Lessons on building a diverse workforce

Written by
Changeboard Team

05 Sep 2016

05 Sep 2016 • by Changeboard Team


With the Gender Pay Gap legislation coming into force, the shocking statistics of women in technology being revealed and the roll call of celebrities campaigning for more diversity in the film industry, there’s no sector immune from the spotlight when it comes to tackling the diversity deficit. But diversity isn’t just a trending hot topic…it’s here to stay.
Promoting workplace diversity has many bottom-line benefits that can enable a business to foster new ways of thinking, reach out to a wider range of customers and employees, and ultimately grow the business. 

As there’s an increasing number of women and people from cultural and ethnic backgrounds entering the workforce, it would be intrinsically damaging to ignore the fact that our work patterns are changing and the working population is evolving. 

As Malcom Forbes once said, “diversity is the art of thinking independently together”, and this couldn’t be more true if an organisation is looking to thrive in the ever changing culture we are now immersed in. 

It can be a huge challenge for HR professionals to implement an actionable strategy that will lead to diversity, but there are lessons we can learn that can help. 

Equal opportunities

It is not currently mandatory for businesses to supply statistics on the diversity of their workforce, but this has been discussed by many campaigners and may well feature in future legislation. Address diversity now and you will be better prepared to face any new requirements.

If you currently have a diverse workforce, you would be wise to look at your current retention strategy to ensure you are offering them a competitively-paid role within the company. 

If diversity is lacking, you may have some work to do. Diversity has to come from within the business and become part of its core philosophy, before it can be built upon. An equal opportunities policy could perhaps be drafted to ensure that all expectations and new roles are set out to all employees, rather than a targeted few. 

Regardless of size, implementing gender pay and equal pay policies could offer a competitive advantage. For example, by spending time supporting women's careers and providing the right opportunities, employers will benefit from recruiting and retaining talented people that they may otherwise not attract or lose if they are unfairly rewarded.
The release of the draft gender pay regulations has undoubtedly led to much debate, with many commentators choosing to focus on the negative impact of the regulations, but to a degree, they are missing the point. The regulations are designed to encourage workforce diversity.

Being seen to be an equal pay employer enhances your reputation and increases employee engagement, which in turn improves employee morale and retention rates. 

Diversity training

To reinforce a company’s equality and diversity policies, and to help establish a strong sense of culture and awareness within the workplace, businesses should offer diversity training.

Internal culture plays a pivotal role in the satisfaction of employees - building strong communication channels so that employees feel more confident in addressing issues is vital. 

It is outdated to presume that your employees are culturally aware; therefore, in your role as an employer, it is your responsibility to facilitate an environment that is well informed on current legislation and promotes good practice. 

Putting together a Culture Team can be an ideal way to ensure that any workplace activities cater to the needs and desires of the entire team, and celebrate diversity.


The approaches of diversity-based recruitment has gained much backlash in recent months, with many businesses admitting to adopting blind recruiting, to ensure that ethnic minorities gain a foot through the door. 

Typically, businesses have systematic problems at the very heart of their recruitment process, which often makes them more open to bias. 

However, the problem often isn’t down to the business itself, but how their recruitment process is being implemented.  There are far more proactive approaches that businesses can embrace without causing instant discrimination. 

Reaching out to organisations that serve the needs of the underrepresented population is one way of not only enhancing your company’s reputation as an employer that values diversity, but also encourages referrals. Creating partnerships with national and local organisations to promote your company’s diversity drive can open the doors to candidates who would not have found your business without your direct efforts. 

The Government is developing a number of policies and procedures that support diversity in the workplace, with Gender Pay Gap reporting being the next one to be enforced.
HR should take a pivotal role in undertaking any diversity and equality initiative to drive change -  without an ambassador the policies can quickly falter.