Thursday, 1 August 2013

Embrace Diversity & Kick it Out

Last Thursday I went to The Work Foundation and Kick it Out event at 7 Bedford Row to discuss Diversity and Inclusion in Football. I was intrigued.  Being a Glaswegian where football often was a religious issue,  Inclusion,  Diversity and Football didn't seem to be natural companions. How things have progressed!

Prof Stephen Bevan of The Work Foundation  gave the amazing statistic that white able bodied men in full time work are a minority at 20%.  So we have to challenge our meaning of diversity.

Ideally diversity is respecting and allowing difference to flourish.  This is important to the bottom line as some of these statistics show:

In a Job Centre Survey about 56% of customers said they were more likely to use a business with more diversity.

When Lloyds TSB matched the community demographic they increased sales by 30%.

Sainsbury's increased customer retention, customer satisfaction and had a higher level of workforce engagement when they addressed their diversity.

Diversity is not about ticking boxes or quotas it's about embedding diversity into the culture therefore it has to come from the top.  We now know that Diversity makes Business sense and we increasingly have the data to prove it.

Professor MIke West said "Leadership is the key, as there is very little evidence that Diversity Training on it's own works".  When there is leadership approval the business has better recruitment, better appraisals, better training and better systems for decision making.

In Professor West's study in the NHS he discovered that we behave with less civility to people who are different from us.  So if we train our staff to be mindful of this, it will build awareness and change behaviour.  We may believe we prefer to spend time with people who are like us but all studies show that diverse teams are more productive, creative and innovative and more socially integrated.

Anne Hurst from PWC showed a video challenging our own perceptions.  She discussed the importance of diversity promoting innovation and creativity and the impact it has on the bottom line.  One innovation Anne shared with us was PWC sent weekly emails to the staff suggesting they do something different eg read a different newspaper, go to a different place for lunch or sit in a different part of the office.  Practical things that broaden our horizons and can then impact other areas of our consciousness.

One other innovation they delivered to potential recruits was "shadow a female leader".  They found they doubled the number recruits by doing that.

Andy Ambler from Millwall discussed the importance of using skills and including cultures off the pitch.   His commitment to the importance of diversity in staff at Millwall has really shifted my perception and I hope to take a family visit soon! With Heather Rabbatts, the first female NED of the FA coming from Millwall they have an interesting record in gender promotion.

Clive Tyldsley, ITVs Chief Football correspondent  identified that football is at the centre of most communities in the UK and therefore the people that run it need to reflect that.   "We have a distorted sense of normal; we have a new normal"

After the panel there was a lively debate and a challenge from the floor about the lack of black coaches in football.  When West Ham Chief, David Gold admitted he'd never interviewed a black coach or had any applications from a black coach;  Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick it Out asked "where are these jobs advertised?" More may need to be done.

It's great to see companies actively engage in this important area.  It's no wonder because the evidence is consistently showing companies that take this seriously: increase their profits, increase customer retention, improve creativity and innovation as well as improving staff retention. A pretty compelling argument.

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