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23rd August 2018

Diversity: celebrating an inclusive workplace.

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Creating an inclusive workplace ensures everyone is given the best opportunity to succeed and by doing so a business will create a highly diverse company in which employees are happier, more productive and loyal. To celebrate Manchester Pride Week, digital agency e3creative hosted an industry event for leaders to come together and share insight and success stories relating to the broad topic of diversity. The evening wasn’t about raising awareness of the lack of diversity but instead an opportunity to showcase the positivities.

The event followed a casual open-discussion format for the group of 35 forward-thinking participants to become acquainted, share insight and debate over best practices. To spark conversation e3creative Account Director Katy White facilitated the talk and arranged for a handful of innovators to share their experience with the room. These representatives included:

  • Head of Diversity and Inclusion at ThoughtWorks UK Amy Lynch contributed heavily to the conversation with her wide knowledge bank. The globally operating software development company has constructed their Manchester office with inclusion at the heart. Their floor plan is fitted with room to fit two wheelchairs side-by-side, the placement of shelves and cupboards are strategic to suit people with different heights, there are gender-neutral bathrooms, labels are available in braille, and the list goes on. Amy guided attendees on how to make small changes in their workplace that have the potential to make a large impact.
  • Senior Marketing Manager at MediaComm Jen Whyley spoke about the organisation’s focus on breaking the barriers associated with mental health in the workplace with a focus on inclusivity. Jen referenced the organisation’s ongoing internal campaigns to make their staff more aware of mental health and how to best listen and support their colleagues. MediaCom has trained 40 of their staff to become mental health allies. This group is there for staff to reach out to in confidence if anyone needs to chat with someone completely impartially. This venture sparked debate on what it means to be an allie and how the concept can be applied to other areas of diversity.
  • Tech Coach / UI Development at TechReturners Laura Kenny referenced the skills development and practical training programme available for people looking for new opportunities following a career break. This initiative has been a great asset to the community by filling the skills shortage with mums or others that have taken leave from work. After returning to the workforce, especially in a new remit, it can be intimidating and the course curriculum is designed to build confidence alongside practical skills. Laura recited a list of success stories stemming out of TechReturners, including one participant that was a Maths teacher and went on to get a job as a UAT Tester at AO.
  • Head of Diversity & Inclusion at UKFast and Programme Lead at Tech Manchester Patricia Keating spoke about her role in one of Manchester’s largest tech enterprises that’s on the Sunday Times Top 100 list of Best Companies to Work For. The Cloud hosting firm is building a second office next to their present one and is now working with the architects to incorporate elements of diversity in their plans.
  • Head of PR & Communications at e3creative Valerie Lalonde explained e3creative has partnered with the Manchester Youth Zone and developed a tech lab in their facilities with the latest equipment. The youth centre is located in one of the most deprived areas in the UK and unfortunately a large number of their members face adversity, often have disabilities and a skewed vision of success. The agency allocates staff to come in regularly to lead coding club for aspiring developers and encourage them to dream big.

The agenda for developing a diverse workforce has evolved from a recruitment KPI, an outdated mentality that doesn’t promote positive behaviour, to businesses now prioritising the creation of accepting workplaces which consider unique needs and appeal to diverse talent. Fuelling this change is new research into the positive impact inclusion and diversity have on decision-making. Recent studies reveal companies can make better decisions 87% of the time and drive decision making twice as fast with half the meetings.

Those in attendance speculated over the reasons why output is increased and reached the conclusion that a diverse group of people approach situations more thoroughly, from a different perspective to represent a more human-centric point of view. This same reasoning relates to the quality of the output, since having a workforce comprised of people with different backgrounds, experiences and skills mean the ideas generated by these teams won’t be homogenous – they’ll be innovative and creative. That impact has definitely been noticed at e3creative, as the agency has doubled headcount in less than a year. The rapid growth has changed our agency culture for the better, nurturing a truly collaborative working environment, with a broad range of skills, backgrounds and perspectives uniting for more creative outputs.

Feedback from those in attendance has been extremely positive with most people leaving the event on a positive note and feeling a sense of empowerment in their ability to make real change. Additional comments should sent to the team at e3creative or join the meetup group to continue the conversation and connect with those in attendance.