Becky Brooks, member engagement manager, Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei) talks to Reward about the issues of diversity and inclusion facing today's employers


What are the key areas that employers currently need to address to have a truly equal and diverse workforce?

Things have moved on from equality, to diversity and now to inclusion. When the Equality Act was first implemented it was all about compliance: but most employers are complying now with the legislation, so what happens next?

Currently there is a huge focus on women following The Davies review, which ensures that women are on boards and has taken steps to close the gender pay gap – and there is now a need to apply the same principles and effort to disability and race.   

Diversity is about making sure we are reflecting the changing shape of the UK population, and hence the UK customer base, in our employees. The workforce shape has changed significantly and is continuing to do so: whether that is from an ethnicity, age or religious perspective. Layered on top of this the UK workplace is changing as we are working towards agile working, social inclusion and intergenerational inclusion. 

What HR practices and employee benefits could be implemented to support equality in the workforce?

Employers need to be ensuring their policies and practices are attracting a diverse workforce and once they have one they need to ensure their reward systems are flexible enough to reward and motivate their workforce’s needs. This means they should review their HR strategy, policies, practices and specifically their employee lifecycle is reviewed to reflect this. 

So how can employers delivering business performance and protect the bottom line while promoting these HR practices?

The biggest issue in the lifecycle is with promotion, recruitment and retention, as these directly impact positively both on business performance and the bottom line. In particular they should be ahead of the game and look at making sure they have leadership teams that practice inclusive leadership. This is where employees feel fully included in their workplace, leading to higher productivity, engagement and ultimately profit. 

Looking to the rest of 2016 – and beyond – what government policies should employers be watching out for in the coming months that will affect their decision making?

The Government is potentially looking at guidance on social inclusion, clarity on race/caste and refinement of the gender reassignment/transgender language. From an ethnicity perspective many employers have already committed to the BAME 2020 commitment (20% representation by 2020). 

In terms of pay, the UK national living wage will impact on employer’s strategy on employment of under/over 25 year olds, while gender pay gap reporting is about to be set into law with first full reporting due by April 2018.

So there is lots of potential change coming and employer’s need to be ahead of the game and seek advice from their experts such as enei!

Becky Brooks is member engagement manager at enei, working with over 50 organisations to develop their diversity and inclusion focus, and leads enei’s agenda on disability. Prior to joining enei, Becky ran her own business following a career which encompassed Head of HR positions at BAA, Royal Bank of Scotland, TK Maxx and Spirit Pub Company and Vice President – HR (UK & Europe) at AIG.

Becky has over thirty years of experience across the HR agenda and now complements enei’s team with her extensive understanding of the corporate world. Her commercial knowledge and experience enables her to engage D&I sceptics, balancing the development of inclusive working practices with commercial priorities.

Becky will be speaking at Reward Live 2016 discussing these issues and how HR directors and employers can create a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Becky is the opening keynote, speaking at 10.05 on Wednesday 11 May. Reward Live takes place at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS