Referencing the Time's Up movement, which came about as a response to sexual harassment across various sectors, Henke said it's time to start listening to underrepresented voices in the workplace to implement better D&I strategies.
“Societal changes will always influence the world of work. We’ve recently seen some appalling behaviour in several different industries, showing that diversity and inclusion and transparency have never been more important,” she said.
“It’s an understandably worrying time for a lot of people, but we can also see this as an opportunity to hear people’s stories, and to use them to make changes.”
Hays recently became one of 30 organisations accredited to the National Equality Standard (NES). The NES was developed by EY alongside other businesses and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Achieving the accreditation involves assessment across seven standards.
“Since gaining recognition from the NES we’ve had so many organisations approach us and say ‘how can we embrace D&I in our workforce?. It’s obviously a very complex area, but it starts with having the confidence to change,” Henke said.
“Approaches towards diversity and inclusion have changed rapidly for the better. Businesses are starting to realise the value of diversity in the workplace, in terms of how it can make for a better workforce and create more profit.”
Henke encouraged businesses to use data to analyse where they can improve diversity.
“Getting data is important; because until you’ve got those figures showing how many people of different religions, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and class backgrounds you’ve got in your organisation, you just won’t know where you need to improve,” she said.
“It can be an uncomfortable area, and it requires a bit of bravery, but you need to confront the issues of where your organisation could be doing more to encourage people from certain backgrounds.”
Henke also recommended a blind CV approach, and encouraging businesses to focus on their organisation’s overall goals.
“It’s still important for businesses to stay true to who they are culturally; D&I does not mean changing who you are as an organisation," she said. "We’re clear that we want a meritocratic approach focused on skills, where we get the right people regardless of their background. Once you start doing that you’ll see quick wins.”