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Is your organisation ready for a more diverse workforce?

Published on: 5 May 2021

Diverse workforce

We know that building a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do. It also makes good business sense, as it helps instil a sense of belonging for employees, ultimately leading to increased productivity and greater profitability for companies. In fact, an unequal workforce negatively impacts everyone, through restricted productivity and employment levels, as well as GDP growth. Recent calls for improved visibility and inclusion within organisations have led to successful initiatives that raise awareness of the gaps that need addressing, as well as increasing workplace diversity. But there’s a lot more work to be done.

At Manpower, we’re helping organisations address issues within their hiring practices and company culture, which could be negatively impacting their ability to attract a highly skilled and diverse range of workers. For example, our Driver Academy programme and our Women in Driving Development Pathway are creating the next generation of driving talent for the UK and encouraging a more diverse workforce within the logistics sector. We also stay on the pulse of what employees want and prioritise from work, to help employers evolve their organisations to fit the expectations of workers. The annual What Workers Want report from ManpowerGroup surveys 14,000 individuals across 15 countries to understand what attracts them to an organisation, what keeps them there and how that varies by geography, gender and at different stages of their career.

However, before any new programmes are introduced, leaders and their organisations must review existing norms and structures to see if the company is ready to implement changes that will help improve a workforce’s diversity.

We’re asking five questions to determine whether your organisation is ready and properly equipped to welcome a more diverse workforce.

1. Do you have flexibility in place?

Every worker’s situation is different. We know from the thousands of drivers we work with every year and from our own research that what workers want varies by age, gender and geography.

The majority of age groups surveyed for the recent ManpowerGroup research, What Workers Want, stated that flexibility was a key consideration for them. Whether this is younger Xers (age 35-44) who want flexible start and finish times to accommodate other personal responsibilities, or millennials who are attracted to organisations which aren’t restricted by a rigid 9-5 working day, if you value attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, it is important that you’re equipped to offer flexibility.

2. Are you aware of the barriers to entry for female workers?

On average, female LGV students pass at a higher rate than their male counterparts – nationwide female pass rates were at 60%, yet a female driver still finds it difficult to access the logistics jobs market, with only 1% of the LGV driver pool made up of female professional drivers. And those statistics aren’t unique to the logistics sector. We know that women are hugely underrepresented within STEM, for example, and it’s critical to recruit more female role models to inspire the next generation of workers within these fields.

3. Do you have the right company culture?

Processes and policy are important for ushering in a more diverse workforce, but company culture still reigns supreme.

That said, it is important to look at where women or BAME workers are underrepresented and assess what process changes are required to shift the balance. What structures within the recruitment process could be limiting who feels comfortable and eligible to apply? Do you only consider an applicant who meets the exact candidate profile, or would you value soft skills and are the systems in place to upskill your workforce?

In terms of the culture you foster, do you have mentors from diverse backgrounds across the business that can help new employees settle into their role and provide facilities, onboarding and cultural support? Are these same people being developed so they can show empathy to their colleagues?

In addition, while women remain the primary caregivers in many homes across the UK, managers must engage these employees with open conversations about their careers and the responsibilities they face outside of the workplace. A culture of listening and understanding must be fostered across the board, to create an environment where flexibility can flourish alongside productivity.

4. Do you have the right management in place to handle a multi-generational workforce?

Recent ManpowerGroup research found that worker priorities and objectives change drastically with age.

More than one-third of workers surveyed globally stated that they consider ageism to be one of their biggest career challenges. To assist workers of different ages, a management team needs to be in place that’s well-equipped to hear and respond to different needs.

Within the LGV driver population, there’s an average age of 54 and of that, around 40-45,000 are over the age of 60. The need for management teams that understand the needs of different age groups, as well as more flexibility, has increased since the pandemic in order to ensure more of this workforce can be retained and to avoid creating a huge void of skilled talent.

5. Are you aware of how COVID-19 has impacted workers’ priorities?

The past twelve months have seen the routine of nearly all companies and workers uprooted. As demands have shifted and schedules reimagined, reviewing existing practices to see if they’re fit to meet changing expectations should be a priority for organisations.

There is some anecdotal evidence that skilled EU drivers have begun to migrate out of the UK, with Germany and Holland being top of the preference list. This is partly due to more beneficial contract terms and a closer proximity to their home country. We’re also expecting retirement numbers to increase, prompted by the pandemic. On average around 10,000 drivers retire or semi-retire each year, but within the next 12 months an estimated 12-15,000 could take retirement in favour of improved lifestyle options, which will significantly change the logistics sector.

Although much progress has been made to create more diverse and inclusive organisations across the UK, there’s still a long way to go. And here at Manpower, we can help you address these complex issues and become an employer of choice to a diverse range of candidates. As a global leader in the recruitment industry, we pave the way in the world of work. With offices spread throughout the country, we work with a breadth of clients across different sectors, making our expertise unrivalled. Contact our team today to learn how we can support you to shape your organisation into one that’s truly diverse.