Are diversity and social impact the future for business?

Posted 12:01 Tuesday 23 January 2018
Importance of Diversity

Recently the MES Research and Community team have been busy attending training courses and networking events to enhance our personal development.

One event that I attended last month was on “Women who care: Are diversity and social impact the future for business?” The event was hosted by NatWest Business Growth Enablers for Women and involved a panel discussion featuring the following women who have made a real impact in their respective industries.

  1. Heather Melville OBE CCMI Director for Strategic Partnerships and Head of Business Inclusion Initiatives for RBS
  2. Rina Goldenburg-Lynch CEO & Founder of Voice at the Table
  3. Jackie Groundsell Managing Director of 1230 The Women's Company Ltd
  4. Lu Li CEO & Founder of Blooming Founders
  5. Helen Walbey Founder of Recycle Scooters Ltd. and National Policy Chair for Health and Diversity at FSB

The topics from the panel discussion ranged from increasing diversity, supporting underrepresented communities, making positive social impact in the workplace and making businesses a better place to be.

Hearing the panellist’s individual stories and ideas about building a creative and diverse working environment was very inspiring. Some of the key themes and take away points that I identified were:

  • In business it is important to recognise gender equality. The values of both men and women are equal and on par - having a gender balance in the workplace is key to building an organisation that is inclusive. Currently at MES we have a48% female and 52% male gender split making the gender balance an equal one in our working environment.
  • Encouraging diversity in the business is crucial as it helps drives creativity. Examples were provided where some companies have business departments who represents people from different nations, cultures and experiences. Having such diversity increases learning amongst one another in terms of sharing various experiences, thoughts and provides a different ways of thinking known as cognitive diversity. At MES we are proud to say that our workforce of 25 represents 13 different nationalities and mixed ethnicities. Welcoming diversity in the business is not only something MES just talks about – we act upon it and factor it into our thinking when developing and growing our workforce.
  • Diversity creates innovation and creative products
  • A healthy working environment is one where people feel comfortable and safe to be expressive and know that their voice is heard
  • There is now a recognition of BME talent in leadership roles which historically did not happen
  • The culture, social impact and tone of businesses is set from the top with management
  • When considering recruiting new joiners, it’s useful to consider different recruitment channels such advertising posts in the voluntary sector or at local universities where University students may be interested in a placement. By reaching out you will be able to get a good mix of potential interest.
  • When it comes to hiring – employers should not judge people by physical appearance , it’s about what that individual can potentially deliver and bring to the company. It’s important not to let the conscious bias take over and it’s important to be understanding and open.

I personally found the event very true and applicable to my own work place here at MES. It made me think about the set-up of the company and how refreshing it is to have colleagues who are from different backgrounds, different Countries and have different experiences. This diversity is also reflected through the work that we have done using Insights Discovery, which we adopted first in 2014. The Insights Discovery methodology uses a simple and memorable four colour model to help people understand their style, their strengths and the value they bring to the team. We call these the colour energies, and it's the unique mix of Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green and Cool Blue energies, which determines how and why people behave the way they do. All of this helps to make MES a vibrant place to work and learn.

Creating a representative and inclusive environment is also demonstrated in the work that we do for our clients. We help build and support engaged citizens panels, communities and memberships for the health sector, local authorities and housing associations. Our Research and Community team work on projects that include targeted recruitment, tailored engagement to hard to reach groups and ethnic minority groups with the aim to increase representivity. We strive to help organisations build engaged communities through efficient, joined-up communication and by providing outstanding customer service.

Our teams here are diverse and socially inclusive and it is positive to see how MES is already living up to many of the ambitions mentioned in the NatWest business event.

Overall my day was very inspiring in terms of hearing and understanding how diversity and inclusion and social impact should and will shape the businesses of the future.

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