Why inclusive business = responsible businessOctober 2013
Sandra Kerr, OBE, director of Race for Opportunity, the race equality campaign from Business in the Community, tells Ethical Performance why diversity is key to the responsible business model
How important is diversity within a business’s CSR remit?
Responsible Business can only truly be so if it is being inclusive and ‘responsible’ with its own employees and in how it engages with the diversity of their communities, customers, clients and service users.
In recent times what businesses have impressed you with regards to their diversity programmes?
Organisations that have impressed me are those that are Champion members of the campaign that have integrated diversity into their core business strategy, understand their unique diversity challenges in order to implement targeted action, and are delivering real impact as well as continuously demonstrating their commitment to equality.
Where do you think most businesses are getting it right (when it comes to race diversity)?
Any business that is getting it right will be monitoring its workforce at every level and taking action to ensure that there is a diverse demographic of people within their workforce that matches the talent pool of the diverse communities across the UK.
The Business in the Community Gender and Race Benchmarking 2013 demonstrated three areas where businesses are getting it right. Those organisations that mandate unconscious bias training for those individuals or teams involved in recruitment, have clear and current objectives for recruitment of BAME talent, and provide transparent selection criteria for job roles, have better results in engaging and recruiting diverse candidates.
And where are they getting it wrong?
Not taking action. Not implementing any key performance indicators and not evaluating the impact of their actions. Not identifying areas where there are challenges that may need a more focused approach. Not understanding the diversity of the communities in which they operate and from where a growing number of their customers will emerge and that a ‘one size fits all’ approach may not be the best one.
What are the main challenges in CSR today?
Ensuring that diverse communities are benefiting from employer engagement activities at local level. For example, in the engagement to develop employability skills or support local entrepreneurs, all of which can in turn help to regenerate communities.
Ensure that an organisation’s employees are aware of the need to engage with all the diverse groups of people within the community and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to enable them to do this with confidence.
Do you admire any other companies in particular for their approach to CSR?
Marks & Spencer, the 2012 Responsible Business of the year for its recognition of the importance of employee engagement, particularly initiatives such as Schwopping that everyone can get involved with, and for putting Plan A at the heart of its business.
National Grid for its commitment to tackling youth unemployment. It is spearheading a new initiative, Generation Talent, from Business in the Community’s Talent & Skills campaign, which will work with the Department of Work & Pensions to help jobseekers by providing practical help for companies in their promotion of vacancies to the unemployed.
Some say the CSR debate has plateaued, do you agree?
I disagree. I think the next conversation is about inclusive CSR. Ensuring that you know the diversity of the communities in which you operate and ensuring that you engage all parts of it.
How do you see the evolution and future of CSR?
A greater engagement of partners in the UK and internationally via supply chains
If you could influence one major change in the way British business operates, what would it be?
To get diversity and inclusion into the corporate DNA and to raise employer consciousness of the importance of inclusion. I would like business to always check that they are being as inclusive as they can be as an employer, community volunteer and service provider. One of the most effective ways of influencing this is to build the requirements into the supply chain.
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