Sector News

For young job seekers, a potential workplace needs to be woke

July 18, 2019
Diversity & Inclusion

What are young workers looking for in an employer? Workplace culture is a high priority, behind only work-life balance and pay, according to a 2018 Confederation of British Industry survey of 1,000 17-23 year olds.

Both millennials and generation Z say diversity is also key to workplace loyalty, with 69% agreeing they are more likely to want to stay five or more years if working for employers perceived to have a diverse workforce, according to Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey Report.

But what is a diverse and inclusive culture? Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion policy adviser at the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a professional organisation that has helped to shape pay gap regulations), describes an inclusive culture as “supporting people to perform at their best as they will be able to be themselves and know their contribution is valued”.

And at the heart of inclusion is tolerance. A tolerant workplace is built on a diverse workforce, suggests Miller. “People with a diversity of identities, backgrounds and circumstances bring with them different perspectives which can challenge ‘group-think’ and lead to more innovative ideas.”

Asked in the survey which three areas most urgently needed to be addressed to improve diversity in business, young people showed a broad spread of concerns. In order of most-selected were: educational background, age, gender, disability, ethnicity, social background and social status, LGBT and religion.

Young workers believe that only formal legislation can adequately advance diversity, according to the survey. This includes mandatory gender pay gap reporting.

Some companies have also started voluntarily reporting their BAME (black and minority ethnic) pay gap – an important first step towards racial equality at work, says Miller, as it opens up the conversation on race. She adds: “It’s only when employers examine the data to unpick the core issues in their organisation and take action to address them that we will see change happen.”

According to a Resolution Foundation study BAME workers are losing £3.2bn a year in wages compared with white colleagues.

Aside from gender and BAME pay gap figures, what helps determine a commitment to diversity? Bex Bailey, a spokesperson for the Young Women’s Trust says: “[It can be] worth checking an organisation’s sexual harassment policy and complaints procedures.” She also suggests looking at its staff make-up and posing questions on its culture at a job interview.

Miller, meanwhile, suggests checking for the following: a commitment to flexible working; promotion of paternity and shared parental leave; a diversity statement combined with diversity within the organisation; the existence of employee networks or resource groups who work with the employer.

For young workers who want to help improve their workplace’s diversity, Miller suggests joining networks or resource groups, if they exist – or setting one up, if they do not. “You can also look for role models – people in the organisation who inspire you and who you can learn from.”

By Emma Featherstone

Source: The Guardian

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