Diversity ‘is worth billions’ to the Scottish economy

WORKPLACES that are more diverse and inclusive have the potential to deliver an eye-watering boost to the economy, the first national conference on equal opportunities for people regardless of gender, age, ethnic background, disability or orientation has heard.

Nearly 200 delegates at The Herald and GenAnalytics Diversity Conference heard that closing the gender pay gap could be worth £6.5 billion to the economy while increasing levels of employment among people with disabilities by only five per cent would add a further £5bn by 2030.

In addition, there would be a further £24bn gain from the full representation in the British workplace of black people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds. Dr Lesley Sawers, Executive Chair of GenAnalytics, which works with business to deliver diverse workforces, described the potential net gains as eye-watering.

She told conference: “We have clearly demonstrated that diversity is good for the economy, good for business, good for communities and, most importantly, good for all of us.”

Presenting the business case for diversity and inclusion, Sandy Begbie, Chief People Officer at Standard Life, said companies that had a diverse workforce at management and board level performed better in finance and business; were more innovative; had better cash flow per employee; were more likely to capture a new market; and were more likely to report an increase in market share.

Our key sponsors said:

Graeme Brewster, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, City of Glasgow College said: “As a key supporter of this year’s conference, it was inspiring to see the range of important work being delivered to encourage a diverse workforce and to share our own expertise in the promotion of diversity and equality in the tertiary sector.”

Katy Wedderburn, Employment Head, MacRoberts said: “We were delighted to support the Diversity Conference for Scotland.  The day’s agenda saw a variety of speakers all highlighting successes and challenges on Diversity and Inclusion to the delegates.”

Steve Dunlop, CEO of Scottish Canals, said:  “As a public body committed to ensuring the nation’s canals are there for everyone in Scotland to enjoy, we recognise the value that diversity of thought at levels of an organisation brings. This year’s event explored the business benefits of being genuinely inclusive which are clear for all to see. I look forward to seeing the conference develop in the years to come.”

Sarah McNulty, Human Resources Operations Director at ScottishPower said: “ScottishPower were delighted to be part of the Diversity Conference for Scotland.  Today has been a great opportunity to learn from other organisations and individuals about their own experiences of overcoming challenges to create an inclusive environment in the workplace”.

SDS Head of National Training Programme Development, Karen Murray said: “The conference demonstrated how committed organisations, companies, workplaces and individuals are to improving equality and diversity.

“It’s encouraging to see so much good practice and so many positive examples of employers embedding diversity in their workforce across Scotland.

“Equality and diversity is a huge priority for SDS and we are proud to be part of the first ever Diversity Conference in Scotland.”

 Lynne Connolly, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion said: ‘Standard Life were delighted to support the Diversity Conference for Scotland. After a day of sharing experiences on Diversity and Inclusion, it was hard not to leave feeling really motivated to continue to progress this important agenda across Scotland’.

Wheatley Group’s Partnership Manager Lorraine McLaren said: “The Diversity Conference was a great opportunity to hear from an excellent line-up of speakers about how we can create more diverse and inclusive workplaces, and the benefits this can bring. We were delighted to be part of it.”

Ed Cochrane, Managing Consultant & Head of YSC Scotland: “YSC were proud to support the Diversity Conference for Scotland. The agenda was rich, extremely interesting and relevant and covered a broad spectrum of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives happening across Scotland.”

 Audrey Ross, Sales & Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey West Scotland said: “We aim to be an inclusive company which values people as individuals and creates a workforce that reflects the diversity of the local communities where we build new homes, and we’re really delighted to have been involved in the first year of The Herald Diversity Conference.

“Our involvement in the conference recognises the importance that we’ve placed on embracing diversity and inclusion within our business and the opportunity it creates for the wider housebuilding industry.

Kathryn O’Shea, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Royal Mail said:“It was a pleasure to be part of such a fantastic event. The wide variety of speakers all sharing their ideas, insights and unique challenges in diversity and inclusion was a great learning opportunity for all”.

 Jill Miller, Director of Cultural Services at Glasgow Life, said: “We were delighted to support Scotland’s first national diversity conference. It was clear to see from the many organisations and businesses who attended that there is a strong commitment to diversity and equality in workplaces and communities not just in Glasgow, but across the country and the variety of motivational speakers ensured the day’s agenda was both lively and informative. Diversity is a crucial component of driving business performance and delivering economic growth and that really came across in the discussions.”