There is increasing belief that businesses and organisations which are diverse in their makeup are likely to be successful.
A report by consultancy firm McKinsey & Company indicated that diverse companies are 15 per cent likely to outperform competitors, which could add £150bn to the UK economy on an annual basis.
Businesses that actively recruit, promote and encourage diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, age and skills at all levels in their organisation are more likely to generate a more cohesive, attractive, balanced and dynamic business to work in.
Certain sectors in the past have had a stereotypical image of the type of people most likely to be engaged, but this is fast changing.
Construction and the nuclear energy sectors have been very proactive in promoting and encouraging diversity.
One strategic initiative is focusing on attracting women into the nuclear sector, through Women in Nuclear (WiN) established in 2014, which is part of a global network.
WiN key objectives are to increase the skills base and achieving a gender balance through attraction, retention and dialogue is certainly paying dividends.
In the government’s nuclear sector deal there is a target of 40 per cent women to be employed in the nuclear industry by 2030, but I know WiN are pushing for complete equilibrium.
Since its launch in 2014, the percentage of women employed in nuclear has risen from 17 per cent to 22 per cent, demonstrating that progress is being made.
I have been in the construction and nuclear sector for over 17 years and it is great to see that more women are entering the sector in many different job roles and careers.
Recently, I attended the WiN Annual Conference in London and was delighted to see the obvious enthusiasm and professionalism of the delegates who are actively involved in the nuclear sector, which bodes well for the future.
I am a keen advocate for diversity and growing skills and that’s why I and Clarke Willmott support initiatives such as WiN but need to ensure businesses employ the best person for the role in terms of business cultural fit and skills.
It is vital for the long-term success of business, communities and the UK economy that diversity and enhancing the skill base is seen as a priority.
Whilst it is great that the UK unemployment levels are at an exceptionally low level, with an ageing population and the challenges of retaining our valued migrant workforce we need to look at all avenues to mitigate these issues to help grow our business community.
Just recently a survey of business owners showed that 75 per cent of respondents needed more staff to help them grow, thus affecting their potential long-term success.
This is a great opportunity to create dynamic businesses for the future.
Zoe Stollard is a Partner at UK law firm Clarke Willmott and specializes in construction and nuclear energy.