Future-gazing: How to create the workforce of tomorrow
25th February 2020
What does the next decade hold for the workforce of Yorkshire?
Harmajinder Hayre, Head of Employment at Ward Hadaway and Sharon Jandu, who represents the Yorkshire Asian Business Association examine the business benefits of engaging a diverse workforce, ahead of the Yorkshire Fastest 50 Awards in March.
“Diversity in the workplace? In ten years our jobs will all be done by robots,” jokes Harmajinder Hayre when you ask him what the workforce of the future will look like.
“Seriously though, I think what businesses need to focus on in the decade is social diversity rather than any particular characteristic. It’s about having a mix of different genders, ages, races, nationalities, abilities and ethnicities within your workforce.
“If you examine the population of Yorkshire, 5million people are living here, and around 15% of them are non-white British. That’s just under 1million people from a multi-cultural background.
“Tapping into that socially diverse workforce has huge benefits for any business, but that’s only really being understood and harnessed at the moment by some of the larger employers in the area.
According to research by McKinsey & Co in 2018 a business is more likely to perform better financially if its workforce is more diverse. Delivering Through Diversity examined more than 1,000 companies across 12 countries, concluding that firms in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity, are 33% more likely to see higher-than-average profits than companies in the lowest quartile.
Sharon Jandu represents the Yorkshire Asian Business Association. Her advice is clear; “Embrace and encourage diversity. You need to own it in your head and your heart if you want to see and feel the difference – it has to be genuine. Be bold with it and have a vertical slice of the population on your board, you’ll be truly reflecting your customers and your employees if you do.
“Challenge yourselves. Employ people who don’t fit the stereotypical employee ‘type’ for your business. Your organisation will also benefit from neuro-diverse people – who think outside the box and don’t just give you more of the same.”
Harmajinder believes that SMEs and businesses of all sizes can benefit in many ways from harnessing a socially diverse workforce. He says; “Firstly, you’ll have a competitive advantage. That’s because you’ll be able to tap into a range of viewpoints and opinions. This allows you to innovate at pace, building new products and services more rapidly that meet the needs of all your customers.
“Secondly, you’ll have a much better understanding of your customer base. You want your workforce to reflect your customers in the broadest sense. You’ll have a much deeper understanding of their needs if you employ people like them.
“Thirdly, you’ll strengthen your employer brand and attract the very best talent. Embracing social diversity and representing it through your policies, your marketing and your actions shows you are inclusive, and employees are attracted to that. If they see themselves represented in a business, they can relate to it, they feel like it’s a place they’ll be accepted and fit in.
“Staff retention is another benefit. If you’re promoting and engaging with the diversity agenda internally, employees feel more valued and they buy into that ethos. They’re happier, and this has a direct impact on productivity and turnover. People want to work where they feel genuinely listened to and included, whatever their social background, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.”
As for the future, Sharon says; “On the whole big business is opening up to diversity and inclusion, the challenges are within the smaller businesses and getting them to question their unconscious bias.”
Harmajinder believes that over the next decade businesses of all sizes must wake up to the myriad benefits that a diverse workforce brings or risk failure. He concludes; “There’s a real business imperative to do this. Not only will organisations innovate more quickly as a result, but it’s also a differentiator in the market place helping attract and retain talent, but also customers – and profits. Big business is on board, but there is absolutely no reason why SMEs can’t follow suit.”
Here are Harmjinder’s top tips for creating a diverse workforce;
- Get genuine buy-in from the top. Your diversity strategy must be lead from the top and that means making a clear statement as to what that means. Make sure you communicate your diversity policy and initiatives internally and externally – so staff know it’s genuine, and potential employees and customer’s do too.
- Set up a diversity task force. Have someone senior take responsibility for your diversity agenda internally – and if you have multiple locations, make sure there’s someone in each geography. The task force should be made up of people from across the business, at all levels, so you can hear all views and your people feel engaged and listened too and genuinely involved in positive change.
- Meet regularly. You need to keep driving things forward, this needs to be a constantly evolving process, with agreed objectives and actions.
- Create a mentoring scheme. Creating schemes where senior and junior members of your team from different backgrounds can share views is a great way to transfer knowledge and expose each other to different perspectives.
To talk to Harmajinder about how Ward Hadaway can help with your People needs, call him on 0330 137 3165 or 07515 199 903 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.