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Diversity in the workplace post Brexit

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Familiarity could be said to breed content in the corporate world. However, Jane Crosby from law firm Hart Brown explores if surrounding yourself with people who support your way of doing things is a beneficial or limiting strategy.

You might think new staff taken on in the future should be just like you. But is the ideal employee your mirror image? Post Brexit, businesses are likely to need fresh thinking more than ever, as we now work in a dramatically changing landscape where:

Advances in technology mean firms need to be much more competitive
Embracing a diverse workforce that includes gender pay audits and discrimination laws is a requirement, not an option
Your customer/client base is not made up of just one personality type, gender or age range – so why should your business be?
It’s human nature to believe that you’re always correct. You might find it difficult to accept when a staff member questions the reason why you chose a particular path. But this type of thinking can lead to a narrow recruitment policy, where you only employ people who have a particular, and therefore limited, experience. Someone who fits your mindset – rather than being from a different background with a level of expertise that doesn’t match your own.

Time to expand horizons

Phrases such as ‘positive attitude’, ‘team player’, ‘fitting in’ and ‘friendly’ seem to be today’s HR buzz words. And it’s undoubtedly sound policy to recruit the type of people who will get on with each other and make projects work. But to be properly productive, other important aspects of the recruitment process must be considered:

Your workforce should represent the society in which we live – with its diverse range of backgrounds, ideas and opinions.
While often a useful recruitment tool, in the wrong hands, psychological profiling can be too prescriptive in defining a personality type and create an unconscious bias about what makes the perfect employee.
People are complex by nature and possess a range of traits and shades in their personalities.
It’s therefore vital for businesses to invest in training and development to help their workforce be comfortable and effective within their roles.
Grow in the ideas economy

A successful business is one that keeps up to date with new ideas and has a recruitment policy based on choosing people from different backgrounds and ages. That way it will benefit from more creative challenge – to help managers think more about what they’re doing, and whether they really are on the right path.

Consider the times, for instance, that a major project failed because team members did not feel they could openly question the rationale behind it. And how many hours have been wasted discussing ideas, which ultimately should have been quashed at an earlier stage?

Post Brexit, businesses are likely to need fresh thinking more than ever. And are more likely to succeed if they actively recruit a diverse workforce and allow their people the freedom to learn from each other.

After all, new UK Prime Minister Theresa May has embraced the value of choosing a diverse team for her new cabinet. And she’s keen to make boardrooms more representative of the workforce they manage and in tune with the customers they serve.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s worth reviewing how your company currently recruits. The benefits of taking on staff from all walks of life who are not ‘just like you’ could pay dividends.

In short

To be successful, businesses need to look beyond candidates that are ‘mirror images’ of their owners or managers
• Human Resources should use psychological profiling with caution – and maximise training to develop staff so they offer more than simply being a safe ‘team player’
• Drawing from a diverse pool offers organisations the creativity and perspectives they need for a future where change is the only certainty

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