Transparent Thinking – Breaking The Mould in Diversity and Inclusion

Making progress in manufacturing can’t be focused purely around improving technology, it must also be grounded in creating progressive cultures that breed opportunities for everyone, regardless of their demographic or background.

As many businesses around the world recognise the benefits that come with incorporating inclusive and diverse working processes, a large proportion are unsure where to even begin. How can they enact widespread changes in long-standing behaviour throughout their organisation, in a way which is both enduring and effective?

Christine White, Head of Diversity Mark

Christine White, our Head of Business talks with Encirc for Transparent Thinking – their new insight-led content series, which will uncover and confront the biggest issues facing the global manufacturing and beverages sectors. Christine shares her expert insight around the important first steps which those responsible must take to instil futureproofed values.

One of the biggest dangers facing the world of employment today is that companies and senior leaders see diversity as being only a tick-box exercise. This isn’t what embracing diversity and inclusion is all about. It must be about creating a positive and more meaningful culture. This takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but doing it properly also brings with it real rewards and will pay dividends if it goes beyond just lip service.

A compelling business case

There is a huge difference between organisations with senior level buy in and those that do not really understand the true value of diversity and inclusion. For example:

Organisation A treats Diversity and Inclusion as a single initiative owned exclusively by HR, they think it is the right thing to do but it’s seen as more of a tick box exercise that they sometimes pay lip service to every now and then. Employees, therefore, also see it as a tick-box exercise with no authenticity.

Organisation B however, sees it as a growth enabler and the key to every decision within the organisation.  Every individual leader is bought into the value of belonging, both intellectually and emotionally. Leaders are authentic and visible champions for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and they are equipped to be able to explain why they care, why it matters, and why it should matter to their direct reports and colleagues.

The business case for inclusivity and diversity has been clearly made over time and is backed up by numerous academic studies which have shown that companies with greater diversity perform much better and have significantly lower staff turnover rates as well as increased innovation. McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for Gender Diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have above average profitability. Harvard Business Review reported in 2020 if we act now to advance gender equality this could add $13 trillion to the global GDP by 2030.

Understanding the barriers

Analysis of data is key because you can not change what you can’t see, feel, hear, understand or quantify. Auditing the system and achieving systemic change requires quantitative and qualitative data and this should be measured regularly. At Diversity Mark we  provide a framework for organisations which assists with this important step. This data should be reviewed with a key team of stakeholders. The most important stakeholder is the wider workforce, especially underrepresented groups. This vital exercise should assist in identifying any potential barriers to women or underrepresented groups, which can then be acted on accordingly.

Creating an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy

The aim of this activity would be to have a living document which outlines the values, principles, and goals of the business when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion.

An effective Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy should include how Diversity and Inclusion links to the company’s values, core operating model and growth strategy and it should be easy to communicate.

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to create an inclusive employer brand. Glassdoor found that 67% of candidates said that diversity in an organisation is an important factor when considering a job offer, so it is imperative to make a statement and make your diversity goals and strategy visible both internally and externally.

Working Groups can also be invaluable when planning or implementing change, starting or reviewing your diversity journey, or enabling you to really hear staff views in relation to a particular issue.

Being involved in a diversity working group can be an excellent development opportunity for individuals, as they can take ownership of tasks whilst spreading the workload – rather than a couple of individuals in HR trying to drive change.

Encirc, for example, were able to establish their first internal Women’s Network, which now supports and champions gender equality across the business. Three projects were developed by the original committee; the first of which focused on championing gender diversity in the workplace.

Developing a positive culture for employees

If you attract the best people into your organisation – will they stay?  Do team members feel they will score extra points if they work excessive hours, answer emails at weekends and evenings and wear their burnout badge with honour?  If the answer is yes, then you are unlikely to retain top talent, especially women and working families.

Culture comes from the top, and managers should lead by example here. If you can make kindness, compassion, and trust central features of your culture you will attract the best people and retain your top talent. Culture audits, anonymous surveys and exit interviews can be helpful and will give you benchmarks to improve on. If you are in constant listening mode with your employees, employee satisfaction will increase, and turnover will reduce.

Building a diverse pipeline for the future.

Many of the STEM and manufacturing organisations on board with Diversity Mark, such as Encirc, are trying to attract more females and have initiatives around reaching out into the community.  For example, outreach to girls’ schools could include offering work experience opportunities, offering work related project opportunities, providing a sponsored prize for a manufacturing or STEM related project, and engagement with local primary schools using female role models to emphasise at an early stage that manufacturing, and STEM careers are for girls and boys.

