By Joanne Lockwood


Let’s assume for one moment that you are thinking about the need to develop your business to be representative of your customer base, or the community in which you serve. And let’s face it, that is a big assumption – many organisations still don’t realise the opportunities that come from enriching their numbers with people of varying experience and background.

I would like to challenge the term “diversity hiring”. What is that about? Often it means hiring more women, or people of different skin colour or sexuality.

But since when have women be a diverse hire? We make up approximately 50 per cent of the population and potential workforce, yet still we talk about women as being “diverse”. I would like to ask organisations to consider using the term “underrepresented”, rather than “diverse”.

READ MORE: Busting the myth of meritocracy is a must 

If your boardroom and senior leadership does not have sufficient voice from women and non-white people, then they won’t be able to influence direction and strategy, let alone be the role models providing aspiration for others to follow in their footsteps.

Maybe – just maybe – this is on your agenda, but how are you tackling it? Do you collect metrics and track progress? I am certainly not in favour of quotas or targets, but to give focus to any business imperative there must be a “why”.

Why does your business or organisation want to strive to amplify and bring in people from underrepresented communities or groups?

Yes, it is the right thing to do, the human factor. But as we know this only goes so far in business, so we also need to have an ROI, the “why”, to ensure that this becomes a sustainable way of working.

READ MORE: We must go beyond ‘How are you today?’

Let’s consider for one moment that by being more representative of society, your customer base or service users, it is going to allow your organisation to adapt quickly to their needs, be able to seek out opportunities for new products or to enhance the service you are already delivering.

Additionally, we can throw into the mix that when an organisation aligns its culture of inclusion and belonging, then its people will bring their passion and purpose with them. They will believe in the organisation and are more likely to stay and be engaged.

What can you do as an organisation? Get this on the agenda, tracked and part of your strategic goals. Positive action and targeted recruitment are good starts, but look at your own culture first and make sure you are fit to handle difference of thought and perspective in order to retain great people.

Joanne Lockwood is an inclusion and belonging specialist with SEE Change Happen