such as social class which lie beyond the legislation.
A couple of weeks ago, the Careers Managers took some time trying out a peer group reflective practice approach to problem solving.
In a group of about ten, two of us presented real world issues we were grappling with and then defined the ideal solutions we’d like. It was then over to the group for 30 minutes to talk the issues out while the presenter listened without interrupting and took any notes. Each of the presenters really benefited from the diversity and creativity in the group and was free to accept or reject anything that was suggested. An optimum way forward emerged from the group working as a collective resource.
It was a really productive time and it underlined for me some of the reasons why employers who embrace diversity and encourage it through recruitment are more productive and successful. There is a real transformative power which comes from a diverse group of thinkers, planners or service providers all collaborating together.
Please go to our website to find advice and sources of in-depth information on employers committed to diversity as well as your rights as a candidate and as an employee.
And don’t forget to check out live vacancies on Glasgow Careers.