Diversity in the workplace
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How do companies ensure diversity in their workforce?

10 Feb 2017

Diversity is probably the top quality jobseekers look for in a company, along with work-life balance. But how do top companies diversify their workforce?

It’s a serious fight for talent at the moment, so companies need to make sure they look attractive to candidates when recruiting.

Sure, an appealing salary package and a fun company culture would be a good start, but the buzzword on everyone’s lips at the moment is diversity.

It’s all well and good for a company to say diversity is important to them, but the proof is in the people as much as the policies. So how do some of the top companies obtain and encourage a diverse workforce?

“Embracing diversity and inclusion is a powerful catalyst for success,” said Mairead McCaul, business unit director at MSD Human Health.

The pharmaceutical company has a number of initiatives to promote diversity, including the MSD Women’s Network. “We recently celebrated our inaugural Women in STEM conference to recognise the importance of diversity and women in leadership,” said McCaul.

Risk management provider Aon has an inclusion strategy in place to keep their workforce varied.

“To ensure we are attracting a diverse range of talent, we have a number of sourcing strategies, working with community groups and focusing on different talent pools to ensure we are seen as an employer of choice,” said Katherine Conway, head of diversity, inclusion and community affairs at Aon.

The company also has a number of business resource groups that focus on bringing together colleagues to help drive awareness of various areas of diversity.

One of the biggest issues that comes with a fully inclusive workforce is unconscious bias. PayPal tackles this with a training workshop.

‘We’ve received fantastic feedback from both men and women who undertook the sessions’

“It’s an intensive and interactive two-day workshop that helps people identify and overcome both their conscious and unconscious biases,” said Maeve Dorman, head of global operations for PayPal EMEA. “We’ve received fantastic feedback from both men and women who undertook the sessions.”

PayPal also has a prayer room, free international phone booths and a dedicated LGBT network. The company regularly wins awards for its efforts at inclusion. Most recently, they were crowned ‘Diversity Champion 2016’ at the HR Champion Awards.

Storm Technology hosts a monthly ‘Culture Vulture’ day, where the team celebrates countries that employees are from. All of the employees are immersed in the culture of that particular country, from music to food.

There is a huge amount of diversity needed in the workforce to create well-rounded teams and different ideas and insights. This includes everything from ethnicity and culture to sexual orientation, education and background.

However, one of the first things that comes to mind is gender. When it comes to IT, science and finance in particular, having more women in the workplace is a necessary goal.

At Liberty IT, employees take part in an annual survey on diversity and inclusion. It also has cross-functional groups that touch base with employees for feedback on new policies. Outside of work, the company seeks out opportunities to support women in IT, including the sponsorship of a girls’ code club.

In the UK, Fidelity International has committed to gender equality by supporting a UK government initiative called ‘Women in Finance Charter’, which addresses gender imbalance in the UK financial industry.

Across other aspects of diversity, Fidelity International has its own diversity and inclusion network, which has branches in its main global offices. The company also hosts events with guest speakers who talk about mental health, disability and LGBT.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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