The importance of ethnic and cultural diversity in the workplace

At Fujitsu, we believe in the power of human difference to create a better future in a digital and diverse world. Organisations have made some progress in fostering ethnic diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but we are all still well behind where we need to be, writes Rebecca Sinnatt, Fujitsu.

The justification most often put forward is that when vacancies occur, businesses receive virtually no applications from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities. Instead of being passive, organisations must be more proactive in the push towards harnessing a more diverse workforce.

In the UK, just 2.6% of people on tech boards are from ethnic minorities. Talent from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds are also more likely to be overqualified than their white counterparts, yet white employees are more likely to be promoted than all other ethnicities.

Diversity extends to all the things that make us who we are. Encompassing a rich mix of visible and non-visible differences that exist within our workforce, such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, social status and many other characteristics.

At Fujitsu, since gender diversity became a key focus, we have made great progress to create a more gender balanced organisation. That is not to say our mission is complete, but it does show what can be achieved when we put our minds to tackling underrepresentation in the workplace.

It is always useful to remind ourselves of the numerous benefits a diverse and inclusive workplace presents aside from the fact that it is simply how a workplace should be.

One of the clear cases for diversity and inclusion is to help organisations to better understand their customers and the societies they work in, allowing them to strengthen current relationships while also reaching new audiences. In fact, reports suggest that 70% of diverse companies are better positioned to capture new markets and increase profitability. Companies that endorse ethnic diversity are also 35% more likely to perform at a higher level and see above average profits.

While the business case is clear, the moral case is irrefutable. This is the right thing to do. Every person deserves recognition for their talent and skills, irrespective of their race or ethnicity.

To address this, Fujitsu has vowed to put diversity and inclusion (D&I) front and centre. We have set up an Ethnic Diversity Steering Board, where we have outlined a defined set of goals to be proactive in our enabling and supporting colleagues from Minority Ethnic backgrounds in the workplace. These include:

  • Connecting senior leaders to talent from a different ethnic background through reverse mentoring.
  • Regularly reviewing progress against actions and ensuring measurable improvements are being made.
  • Harnessing insights from our growing Cultural Diversity Employee Network to improve and empower racial equality at work.
  • Identifying how current policies can support a diverse workplace. For example, our ‘refer a friend’ scheme rewards employees for putting us in touch with any passionate candidates.

Words are not enough – we must be proactive in the action we take, to empower those who are underrepresented. In turn, this will inspire greater creativity, profitability and unity from our workplace – and our world.

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