It should come as no surprise to any of us that increased inclusion in the workplace brings a vast range of benefits to everyone. Workplaces where people from all backgrounds can be themselves, be treated fairly for their contribution and perform to the best of their ability are more productive and make better decisions, as these diverse teams draw on a wider range of ideas and experiences. That’s why I’m proud to support the See Potential campaign and its new toolkit to encourage businesses to think differently about how they recruit.
The CBI’s report Time for Action: the business case for inclusive workplaces sets out this case as well as the clear benefits to our workplaces and local communities. The power and potential of business to make a huge difference to society through recruiting people based on their potential alone, rather than on their background, isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s complete common sense.
With so much talent out there, businesses are rightly working to identify and encourage people from all walks of life. Those firms who are already training, employing, or offering work experience report that those traditionally thought as furthest from work, such as ex-offenders, make some of the most loyal and hardworking employees they have. Day in, day out, business leaders exuberantly recount how being more inclusive has led to a more engaged, enthusiastic and productive organisation.
Examples like Greggs the Baker are becoming more commonplace. They began working with offenders and ex-offenders on their Ready for Work programme, providing training and giving them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. When it was apparent how much potential the participants had, Greggs began taking them on as employees.
Wates Construction recognised the value of work for ex-offenders’ confidence, as well as the potential to support prisoners into a number of industries. Setting up a small charity through Wates Giving, they founded the UK’s only in-prison stonemasonry workshop, recognising a lack of quality stonemasons in the construction industry. By responding to industry need in this way, Wates was able to ensure that offenders are getting skills that will directly help them find a job upon their release.
There are many more employers now getting involved. These firms are not only doing a lot to change the lives of the individuals they support into work, but are positively contributing to their local communities. See Potential does fantastic work with a number of these employers, and the CBI will be publishing case studies over the next few weeks.
If you are an employer, I urge you to take a look at your current recruitment practices and consider what more you could be doing. Open recruitment and inclusion means more than just eliminating direct discrimination that is already illegal – it’s about opening doors and removing unnecessary barriers, and ensuring that practice and culture does not indirectly disadvantage anyone.
The first step can often be the hardest, but See Potential’s new toolkit is a great guide to help employers recruit more openly, and to reap the benefits both for their business and for society. It offers practical advice on getting buy-in from your leadership team, assessing existing recruitment practices, and taking steps to make improvements.
As businesses, we have a responsibility to open up the opportunities that exist and take the time to understand the needs and challenges of our local communities. My aspiration is that the See Potential campaign will encourage even more businesses to do so.