The EW Group celebrates its 25th Anniversary!

Last night, at the top of City Hall in London Bridge, MD – Suzy Astbury – and Search Director – Abigail Barclay – went to get a fantastic insight into diversity in business today, topped off by a stunning view of the Thames.

The EW Group (Equality Works Group) was celebrating its 25th anniversary and we were delighted to be part of that celebration. Founded in 1992 by Jane Farrell and Annie Hedge, the organisation sets out to drive engagement with diversity in businesses, both in terms of their workforce and their customers. Not only is it a morally valuable exercise, driving equal opportunities regardless of demographics and background, but it’s a commercially valuable one too. We heard last night that companies with a balanced workforce in terms of gender diversity were 50% more likely to outperform, for example.

 

Their founding ethos was to never tell anyone off and the positive, motivating encouragement for change and development in the field of equality, diversity and inclusivity was tangible throughout the event last night.

 

The speaker line-up was nothing short of an inspiration. We heard from Tina Tchen, former Assistant to President Obama and Chief of Staff to the First Lady Michelle Obama with an incredible account of her push for diversity from the White House for the working lives of Americans. From a simple breakfast with her chum Obama, to rolling out legislation around employment benefits and launching the Council for Women & Girls with Michelle, her journey has impacted the way Americans think and behave at work to level out the playing field for employees.

Tina Tchen

We also heard from Mark Lomas, Head of EDI at HS2 and Chris Grigg, CEO of British Land, on the steps they have taken to increase diversity in their businesses. Hearing from both of them was a clear reminder that change has to come from the top and the CEO and Board has got to be 100% bought into the change, having it on the agenda in every single conversation. Blind CV testing and training in unconscious bias has been proven to increase the recruitment of women and a higher mix of ethnic backgrounds. In one case, we heard that blind CV testing increased the percentage of women being hired from 14% to 47%.

 

The overriding advice was that in order to make change happen, you must create a strong business case for it. Know the benefits of diversity to the business and what having a range of experiences and views means for the company. It’s likely that your customers are made up of a mix of backgrounds and so to understand them, why wouldn’t your staff be?

 

We have to plan for a more inclusive future and ending the night hearing from a 16 year old, from the Mulberry School, about her plans to become a surgeon and her thoughts on why diversity matters was the perfect end to the night, looking into brighter times ahead.