With a significant rise in remote working organisations are being presented with an unexpected opportunity to improve the diversity of their workforce provided they can embrace the “new normal” of teams and individuals working remotely. In this article we explore the positive impact that the “new normal” has on ethnic diversity and this will be followed up by looking at the same approach from the angle of disability.
Like a lot of industries, the charity sector has had a spotlight focused on the lack of ethnic diversity of their teams at all levels. This is a product of many different factors but a big driver has been the London centric nature of recruitment with a large number of head offices based in the capital. Research from Centre of London in 2018 showed that “nearly half of charities that work both nationally and internationally are based in the capital.”
An outcome of this is that charities are competing with lots of other organisations for a finite pool of talent. This will impact on your ability to not only recruit for functional skills – e.g. there are only so many IT specialists based in the city – but also ensuring you are generating diverse shortlists. You can have the most inclusive employer brand, diversity champions and use specialist advertising but if everyone else is fishing in the same pond then you are severely limiting the scope of your candidate pool.
By embracing remote working and thinking about recruiting from outside of the capital organisations will remove that limit - it gives them the opportunity to be far more targeted in their approach to advertising and recruiting a diverse workforce. It is a really simple and straightforward way to immediately improve the diversity of your recruitment shortlist. For example, next time you are recruiting a role think about advertising it in Leicester – a location that has been described as an ethnic majority city. According to the last census only half of Leicester’s population describe themselves as White British compared with 80% nationally.
With the ongoing debate about how appropriate 'BAME' is as a collective term for people of colour, you could take this approach to an even more granular level by focusing your recruitment on areas and locations that have a higher population of people from a background where you are specifically lacking representation in your workforce. For example, using the census data again we know that just over 25% of the people who describe themselves as Chinese that live in the UK live in just 13 local authorities – with Manchester and Birmingham being the top two locations.
No one can really know what the world of work will look like over the coming years, however, a lot of indicators are that remote working in some form will be here to stay. At Prospectus, we are working within the sector to support organisations to diversify their workforces and allow real change to happen; if this pandemic has taught us anything it is to seize and embrace the opportunities presented to us, and to drive these changes forward, because when it comes to priorities, diversity, equity and inclusion should be high up on everyone's list.