Nov 28, 2022
Nov 28, 2022

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion - Article 2

In the first of our article series on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I), we have looked at the main headlines in the world of work. We have attempted to make it relatable to all of our clients across Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

The prominence of ED&I has gathered volume across boardrooms and HR departments over the past few years, but that does not mean that everyone has developed their own position on the subject.

One of the biggest challenges of ED&I is that it feels like an awkward subject – a minefield of saying something offensive, outdated or inappropriate. To use an analogy, it feels like  many people are either in the fast lane of strongly pushing for radical transformation, without much understanding or consideration of different learning speeds; or there are those stuck in the slow lane, refusing to acknowledge the need to change, or hoping for the change to ‘happen on its’ own’ – we would all make a lot more progress if everyone was in the middle lane.

We have taken the position in Pratap Partnership that we are in “learning mode” on the subject. We do not claim to be experts and to have all of the answers. Our objectives are for us to keep developing our understanding; making Pratap Partnership a safer and more empowering workplace; and to make changes in the job market through positive ED&I practice. We aim to do this through continuous conversations both internally and externally on the subject, helping make people feel more comfortable with the subject (adopting this approach over the past three years has helped us to develop the ED&I within our campaigns to a level that we are almost always beating the benchmark representation in every campaign. More to come on that in a couple of weeks).

Recently we engaged with Dr Olga Frańczak, Programme Lead Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Objective at REC. Both Olga and ourselves want to build a lasting partnership; and we couldn’t think of a better person to help us stay ahead of the curve in relation to ED&I topics within the Recruitment sector. Our practices are constantly evolving, and we want to ensure that we stay at the forefront of the best ED&I processes and practices.

What does ED&I mean?

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. This article encourages you to move beyond legal obligations and implement best practices.

For all of the numerous podcasts, articles and books on the subject, there is no better definition than that provided on the CIPD website;

Equality ensures that every individual has equal opportunities

Diversity recognises that people are different in many ways

Inclusion is where those differences are seen as a benefit and where perspectives are shared.

As such, meaningful ED&I action benefits everyone. Some of the characteristics addressed in ED&I work include:

Gender is perhaps the most mature topic within ED&I. Gender pay gap reporting, improved maternity leave and menopause policies demonstrate some of the progression made in this area. As with many areas of ED&I, progress is being well made at the job entry level, but it is taking a long time for it to reach the top of the structure. Some of our recent analysis for the CFO Network Quarterly Update estimates that women account for only 16% of CFO and Finance Director positions across Yorkshire.

Ethnicity is a subject that is gathering pace, if not as much action. The Parker Review was led in 2016 and reported that only 85 of the 1,050 board positions on the FTSE 100 were held by directors of colour.

Age is a fascinating element of ED&I planning with an ageing population who are working longer, and with us all sitting on the cusp of where the millennial generation are taking over the volume of management level roles and increasing representation in the boardroom. It makes good commercial sense (as well as it being the right thing to do) to represent each age group in the board decisions to ensure a connect across the business. In fact, this logic applies to all of the other protected characteristics, including gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation.

Disability, Religion and Sexual Orientation are the other key areas of ED&I planning

Recruiting inclusively or recruiting “the best person for the job”?

Combining the objectives of effective recruitment and good ED&I can appear to be two separate objectives when considered on face value:

  1. Recruit the best people for the organisation
  2. Recruit a team that reflects the community around the organisation, with representation across all levels

The first point has existed for decades – centuries even! It is difficult to argue with…. And why should it? “Recruiting the best person for the job” should be one of the objectives of every recruitment campaign.

The second point is sometimes interpreted as either “a less attractive alternative” or “a compromise” on the first point and this is where a positive understanding of how ED&I can improve a hiring process starts to be misunderstood. Every employer should embrace both points for their recruitment, challenging themselves to raise the profile of the second point.

Our thoughts are that ‘the best team’ is representative of the community it operates in; this can be achieved through recruiting inclusively and attracting truly the best person for the job. Our objective for all of our retained searches is “to recruit the best person for the job, setting out an attraction and assessment process that engages as many strong candidates as possible”. It is very hard to argue that this is not a better objective than just adopting point one or point two.

A few last thoughts

We have all grown up in an employment world where the vast majority of our business leaders are white males. Boardrooms were exclusive spaces and fair career progression was available only to a few. Without a doubt, as a society we have matured enough to understand that this is not ok. More and more work is being done to ensure a safe, empowering and inclusive labour market which fairly represents the makeup of our diverse population. Positive change is coming.

Our position is that everyone must have an equal opportunity for every application and that this will see a more diverse landscape of leaders in the future. We will not reach a more diverse landscape of future leaders solely through an “equal opportunities” policy – their impact on biases, stereotypes and structural inequalities is limited. ED&I is an evolving subject. Every individual and employer can learn more, challenge their thinking and play their own part in growing the momentum of progress.

Nik Pratap
Lorraine Pratap
Elise Walsh
Gillian McBride
Nicola Worrow
Joe Ingham
Amanda O’Neill
Karen Caswell
Dale Spink
Charlotte Morgan-Smith
Henry Clarkson
Gemma Hutchinson
Jess Lister
Lucy Miles

Other articles