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How to fight diversity fatigue

?Organisations must fight to overcome 'diversity fatigue', according to the BBC's Toby Mildon

Speaking at the CIPD annual conference in Manchester, BBC diversity and inclusion lead Toby Mildon explained that diversity is more than just ticking boxes. "Diversity isn't a case of them and us," he said. "It's not us and the women, or us and the BAME people. You are just as diverse as anyone else; we all have different backgrounds.

"The problem is when people say 'I get diversity, I get that it adds to the bottom line, I'm just bored of it."

He suggested some practical steps to combat this fatigue. "You must find your hook – the thing that really matters to your organisation," he said. "That might be creativity, or innovation, or growing the bottom line, but you can use that to start the conversation about diversity.

"You also need to treat diversity and inclusion like any other business project. You should treat this like a professional venture, and hard-wire it into your business."

He suggested that firms identify where diversity "leaks" occur in processes. "We created a blind test of skills at the selection stage of recruitment," he said. "It consisted of a task they would be expected to do in their first 100 days on the job. We saw a 300% increase in ethnic minority candidates selected for interview after introducing that."

Speaking at the same session, Ann Pickering, HR director at Telefónica O2 UK, reinforced the value of diversity. "The business case for diversity is a compelling argument," she said. "It really makes a difference to the bottom line, and it isn't difficult. Firms with good gender diversity are around 15% more profitable than those that [don't have good gender diversity]."

She added that a firm's make-up should mirror the composition of the people it serves. "The day a business is unable to understand its customers is the day it shuts up shop and goes home," she said. "In O2 we want our seven-and-a-half thousand employees to mirror the people we serve."