How to foster a diverse workforce

A diverse workforce is crucial for business success, argues Leigh Lafever-Ayer, HR director at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Here's how to make sure that you consistently recruit the best people from a range of cultural backgrounds for your organisation.

by Leigh Lafever-Ayer
Last Updated: 03 Jul 2015

Having a diverse and inclusive business has been demonstrated to have hard bottom line impact. A recent study by the American Association of Management concluded that a mixture of genders, ethnic backgrounds, and ages in senior management consistently correlates to superior business performance in terms of gross revenues, market share, shareholder value, profit, productivity and the value of total assets.

However, many UK companies are still not getting it right throughout their organisation and especially beyond entry level. According to Race for Opportunity – part of Business in the Community - whilst one in eight of the UK's workforce is from an ethnic minority background, only one in 15 people from an ethnic minority background is in a management position and only 70 women sit on FTSE 100 executive committees, compared with 528 men.  

But even for those businesses committed to diversity, it's not easy. They can have a policy that says, ‘we wish to have a more diverse organisation that reflects the ethnic profile of the communities within which we operate’, but policies are not a magic wand and translating them into action is not a one step process.

In our experience, diversity is incremental to business success, underpins customer service and has a direct impact on sales.  Recognising this, we scope the general ethnic make-up of the local community around our 360 branches across the UK and reflect it in our recruitment efforts. If you prefer to promote from within, recruiting in this way ensures you have a diverse workforce from day one.

A key strategy is to recruit from a wide range of universities. It makes sense to not just focus on the ‘top’ universities - research shows that only a select group of ethnic minorities attend red-brick universities.  By casting the widest possible recruitment net, you can assemble a workforce that truly represents the UK today.

We also ise a ‘Diversity Scorecard’ to help regional managers ensure diversity remains a focus throughout the recruitment process. This is a guide to a consistent and tangible framework for evaluation and measuring the success of local programmes. The scorecard has already helped us deliver real results: 22% of recruits so far this year and 14% of our total management are from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds.

A diverse culture has to start from the top and be intrinsically tied to an organisation’s values. But it is only by making diversity a fundamental part of ongoing business strategy that an organisation can develop a truly inclusive culture.

Why not start today?

Leigh Lafever-Ayer is HR director at Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Image: BigStockPhoto

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