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Celebrating a major milestone on our diversity journey

By Nigel Heap, Regional Managing Director, Hays

We are delighted to have reached a significant milestone in our journey to build an even stronger culture of diversity and inclusion at Hays. Hays is now one of only 20 organisations in the UK to have achieved the National Equality Standard (NES), one of the UK’s most rigorous and prestigious accreditations for equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I).

At Hays we have always been proud of being a meritocracy, where the best can succeed regardless of their background. This accreditation is an important independent recognition of our commitment to this aim and to continually strengthening our culture of diversity and inclusion, and follows a two year journey to accreditation.

As recruiters we understand exactly how beneficial a diverse workforce is for organisations to succeed, and our research reiterates how important this is to employee engagement and retention. It’s something we know matters to our employees, and that our clients talk to us about daily. We know that a workforce where everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to succeed benefits individuals and the organisation as a whole, but like many organisations we had more to learn about how to be truly inclusive.

The journey to achieve this accreditation hasn’t always been straightforward, and along the way we have had to challenge ourselves to look closely at our organisation from top to bottom to ensure we are truly as fair and inclusive as we aim to be.

Here are some of the lessons we learned along our journey:

Embrace your challenges

As the saying goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure - and we weren’t measuring the diversity of our workforce as effectively as we could have been. Although we were confident in our fair and meritocratic culture, we didn’t have all the facts readily available to back this up. Implementing a more robust voluntary diversity monitoring process has given us a much clearer picture of where we are, and where we need to improve.

Commit for the long term

A truly inclusive culture cannot be created overnight, genuine change takes time to be established. We focused on long term changes that were embedded throughout our whole organisation, rather than short term fixes. Ensuring that everyone from our trainee consultants to senior leadership were on board for the journey was essential, as was a shared commitment to holding ourselves accountable for our progress. For example we introduced unconscious bias training for our hiring managers to ensure that our recruitment processes are truly fair.

Be an advocate for change

Building a strong culture of diversity and inclusion has not just been beneficial within Hays, but has helped deepen our knowledge of the ED&I challenges our clients face. Today, through our own diversity experts, events and thought-leadership, in addition to being an advocate of ED&I, we’re in a much stronger position to help advise our clients on their own journey to building a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Over the course of our journey to NES accreditation we have sometimes had to ask ourselves some difficult questions, and challenge our assumptions about our organisation. But today we have a much stronger culture of diversity and inclusion as a result, and are confident that we are a fair and meritocratic employer, where people can come to work for us in an environment where they can succeed, be rewarded, and be themselves.

We look forward to continuing our journey!

About this author

Nigel is Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and Chairman of Asia Pacific. He joined Hays UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. By 1997, he was Managing Director of Hays Australia, and consequently expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He became UK & Ireland Managing Director and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business in 2012. In 2018 Nigel was appointed Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and retains his position as Chairman of Asia Pacific.

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