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Practical Examples

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Therese Proctor HR Director for Tesco referred to the recent campaign ‘Be yourself at Tesco’ and the success they had had in launching their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) support network.  Initially they put up posters inviting people to support meetings but this didn’t work well.  Then they were approached by someone who was looking for support but was not yet ready to come out to their colleagues.  The idea of an anonymous website ‘Out at Tesco’ came from this approach; it’s run by volunteers from the LGBT network and has proved very successful in providing mutual support.  This is a simple example of Proctor’s belief that ‘You make the most difference, by doing lots of small and simple things’.

David Fairhurst, Senior VP and Chief People Officer (Northern Europe), McDonald’s restaurant Ltd, explained that McDonald’s ‘hire the smile’ and focus on whether someone has the right attitude rather than any other characteristic.  They do not work to diversity targets but they do undertake considerable analysis of the performance of their restaurants. McDonald’s want to know what difference their people make to the success of a restaurant and they know that a diverse staff group attracts a diverse customer base and increases repeat business.  Their people strategy and interventions are driven by this understanding.  Fairhurst believes that ‘once you have a diverse workforce it’s relatively easy to sustain because you establish a virtuous circle’.

The MPS bought a couple of buses and converted them to recruitment buses and took them to different areas of the city to recruit police officers.  The bus allowed people to find out about working for the police, dispelled some myths and offered initial interviews where people were assessed against eligibility criteria such as being resident for 3 years in the UK.  This played a significant part in increasing applications from under-represented groups.

Caroline Waters, Director of People and Policy, BT Group, recently honoured with an OBE for her services to equality gave a number of powerful examples of what you can do to address diversity across all the diversity strands.  Waters attributes her successes to ‘never asking for permission and always being prepared to ask for forgiveness!’ she went on to explain that when you have 100,000 employees working across 66 countries you need to be pragmatic.  BT’s strategy is to aspire to achieve the best standards in each country they operating in; which they achieve, rather than trying for a single international standard.

Croydon Council has been successful in recruiting a workforce that more than reflects the local community.  This was possible because of some high profile successes and individuals who were prepared to be role models and to sponsor others in achieving the experience needed to be successful in their own right.  ‘This is clear evidence of success breeds the confidence to have further successes’.