An inclusive workplace is key to sustaining a diverse workforce which reflects the customers they serve – leading to happier customers, happier employees, and sustainable business success.Making this journey to diversity isn’t always easy, and it’s important for organisations to share best practice. So we were delighted to host our first “Inclusion Motivates” event back in February, which gave colleagues and external attendees from a wide range of organisations the chance to hear from inspirational leaders, network and celebrate each other’s successes.
Two months on from the event, we wanted to catch up with those who’d taken part to check in on what they’d learned and to continue the discussion of why workplace diversity is so important. I spoke to Action for Children’s Claire Cahill, a member of the charity’s Celebrate LGBT network; and Martyn Loukes, Chair of Transport for London’s (TfL) LGBT network OUTBound, to get their input.
“I thought each of the four speakers were really inspiring in their own way,” said Claire. “I left feeling very energised – I thought it was successful for the network as a whole and I took away a bundle of things for myself.
“For me inclusion is about everybody feeling respected and valued for who they are, what they believe in and what they stand for, and knowing that’s safe in the organisation they work with.
“It’s a key driver for all members of staff with us – our business is making sure children, young people and their families feel included in society. Our job is to empower them to make choices for themselves – and this mirrors our own staff team.
“On top of that, you don’t have to expel any energy on editing what you say to people when you go into work. It means you can just carry on doing everything as yourself with your everyday job.”
Martyn Loukes, Chair of Transport for London’s OUTbound LGBT network, said: “By having inclusive workplaces it creates a diverse workforce. If we weren’t inclusive with our own staff, where would we be with our customers? On top of that it makes it so much easier to be yourself at work.
“Inclusion is important because you need to respect the rich diversity of the universe around you. You respect the people you meet, and in life you lead you can meet all sorts of people.”
Claire spoke about how making inclusion integral to a company’s culture leads to a number of benefits: “Having a diverse workforce means diversity of ideas, perspective and challenges. Really for us it’s all about reflecting the communities we serve.”
At Action for Children the charity partners with Stonewall, who are helping to develop its Celebrate LGBT network. At TfL, as well as a strong network, they created ‘the world’s first Rainbow bus’ – designed to show the public that both TfL and Stagecoach are LGBT friendly.
“We launched a Twitter account to engage with people and community groups,” Martyn said. “I like to think our network is leading by example, and our communications are very strong. There is more to come – we’re not stopping at a bus! I can’t reveal what it is, but the aim is to make the headlines.”
Both agreed that for organisations wanting to create an inclusive working environment, it is senior managers who have to take a leading role.
“Inclusion is vitally important for senior managers to understand,” said Martyn. “They should be leading by example. As Chair of a network and a senior manager myself I use every opportunity I can to talk about the work we do. I’m proud to be part of an organisation that feels like it represents them.”
Claire added: “It’s about senior managers being role models but also ensuring that the decision makers are able to influence policies and procedures.
“We want to protect and support our workforce – the knock-on effect is that we can do the same for the families we work with.”
Following such positive feedback from guests who attended February’s event, at Fujitsu we are already thinking about the next one!
To stay in touch with our activity here at Fujitsu, it’s @ShineLGB – do tweet us if you have any questions or comments.
He is a BITC Business Connector alumnus, has played a leading part in development of Fujitsu’s Responsible Business and Diversity and Inclusion approach, and is engaged in enhancing Fujitsu’s UK STEM engagement approach.
Martin joined Fujitsu in October 1996.
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