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WPD has chosen to launch its new Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity commitments

With a national shortage of people qualified in STEM subjects, WPD can’t afford to miss out on any part of the potential workforce. But a diverse and inclusive workplace is about more than recruitment.

It’s about providing a workplace that gives everyone a level playing field to bring their gifts and talents to work – regardless of their gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, age or physical ability.

Diversity and inclusion adviser Jo Mainstone explained: “Diversity and inclusion is about everyone being able to come to work as themselves, feeling safe and feeling that they belong. Equity governs the principles we put in place to get there.”

Equity and equality aren’t quite the same thing. Equality is a blanket that covers everyone whereas equity tries to bridge the gap between each minority group and the majority.

“One way of explaining the difference is that equality provides an invitation to a party where only classical music is played while equity provides the same party-goers with a playlist that gives options to everyone,” said Jo. “It’s about being fair to the individual and not automatically making assumptions about them.”

With most potential recruits checking out a workplace online before applying, working to create an environment that staff find comfortable will eventually feed through to WPD’s reputation. A good reputation is one of the factors that attracts candidates – vital for roles where there’s a shortage of skilled candidates.

In addition, research regularly shows that companies with a diverse workforce, particularly at leadership level, consistently out-perform those that don’t.   

WPD is working with Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), which has developed a 10-step framework to help organisations increase the number of applications for STEM roles. Although the framework was originally developed for women, it applies to all groups protected under the Equality Act.

“We’ve already found that the questions asked from a diversity perspective give answers that are beneficial to everyone,” said Jo. “Diversity and inclusion are not about promoting one group at the expense of another – they’re about finding the gaps and taking everyone forward.”

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