Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic. We hear the word used often, but what does it actually mean? According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, diversity means: the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people. Sounds simple enough, but why does it matter?
We asked: what does diversity mean to you and why does it matter?
Nina Atwal, Responsible Business Lead at Bombardier
Bombardier is committed to creating a culture where ALL our people feel respected, valued and included; where everyone feels comfortable about sharing their experiences and opinions, participating in a safe and supportive environment. We want each person to be confident that they have a place at the table feeling engaged, energetic and empowered in contributing towards a collaborative working environment where everyone is heard.
Different backgrounds, ideas, thoughts and experiences thriving in our company lead to higher levels of engagement and empowerment; nurturing and developing our people through championing diversity and inclusion allows us to positively shape our company – matching the inside with the outside!
Yasemin Çalağan – McClure, Property Manager at Hurford Salvi Carr
My job requires me to work with people in their homes. I meet with people from all different countries, cultures and religions. Having an understanding and acceptance that everyone is different makes it easier to build trust and to have empathy.
In the workplace, teams work together better when they understand it each other. Besides reflecting the world outside, diversity makes the job more interesting!
Afeefa Ali, Project Manager, Consumer Finance at Lloyds Bank
For some, it may mean someone to look up to as a role model, for others it means being able to relate to someone who could advise or guide them. For me, it meant both of these, but also accepting my differences and making sure they weren’t getting in the way of my role. By this, I mean my values, which were sometimes different to what my teams or bosses were used to.
It helps to have colleagues like me to help my bosses and team understand and accept that I may work differently to what they may have been used to. People that have had a similar upbringing to me, also help me understand where it could help or hinder my professional life. Some of the values I was brought up with, like: being respectful of elders/seniors, try your hardest at whatever task you are set to do and many others, all came with me to work. I am fortunate to have mentors and a team who help me to achieve my goals even with these values, which some may see as barriers, in my job.
Having a diverse workforce helps us understand our customers and colleagues better. The UK now has a large number of cultures, races and religions. For example, many from an Islamic background don’t want to take out a credit card with interest, so banks may introduce 0% interest credit cards for certain periods to help cater for these customers.
No two individuals are the same, and we should all learn to accept our differences, but use them positively too!
Olga Bottomley, Head Judge of the Asian Apprenticeship Awards
Diversity enhances any business, with the enrichment of sharing and understanding of different cultures, knowledge and experience.
For me, it is vital that every organisation have a workplace that represent our communities, promotes a greater understanding of respect, tolerance and encourages working together and reducing discrimination. Diversity in the workplace develops new initiatives and new ways of working to meet customer and organisational expectations.
Positive diversity in the workplace encourages positive diversity in our everyday lives.
Jenny Garrett, Co-Founder at Rocking Ur Teens
Diversity means to me opportunity. Opportunity for a melting pot of ideas, perspectives and creativity.
An opportunity for all to thrive and leverage the best of themselves in the workplace, and an opportunity for staff to reflect their customers and so be able to meet their needs more fully through products or services.
It matters because on a commercial level it enables us to be more competitive, but more importantly on a human level, we all deserve to belong, to be able to contribute and the opportunity to be able to bring our full selves into the workplace.
Shaheeb Mohammed JTL Plumbing Apprentice with Fortem
Shaheeb Mohammed had not been intending to follow an apprenticeship. He embarked on a Level 2 Electrical Engineering academic course in Rotherham and volunteered to work two days with local property services company Fortem to gain invaluable experience. His enthusiasm so impressed Fortem that they offered him a plumbing apprenticeship. “I jumped at the opportunity,” says Mohammed.
“I had come to value having hands-on work running alongside formal learning, and an apprenticeship brought both elements together in a way that really appealed to me. I was also lucky in having a father who saw the merits in an apprenticeship and didn’t try to push me down the university route.”
JTL Training Officer Steven Myers regards Mohammed as an outstanding representative of his own community. “He is someone who lives his values and is very generous in helping others understand his Muslim faith. He has given me a much greater understanding of his religious lifestyle and I know he will be a great role model for other young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who may not realise what an apprenticeship can offer them.”