'EDI isn't a policy at diamond. Its our way of being'. By our CEO Kate.
In 1992 I started diamond despatch at aged 20. So I was one girl who clearly didn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t make it in this industry. But I soon learnt I had to be twice as good, to get half as much and indeed my friends say I have succeeded because I had to effectively ‘behave like a man’. But that was over 27 years ago, diamond continues to thrive when many of my male competitors have moved out of the industry. So I guess things have changed, right? Well no.
I was sent a web link introduction to a board of large logistics company recently and their headshot was exclusively middle aged white blokes. Frankly that headshot could be used for 90% of business in the logistics sector and when I commented on the lack of diversity of the board the Chairman said – yeah, we are working on that. I’m pretty sure its 2019 not 1950 – but the statistics are still pretty shocking right – let’s just deal with gender for the purposes of this argument – we are in an industry where only 24% of the workforce is female and only 8% of entrepreneurial leadership is female, therefore logistics clearly has a very long way to go.
The disparity in the industry is not just about numbers of men and women – it’s about elitism and exclusion of all logistics sector minorities at the mildest end, to harassment and intimidation at the severest. It’s about the closed networking shop of the old boy’s school – and about limiting people’s ability to succeed for the simple reason that they are not made in the logistics mould. It’s about behaviours that are unprofessional – aggressive even – and a culture of work hard play hard dinosaurs.
And look where that leaves us – we miss out on excellent talent in our sector because it appears onerous to our younger generations – because of its lack of diversity and modernity.
But there are of course exceptions – and diamond is one of those as this team shot last Christmas shows.
Let’s start with gender - diamond is clearly very different with its parity gender numbers in headcount, and even odder in its majority female board. But it’s not just about sexual equality.
Because it’s easy to think it’s just about men and women but a balanced workforce must incorporate family status, age, race, sexuality, religion, ability too. Age is no barrier in our business – we appreciate the sage wisdom of our older team, and we appreciate the energy of our younger team. Parenthood or looking after elderly parents, whether you are male or female, doesn’t limit your career options at diamond, nor does flexible working or other life choices – as long as the contribution that is made is equal to our investment in the individual.
It’s challenging to unpick the reason why diamond is a diverse and equal employer. I think our THREE core values are very important –
- Shared Success © – it’s all about mutually beneficial partnerships
- Being a great company to work with, trust and belong to – which states our commitment of how we will treat all stakeholders -placing people at the core of our business
- diamonddelivers – which focuses on results
By diamond committing to the above, living and breathing those values every day, we set out our stall from day one. We don’t have token by lines stating we are a diverse employer – because everything from our team photos to our recruitment adverts to our team numbers show we live and breathe it.
I asked my team if they had to share with you the one thing that made diamond so different to the norm, they spoke predominantly about empowerment of individuals. By not passing judgement on anything other than their ability – with encouragement and nurturing – to be the best versions of themselves which enables them to fulfil their ambitions via not just their employment journey, but their life journey shared with us here at diamond
At diamond diversity starts with equality, thrives on encouragement and is sustained by judgement of people purely on their maintenance of our values and delivery of results. Nurturing individuals and their behaviours naturally breeds those results.
We have men and women on flexible work days so they can do school runs, and men and women that have chosen to work part time for life balance reasons. We have employees from 18 to 64 but a predominance of 20-30 year old who are encouraged to pursue their ambitions as hard and as fast as they wish, but also as contained as they wish if they want to balance their lives in other ways. We have an incredibly diverse global culture mix in our business. We don’t tag people as old, millennial, female – this labelling is irrelevant. Its literally best person for the job. It’s all about results.
But why, some would argue, if it ain’t broke then why fix it – as they shuffle from their testosterone fuelled board meetings. Well it’s about future proofing your business - ensuring innovation, succession planning, recruiting the best, continuation and growth.
Logistics is not an industry that people dream of joining when they leave school – so recruitment and retention can be a challenge. My job role at diamond may be titled as CEO but I call myself the CTS – Chief Talent Spotter – because we only build our company as quickly as we can recruit the best candidates to help us build our business.
Creating a diverse workplace creates a desirable workplace. If your business is inspiring, fun, flexible, and can help people achieve what they want to in life, backed by their career with you then you massively expand the pool of people wanting to work with you.
In a period of near on zero unemployment recruiting at best is challenging. Attracting and engaging the right candidates, hiring at a speed that matches your companies growth is all about creating a strong employers brand so that people are magnetically attracted to your business. So then you don’t have to hire the best of a bad bunch – you can have the pick of today’s talent.
It’s also challenging and retaining great teams – as an aging population retires and is replaced by a younger generation that expect to stay in jobs for 2-4 years the employee churn is expensive. Turnover is statistically higher in underrepresented groups, where a scarcity of employees like them further up the food chain can be seen as a sign that they are not welcome, or that their ambition will have a ceiling.
If that wasn’t reason enough then let’s look at a company’s performance too. As the McKinsey Report shows - Ethnically diverse businesses are 35% more likely to earn above average income. Gender diverse companies 15% more likely. Teams with 50-50 gender numbers outperform teams in quality of work.
Diversity in the workplace also equips companies with the ability to connect better with their target audience – to speak their language. A diverse workforce is essential for industries like logistics – where our client pool is more diverse than ever – from global online start-ups to retailers, healthcare, etc. To communicate, you need to relate. To relate you need to understand. The more diverse your team the higher the probability that your company can speak their ‘language’, understand their needs.
Encouraging equality and diversity is not soft skills tokenism – it improves performance and secures a business’s future….. and its those compelling reasons that can ultimately persuade the middle aged white males boards that it’s time to move it up the agenda.
The number one thing you can do in your business is to not introduce a token diversity policy but a 100% equality policy. Live it, breathe it, mean it.
And to understand this - equality is not philanthropy – it’s good for business. Today, tomorrow and for all future generations in our diverse, beautiful society.