Diversity and inclusion are widely debated subjects, and rightly so. Many of us know, intuitively, that varied and fresh thinking from a range of experiences will positively support businesses and there's substantial research showing it yields substantially improved performance.
Recent events have shone a spotlight on the lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and it's now up to businesses to address this long-ignored opportunity. Are we at the tipping point of lasting change? I hope we are, but there's still a long way to go and we all need to be accountable for taking action.
From the mind to the heart
While improving boardroom diversity and the rich and different perspectives this can bring, the relatively small number of director positions and the commonality of triennial director tenures means that change will not occur as quickly as we need. There is, however, no excuse for a continued lack of diversity within the workforce this can and should be addressed now. Diversity in all its forms must run through an organisation's veins back to the heart of every decision made.
Prevention is better than a cure
With a cognitively diverse and inclusive culture many benefits are realised but one that is not typically measured is the reduction in misconduct. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) noted the link back in 20181 which resulted in a probe into the least diverse financial institutions following a surge of whistleblower complaints2. At its heart, this type of misconduct by workers is often an indicator of poor culture which in turn stems from poor governance.
Be the change you want to see
With the lack of diversity currently front and centre stage this is an ideal time to discuss this issue in UK boardrooms and force them to act to attract varied talent, maintain an inclusive culture and address inequalities in the workplace. Once on the agenda, diversity and inclusion, like all areas of business, requires frequent review and action because standing still means moving backwards!
Less than half the story
Sadly, it is estimated that circa 60 per cent3 of observed misconduct in the workplace goes unreported so the full picture is never fully visible to the board and a false sense of security could be standing in the way of concerted action being taken. A whistleblowing hotline, like Safecalls', that is embedded properly within the organisation offers an independent forum, one that in recent months, (as noted by Safecall) has seen a significant uptick in usage.
Companies will not be able to hide forever on this subject and the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive could be with us by December 2021. This mandates that all companies with more than 50 employees or with an annual turnover of ?10 million must have in place suitable internal whistleblowing reporting channels.
We'll keep you posted as this develops!
Originally published 8th July 2020
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