Bingham: 'Diversity should be at the heart of business'

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A leading diversity campaigner has encouraged HRDs and MDs to see diversity as more than a statistic and to integrate it into the business agenda.

Ernst & Young managing partner for people, UK and Ireland Liz Bingham, who was awarded an OBE for services to equality in the workplace, said diversity needs to be at the heart of business rather than a side agenda.

“[It’s about] getting a seat at the right table with the right dialogues going on about how all of this fits together,” she told HR magazine. “It fits with external stakeholders' requirements to see more diversity rather than it being a ‘let’s be nice to the women or some minority group’.”

Bingham said there needs to be a broader focus on diversity in business, whether it be visible, non-visible, identifiable or non-identifiable. She said the challenge is to measure what managers focus on and move beyond gender diversity.

“Second to that is ethnicity. However, you rely on people self-identifying as a particular ethnicity. Then there are people self-identifying as gay or disabled. We should broaden our thinking,” she said.

“We need to focus on the pipeline of talent rather than just say ‘we need to sling X percentage of ethnic minority on this board or Y percentage of women’. We need to do it in a credible and sustainable way.”

Bingham applauds HRDs that have paid attention to the diversity agenda “for waking up to the fact that this is about better business”.

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