Talent mapping is a vital process in identifying the capabilities, experience and potential of current employees and aligning this with your growth strategy to reveal talent gaps and development needs. It helps to identify the stars within your organisation, and you can work on their personal development to get them ready to participate at senior levels when the time comes, whilst retaining them.

Job seekers and young people want to know what you are doing to increase diversity and inclusion in your company, which is a big reason to improve your recruitment practices.  Editing job description language thoughtfully and use of gender-neutral language, along with blind shortlisting and diverse interview panels, can help in reducing the risk of unconscious bias. In the case of Encirc, the company launched a Diversity Charter in 2019, which outlined its commitments in line with the above, to ensure a fair and balanced recruitment process. Find out more here.

If you want to find out more about the Diversity Mark accreditation programme visit www.diversity-mark-ni.co.uk or email info@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk

Alchemy Technology Services ranked number 11 on the UK’s Best Workplaces™ for Women List 2021

Anne O’Neill (Head of HR), Katie Forrest (HR Assistant), Lauren Baker (Resource Manager)

Congratulations to Diversity Mark signatory Alchemy Technology Services who ranked number 11 of the female on the UK’s Best Workplaces for Women List 2021.

100% of the female workforce at Alchemy said, “Taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work”

This follows the company’s recent ranking as number 29 on the UK’s Best Workplaces List.

To make the list of Best Workplaces for Women, Alchemy had to meet additional criteria from their UK Best Workplaces recognition including having at least 25% women in the workforce, at least 25% of women in senior positions and at least 80% average positive survey responses from the female workforce. 

Considering factors such as daily encounters of innovation, inclusivity, company values, and the effectiveness of leaders, the women of Alchemy rated their workplace experience as consistently great. 100% of the female workforce at Alchemy said, “Taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work” and on average, rated the company 93% across the board.

John Colwell, Board Sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion said, “We have always been proactive about ensuring we have a female workforce who feel supported and secure in their roles. The Tech industry is renowned for having few women in roles at all levels, so we are delighted to see that our efforts are paying off and that we have a higher-than-average female to male ratio and women in Leadership at Alchemy.”

Anne O’Neill, Head of HR said, “It is so important that we not only create an environment where our female employees are treated fairly and equitably but that we lay the groundwork to ensure that young women and girls coming through school and higher education feel that a successful and prosperous career in Tech is within their reach. We have been and will continue to be active within schools and various groups to break down stereotypes and ensure that young women feel empowered to consider and are supported to pursue IT as a career.”

Alchemy have already achieved the Bronze Award Accreditation with Diversity Mark which is a “Mark of Progress” that publicly declares their commitment to advancing Diversity and Inclusion across the organisation. Through this process they established targets to review all policies and procedures for gender bias, increase the percentage of women in the workplace and through engagement with external bodies supporting gender equality, encourage and support women to become more confident and successful.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

FinTrU introduces Pregnancy Loss Policy for all employees

Diversity Mark Signatory FinTrU has officially introduced a comprehensive Pregnancy Loss Policy which will be available to all employees across the company.

The FinTrU Pregnancy Loss Policy caters for both the pregnant individual and their partner in the event of a pregnancy loss. Statistics show that one in eight pregnancies can end in miscarriage, and this policy aims to support FinTrU employees in ensuring that they have the time and care they need after such a tragic event.

Sinead Carville, FinTrU Chief HR Officer

FinTrU Chief Human Resources Officer, Sinead Carville, said of the new policy “As FinTrU continues to grow, we are always looking at our employee demographic to support them in whatever way we can. Traditionally when a pregnancy loss occurs, people can feel uncomfortable speaking about it and tend to use other reasons for compassionate leave. We want to completely remove that barrier and ensure that our employees and managers are fully equipped with the knowledge, training and support they require should they encounter this devastating situation in life. Our organisation is evolving and we are always looking at ways for us to evolve as a provider for our people. FinTrU will continue to monitor and implement employee centric policies to support them in their careers as well as their personal lives.”

Should a loss of child occur, this policy will entitle the pregnant employee to two weeks of paid leave. The policy also extends to employees who are the partner of a pregnant individual who has lost a child to entitle them to one week of paid leave. This leave can be flexible to suit to needs of the individual’s recovery following a pregnancy loss event.

As the FinTrU employee demographic continues to evolve, training has been designed and will be delivered to all Line Managers. This training will focus on those who manage pregnant people and their partners, those who have lost a child, and the appropriate and careful management of the employee’s return to work.

Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi‐award winning RegTech company in the Financial Services sector that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on the global stage with the largest International Investment Banks. FinTrU works with clients to design solutions to help them meet their regulatory obligations in areas such as Legal, Risk, Compliance, KYC, Operations, Consultancy and Technology. FinTrU’s clients are all global Investment Banks, based in North America, Europe and Asia and the company’s business model is to provide technology enabled solutions to clients to augment and support their existing internal functions. Headquartered in Northern Ireland, FinTrU employs over 750 people across Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, London and New York. Read more about FinTrU at www.fintru.com

FinTrU recently received the Silver Diversity Mark for leading commitment to diversity and inclusion. Going forward, the aim for FinTrU is to continue to support employees to ensure that their place of work is as welcoming, supportive and open as possible.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Diversity Mark Signatory Roundtable Event ‘Gender Balance in STEM’

Thank you to everyone that attended our recent roundtable event ‘Gender Balance in STEM’. This event gave attendees the opportunity to connect with peers from other organisations and sectors, and share ideas, challenges and good practice around achieving gender balance in the STEM sector.

Diversity Mark signatories attending ‘Gender Balance in STEM’

During the session, signatories completed a poll advising the main challenges for them to achieving gender balance within their organisation. The top three barriers were listed as:

  • Talent Pipeline -so few women interested in applying

  • Girls not studying the relevant subjects/degree not suitable

  • Male dominated environment

The great news is that we are moving the dial within STEM. Looking collectively at four IT companies that joined us in the early days, Liberty IT, Allstate NI, Learning Pool and Outsource Solutions they have jointly increased their female workforce by 27% overall and by 30% specifically in senior management positions. All four companies have grown collectively by 401 employees since they joined Diversity Mark with 47% of all new hires being female, tipping the overall gender balance collectively in favour of women by 3%.

Thank you to Frank Fleming from the Equality Commission NI for his offer to help with policies, culture audits and training. Please CLICK HERE to find out more.

Attendees came away from the session with a list of over twenty practical tips, strategies and initiatives to review and implement where possible within their organisations.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

80,000 Employees To Gain Greater Inclusivity

We are delighted to announce that we recently reached a significant milestone with organisations signed up, working towards achieving and maintaining the Diversity Mark representing over 80,000 employees, with almost 40% of those companies based within the STEM sector.

Four of NI’s leading IT firms – Allstate, Learning Pool, Liberty IT and Outsource – have been accredited through Diversity Mark for over 2 years, and in that time have jointly increased their female workforce by 27% overall and by 30% specifically in senior management positions. All four companies have grown collectively by 401 employees since they joined Diversity Mark with 47% of all new hires being female, tipping the overall gender balance collectively in favour of women by 3%.

Launched in 2017 by Women in Business, Diversity Mark are now the leading authority in Diversity in the UK & Ireland and the accreditation recognises an organisation’s commitment to embracing diversity and creating an inclusive culture for all staff.

A McKinsey report published last year found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies.

Terry Moore – CEO of Outsource, Nichola Robinson – Director of Strategic Sourcing at Spirit AeroSystems and Diversity Mark Chair, Paul McElvaney – Group CEO of Learning Pool, John Healy OBE- Vice President and Managing Director of Allstate NI, Christine White – Head of Business at Diversity Mark and Willie Hamilton – Managing Director of Liberty IT.

Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark, said: “We are delighted to have reached this landmark milestone representing 80,000 employees. At Diversity Mark it is our mission to platform issues around inclusivity in the workplace and create equal opportunities for all. It is well known that having a diverse workforce can unlock greater innovation within a company, driving its performance and success. We look forward to further progressing in 2022 and are delighted to work with organisations new and old throughout the UK & Ireland as they continue their exciting journeys towards greater diversity.”

John Healy OBE, Vice President and Managing Director at Allstate NI, said: “Diversity is central to everything we do, and it’s needed now more than ever in the IT sector. As the first company in Northern Ireland to receive the Silver Diversity Mark, Allstate are committed to be the catalyst for change.

“In a sector where females are underrepresented, I am delighted to see the progress Allstate and the other companies have made to address this. The frameworks and resources provided by the Diversity Mark team have been invaluable in helping us to set goals, track performance and benchmark against other organisations. Allstate’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion will help drive change and attract more females to join the IT sector.”

Paul McElvaney, Group CEO of Learning Pool, said: “Our strong commitment to diversity benefits our entire company. We recently ranked as the top indigenous company in Northern Ireland to work for, and part of this success can be attributed to our dedication to inclusion.

