When I wrote my article in January about Equality and Diversity I never knew it would be received as well as it had. It was quite refreshing to see that people where thinking about Equality and Diversity and had thought my piece was ‘on the money’ as one person put it. Although grateful I wondered how I would match the success of my piece on Equality and Diversity? After hitting myself across the face a few times I realised it was not about matching the success but it was about writing what is important. It was then that I started to think about my course I completed in 2008 (Post Graduate Diploma in HR Management). I reference this because I received a distinction for two subjects Managing in a Business Context and Managing for results. Both subjects looked at the importance of people in organisational success. I began to think about what I thought where the perceived indicators for a good people management strategy to make an organisation a success?
Knowing the Demographics of Your Employees
It is quite interesting to know that some organisations do not give demographics any consideration Lawrence (1997:2) points out that despite the importance, sometimes critical role of demography, researchers often leave demographic variables “loosely specified and unmeasured, creating a ‘black box’ filled with vague, untested theories”.
It is important that organisations are aware of the demographics of their employees to improve engagement, equality and diversity and wellbeing. Demographic analysis is also important to show compliance such as equal pay reporting. Gender pay gap reporting legislation will require large employers to publish their gender pay gaps from 2018. The information will include the mean and median pay. There are organisations which are not prepared for this requirement and quietly hope it will all just go away.
One could argue that an organisation could greatly improve their success rate by greater understanding of their employees. Knowing what drives them, tailoring initiatives to better target their employees needs. For those entering the organisation, advertise positions so they appeal to everyone rather than having a narrow view of people required.
Succession also requires you to know who is within your organisation. Some employees may wish to retire taking their knowledge with them. Are organisations prepared for this? Have they created a knowledge bank based on information gathered by their more experienced staff? If an organisation keeps ‘line of sight’ on the demographics of its people succession planning can we woven into business strategy. A skills assessment can also be reviewed to ensure an agile approach to change and inform your training needs.
As a consultant I have worked for many organisations. Many of those organisations have created an ’employee voice’ process. This is an online process for employees to voice their opinion on the organisation. Employees have voiced that they do not bother to tell the truth or to even complete the online questionnaire because they don’t believe the organisation cares anyway. Lack of engagement is generally one of the reasons employees feel unhappy.
A caring organisation in my opinion is people centred and values the contribution of its employees. It invests in initiatives to help to support and develop their Employees. It has processes aligned to its values and ensures that employee are rewarded for their contribution to the success of the organisation. John Lewis Partnership would be what I would call a caring organisation. John Lewis Partnership run an Employee Ownership scheme which means the organisation is wholly owned by the people who work for them. In their constitution they state “the ultimate purpose for the business was to balance the happiness of all its members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business”. The Partnership is owned in trust for its members, they share the responsibilities of ownership as well as its rewards – profit knowledge and power”.
Having such an approach such as John Lewis Partnership breeds inclusivity and strong values which enhances empowerment and growth within an organisation. It also cultivates development without barriers. If I were to make a criticism of John Lewis Partnership it would be that they need to work on having a more diverse Board.
It has been well documented that Staff Networks are a positive way to improve employee engagement and increases profitability of an organisation. The Power of Staff Networks written by Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE highlights the importance of having an effective employee network. There are many organisations that have adopted the idea of staff networks such as, NHS, RBS, BT, TFL and many others. The networks fosters wellbeing and understanding through group discussion. Staff Networks also allow organisations to have a better understanding of their employees.
There seems to be an upward trend around staff networks which Cherron has put down to the willingness of organisations to improve their Diversity and Equality agenda. She believes that organisations such as the ones mentioned are striving to improve the employee engagement at work and champion staff development among those who feel they have been left behind.
I have written many times about the lack of action some organisations take when it comes to implementing strategies to ensure the rights of its employees. I reviewed articles of organisations commenting about how they plan to change their practices to ensure it is inclusive and supportive but in reality the results do not tend to match up to their statements.
2017 should be about being action focused, we can no longer let organisations say they are going to make change without holding them to account. An ‘Action Focused’ organisation will take account of their obligation to their employees ensuring that they support all those within it. The organisation will drive success by ensuring their employees support the vision and focus of the organisation which will in turn be supported by the policies and processes which will encourage staff to take positive action on behalf of the organisation.
An organisation that has a focus on its people as well as its finance will see the most success. The external view of the organisation will be enhanced and its attraction levels increased. I feel its no longer acceptable to be driven just by financial gain more emphasis should be given to the people in the organisation. This approach will have a positive effect on the community at large as the experiences at work can sometime dictate the behaviour of those working within it. I cannot state enough how important people champions are at all levels to ensure that the ‘Action Focused’ organisation embed the ethos completely into the company to guarantee a synergised solution.
About the Author
Dianne Greyson is well known HR specialist with significant organisational experience haven worked for the public and private sector for over 20 years. She has provided written advice to enquiries relating to HR issues for Personnel Today and made a contribution to Demystifying Diversity a book written by Jiten Patel and Gamiel Yafai. Dianne is also a Board Member for Certitude, a charity that supports mental and learning disabilities.
Dianne regards herself as a Equality and Diversity Champion that seeks to improve the capabilities of organisations and make them into ‘People Champions’. She believes more effort should be made to reflect society and eradicate divisions and negative behaviours in organisations.