North East England Chamber of Commerce has concluded the results of the survey into business attitudes within the region towards diversity, inclusion, and discrimination.
The information gathered has been encouraging, and although there appears to be uncertainty around what discrimination looks and feels like, within the changing landscape of the region business community, the survey also revealed a great appetite to learn ways in which businesses can promote diversity and learn from best practices.
The survey asked how business owners felt they encouraged an inclusive culture within their workplace and many of the respondents replied they would benefit from race equality training and practical ways of promoting positive action.
Nagma Ebanks-Beni MBE (Prima Cheese), Chair, Chamber Racial, Ethnicity and Discrimination (RED) Commission said: “We were really pleased that our main findings within this survey showed a great enthusiasm to be inclusive within our region. People reported they were keen to offer opportunities and to successfully recruit a more diverse workforce but were unclear about how to go about it and apply the right focus to successfully utilise, grow, and retain people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.
“Our job in the Chamber RED commission now is to help ensure people get the resources they need to recruit, develop and encourage all their employees, promote racial equality and build a fairer environment for everyone, no matter their heritage. We need businesses to grow their knowledge about race, racism, discrimination, and inclusivity so they don’t do something as a one off and think the job is done. Being truly inclusive is an on-going approach by addressing attitudes and behaviour that are barriers to achieving a genuine solution for combined success.”
Survey respondents identified one of the main challenges is not knowing the appropriate terminology to use for people from ethnic minorities, especially in relation to diversity and discrimination which has resulted in an ambition to have the right resources and training in terms of HR and legal knowledge to tackle racism and discrimination. There was also the suggestion that the region needed a forum for people of different ethnicities to engage in candid discussion on what could be done and to help promote positive examples of business success for the people that live, work, and contribute to our region.
Aneela Ali, regional commercial strategy manager for LNER in the North East, is also a member of the Chamber’s RED Commission. She said: “There is a lot of work to be done in our region to become truly inclusive and support everyone’s career development, no matter what ethnic background they have. However, the findings from the Chamber research on the appetite of businesspeople to improve diversity is really heartening. We need to have everyone reaching their potential if we are going to truly level up the North East with the rest of the country.”
Companies who responded to the survey also had suggested they would welcome a database of potential employees from diverse backgrounds, advice on overcoming unconscious bias and information on different cultures and religions.
The Chamber RED commission is using the information to provide a toolkit for businesses on everything from how to become more diverse and inclusive as well as setting out the proven benefits to the bottom line of a business which employs people from a range of ethnic backgrounds.