“Diversity Mark’s accreditation programme has helped build on this ongoing commitment to maintain an inclusive culture. We’ve made significant investments in building a flexible workplace and nurturing a culture where everyone has equal opportunity to achieve their potential in terms of career growth, pay fairness, and skill building. In the current climate, it’s more important than ever to foster this kind of experience, where people feel valued and have a voice in what they do.”

Willie Hamilton, Managing Director at Liberty IT, said: “Partnering with Diversity Mark NI to achieve our accreditation has played a key role in pushing us even further in our DEI journey. We’re growing our teams and continuing to bring diversity of talent into our organisation is critical to this.

“We’re seeing improvements in gender balance across all job families including the Executive Team, and our Women in Tech Employee Resource Group have launched mentoring circles and a buddy programme, and our Talent team have introduced coaching and toolkits to support parents and those returning from a period of leave. Our DEI Council has just been established and I am excited to partner with this group to evolve DEI even further across Liberty IT.

Terry Moore, Founder and CEO of Outsource, said: “At Outsource we have always prided ourselves on our commitment to diversity, inclusion and the general wellbeing of our staff, our participation in the Diversity Mark accreditation journey has undoubtedly accelerated and placed more structure on the senior management team’s implementation efforts.

“With the support of the Diversity Mark team, Outsource are proud to be the only Managed Service and Security Provider in NI to have been awarded the Bronze Diversity Mark but as importantly we genuinely believe that this commitment to diversity and inclusion is and will continue to be a major advantage to us as we progress with our plans for Outsource and our ground-breaking OSG Cloud solution to grow nationally and internationally. For any company that genuinely wants to grow or attract the best candidates the Diversity Mark is a fantastic way to show you are a genuinely inclusive and welcoming place to work, where skills and talents from all sections of the workforce are actively encouraged and welcome.”

To learn more about Diversity Mark Accreditations please click here.

To sign up to become a Diversity Mark Signatory please click here.

Farrans Construction Wins National Award For Stem Education Programme On South Lake Leisure Centre Project

Farrans win Diversity and Inclusion in STEM award for South Lake Leisure Centre Project

Diversity Mark signatory, Farrans Construction has been awarded a STEM Inspiration Award for Outstanding Contribution to Widening Participation, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for its educational work carried out while on site at South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon.

Sponsored by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Awards celebrate the extraordinary individuals and organisations who support learning, raise aspirations, and illuminate careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The judges praised Farrans saying:

“While building the South Lake Leisure Centre in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, Farrans also incorporated a first-class education programme, looking to strengthen the local community and use STEM to boost children’s education and future career prospects. Lots of the activity centred on widening participation, from site visits and work experience, to engineering challenges and careers skills session. The judges praised the project as an exemplary case of building community engagement.”

Farrans Construction, a CRH company, is a leading building and civil engineering contractor with over 75 years’ experience of delivering world-class projects across the UK and Ireland. The company, which employs more than 500 people, has offices in London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Belfast with further site offices connecting its regional network.

Sarah Fearon, community business partner at Farrans, said: “We are extremely proud of South Lake Leisure Centre, a modern leisure facility which we delivered for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. As a responsible business, we always look for ways to have a positive impact on the communities we are working in. Our in-house Community Business Partner team look after stakeholder management, employment and skills development, community engagement and education outreach. We always engage with our clients and supply chain to create bespoke programmes which address the needs in the local area, and we were delighted with the level of interest that our STEM programme attracted on this project.”

The winners were announced by STEM Learning at an online awards celebration hosted by Tara Shine (presenter of the 2020 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and director of Change By Degrees) at 4pm on 20 May 2021.  The video on STEM Learning’s YouTube channel can be viewed below.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive Officer at UKRI, said: “We are delighted to be supporting these Awards that celebrate the role organisations and individuals across the economy play in showcasing the variety of STEM careers and pathways to the next generation.”

“We have seen the power that STEM has demonstrated in being able to address the huge problems that we have faced in our society and across the world in recent times.  Bringing together the necessary skills and expertise has been crucial and that is why it is so important that the STEM community is as diverse, creative, and dynamic as possible. Our personal thanks to the organisations and individuals who play an important role to support this.”

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive of STEM Learning, added: “Despite the challenges we have all experienced this year, I am delighted that we are recognising the achievements of individuals, organisations and clubs that have continued to inspire young people virtually – and face to face when they have been able to.” 

“I am particularly pleased to celebrate the Award presented to Farrans for their outstanding contribution to widening participation, diversity and inclusion in STEM – a topic particularly close to my heart.”

A full profile of each of the winners can be found at: https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-inspiration-awards.

For more information on how individuals and employers can engage with the STEM Ambassador programme, please visit www.stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors

You can also follow on social media at @STEMAmbassadors