THE highly-anticipated Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards 2023 will this year be presenting a prestigious new award recognising efforts to achieve net zero in Scotland.
As well as a moral and legal case for introducing more diversity in the workplace, there is also strong evidence that it makes businesses and other organisations more successful and more sustainable.
These reasons combined have prompted Crown Estate Scotland to sponsor a new category in the Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards which are now in their eighth year.
Scotland is committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and the award will recognise outstanding progress by organisations who are helping to bring greater diversity and inclusion into the workplace as the country heads towards net zero.
Crown Estate Scotland manages seabed, coastline, land, and other property on behalf of government, with revenue profits going to public spending. They work with a wide range of sectors and organisations in renewable energy, farming, tourism, aquaculture, forestry and more.
The decision to introduce the new award is timely as new research has revealed that net zero and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) go hand in hand.
Based on interviews with industry leaders, the research by National Grid and POWERful Women found that a more diverse workforce brings skills and diversity of thought to enable industry to find innovative solutions
that are fair and representative of society, which supports consumer buy-in and behaviour change.
The research also found that an equitable and inclusive workplace culture means talent is brought in, cultivated and retained more successfully.
“There is a moral case well as the legal case but there is a really strong business case as well,” pointed out Esther Black, Director of Corporate Operations at Crown Estate Scotland.
“Regardless of what your perspective and priorities are, there are lots of reasons for making sure that we bring different people and communities along with us in the transition to a net zero economy and society.
“Addressing climate change will require a lot of big changes over time in the way our economy works, the way we as individuals live our lives and the way businesses and other organisations operate. It’s really important when you go through these types of big changes that you have people with different backgrounds and experiences involved. It’s important that we don’t leave behind any group of people because that would not be a successful net zero transition.”
It is sometimes forgotten that sustainable development is not just about the environment and economy but – critically – it’s about communities and society too.
“It is not just blindly going for big changes to the environment that don’t take account of communities and people,” said Ms Black.
“If you try and do that and don’t bring along everyone in society it won’t work. If the change is going to be truly meaningful and transformational then it needs to involve everyone because, if it doesn’t, it won’t be sustainable and deliver the change we need.”
She added: “Time and time again research has shown that companies and other organisations that have more diverse workforces, including more diverse boards and leadership teams, are shown to be more resilient and to perform better.”
While the Scottish Government has done much to promote diversity and inclusion and many businesses and organisations have taken this on board, there has so far not been a major Scotland-wide award to recognise their efforts which is why Crown Estate Scotland felt it was important to introduce such an award.
“It is about celebrating excellence, progress and success and by doing that you inspire and give ideas to other organisations to follow,” Ms Black said.
She is keen to emphasise that this is not just for the larger businesses.
“There are lots of big organisations out there doing great work and we would encourage them to apply, but this is also for small charities, small businesses and social enterprises where they might be doing something that for them is quite modest in size or scale but is actually having a wider effect,” Ms Black said. “We would encourage a wide range of organisations to enter whether they are on the beginning of their D&I journey or some way into it.”
Applications are sought from companies, education establishments, NGOs and other organisations whose work directly relates to net zero sectors (e.g. energy, transport, construction, circular economy). Applicants should be able to demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion in their approach to skills, culture and organisational development, or through a contribution to wider sector development.
The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity awards, also sponsored by Arnold Clark, BAE Systems, Diageo & sportscotland, take place on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at DoubleTree by Hilton, Glasgow Central. Entries will open later in July.