Building inclusive teams can give businesses a competitive edge. Are you doing all you can?

17 March 2023

By Laura Kemp, Head of Operations at Innovation SuperNetwork

New government support to encourage more parents back into the workplace means it’s never been so important to ensure your equality, diversity and inclusion practice is up to date. This week (15th March 2023) the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announced new measures in his Spring Budget to support working parents with childcare costs and to bring those considered ‘economically inactive’ back into the work-place.

The opportunity this affords businesses to bring exceptional talent into their teams should not be underestimated. But often we must think first about how we’re building our teams and ask ourselves. ‘is our workplace open to people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse perspectives’.

At the Innovation SuperNetwork we are passionate advocates of diversity.

Henry Ford, one of the world’s most acclaimed innovators said, “if you do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got” and we couldn’t agree more. It’s easy to surround ourselves with people like us who think the same as we do. When we begin to introduce new perspectives, whether they come from different cultural backgrounds, neurodiverse perspectives or lived experiences, our ways of thinking and doing are challenged and change occurs.

Along with our partners Dynamo North East, through the efforts of Fareeha Usman, we have been working to better understand how diverse the North East tech sector is and what we can do to support small businesses to become more inclusive. Working with Fareeha during this time I have come to understand that talking about equality, diversity and inclusion is the starting point. It’s something I have always shied away from for fear of saying the wrong thing, but we must talk about it, to help it become more than just a policy or written statement.

Fareeha recommends appointing an EDI lead within your business, someone influential to inspire and drive action, who can ensure EDI is on the agenda at every meeting.

In just the same way that every person is individual, so is every business. That’s why Fareeha recommends beginning with your business’s own EDI mission statement. Ask yourself, if this is why we exist and what we believe in, how do we express our commitment to EDI?

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters Project delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork, a comprehensive toolkit has been created featuring simple templates to help make practical changes, underpinned by legislation and ethical responsibility.

The SWOT analysis is a great starting point to evaluate your organisation’s current diversity climate. This understanding will help you to create actionable goals to build into your EDI plan.

You can download the full toolkit here.

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