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R100 BLOG: WORKPLACE DIVERSITY, PART 2 – What are the barriers organisations face when working toward EXCELLENT implementation?

R100's 2017 roundtable on Workplace Diversity brought together leading experts including HR directors, academics and recruitment professionals. We discussed the importance and benefits of promoting diversity and the barriers commonly faced to achieving effective implementation.

Collecting high-quality data that sheds light on the experience of people from underrepresented backgrounds in their day-to-day working life is essential. Without information on existing levels of diversity within an organisation, tracking the success of different interventions is unfeasible. Speaking to staff directly, building trust, and openness about what data is used for can help in this, as the people most affected can give honest feedback, and are more likely to disclose if they know what the information will be used for.

The roundtable found that the success of diversity and inclusion policies was primarily dependent on the actions of line managers. For busy line managers, including diversity and inclusion measures in KPIs and deliverables can encourage buy-in and make promoting diversity a key aspect of their role. Providing training, support and resources that can be used as and when needed was also identified as crucial. One example mentioned was a ‘best practice portal’ where information could be accessed as and when it was needed, rather than simply having a one-off training session.

Working to integrate diversity and inclusion into the culture of an organisation, or making supporting diversity ‘the way we do things ’round here’, was cited as key. When diversity and inclusion is seen as a top-down exercise or an imposition from HR, it is difficult to get buy-in. Integrating it into company culture can contribute to minimising the taboo nature of this topic, enabling people to have open conversations about potentially sensitive issues, both with different levels of management and with each other. This can help overcome a number of barriers to full equality within the workplace.

Different organisations need different approaches and policies depending on the issues they face, and how long they’ve been actively working to support diversity and inclusion. What works for a business that has been working on the issue for years will not be effective for another just getting to grips with it. The business case for increasing diversity and inclusion is strong, but will only get a company so far. Starting small and focused was also seen as acceptable, as it allowed organisations to get the ball rolling and facilitate learning before tackling the whole range of issues, as long as the basics were covered.

Some aspects of diversity were identified as being frequently overlooked. Despite protections having come in after the First World War, the importance of the representation and inclusion of disabled people was singled out as often forgotten. Further, it’s important for organisations to recognise that characteristics are not mutually exclusive. Identities are intersectional, and taking note of this can have a significant impact on policies and practices, and on the experiences of those they affect.

Register your interest for the next roundtable on Workplace Diversity.

R100 BLOG: REDUCING SOCIAL EXCLUSION – How should responsible businesses begin to understand how they are affected, and how to respond?

R100's 2017 roundtable on Reducing Social Exclusion brought together a range of organisations and individuals that work on different elements of this huge and complex issue.

The discussion was both explorative and constructive. Contributors ranged from large multinationals grappling with how social exclusion affects them, and what to do about. We were also joined by campaigners and small charities working on specific aspects of social exclusion.

What was immediately apparent to us all at the outset was that social exclusion is broad in its causes, impacts and solutions. Whether working with refugees, underserved youth, pensioners or social housing tenants, organisations face varied challenges based on their industry and community, which in turn affect their impact.

As such, it is important for them to consider:

  • What aspects of social exclusion are material to their business?
  • How will they address these aspects?
  • Who will they work with, and how?
  • How will they balance those goals while still delivering excellent products and services?
  • How can they affect change, within their own organisation and outside it?

This issue is relevant to all organisations from the perspective of their products and services, and how they run their organisations internally. Meeting attendees acknowledged that large businesses are able to effect large impacts through the delivery of their products and services, or leverage of their balance sheet, and not only through their employment practices or charitable giving. Similarly, social organisations or charities saw the value of examining their own management policies and practices, and not just focus on the services they deliver.

Additionally, the roundtable found that how businesses operate, at all levels, has a huge impact on society and the economy. Influencing operations is key to unlocking business’ potential to improve social inclusion, both in the UK and abroad. Suggestions as to how to influence decisions were put forward, including focusing on reputation and the management of risk.

Bringing together social enterprises and large businesses naturally led to discussion on how best the two can work together, maximising the expertise and experience of organisations working on the frontlines of social exclusion, and the resources and influence of business. It's not just about donations and charity, rather relationships that are beneficial to all parties.

Click here for full definitions of social exclusion, and inclusion, against many other related technical terms.

Click here for the R100 rationale for exploring social exclusion as a responsibility issue.

Click here to view the policy and practice details businesses are expected to disclose on in the process of assessing their performance.

Click here to discover how POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT standards of policy and practice on reducing social exclusion are currently defined and described.

R100 BLOG: CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS & REDRESS – What is EXCELLENT practice when it comes to looking out for your customers?

Joined by businesses, consumer rights organisations and even a professional complainer, Responsible 100 held a roundtable on 15 November 2017 in an attempt to get to grips with what makes for POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT practice on handling complaints.

Some key ideas emerged on what really makes a business EXCELLENT when things go wrong…

An EXCELLENT business empowers the staff who first hear the complaint to offer some sort of redress straight away. It has empathetic, supportive staff who can recognise that the business hasn’t performed at its best. With that simple initial response, straight away the business makes a significant step towards remedying the issue. When frontline staff don’t have to go off and check with their manager, customers receive smoother service.

An EXCELLENT business supports vulnerable customers, including those who are not aware of their vulnerability. For instance, a leading financial services company anticipate that their customers may have undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. Staff receive training on how to support such customers.

An EXCELLENT business can seamlessly put a vulnerable customer into a different complaints track, and support them so they get the most out of the process. Receiving a poorly constructed letter from a customer might lead an EXCELLENT company to recognise that it may be best to establish communication with this customer over the phone. Organisations need a holistic understanding of vulnerability - recognising that even the most resilient customer may be vulnerable in specific circumstances.

An EXCELLENT business makes it easy to complain - they put complaints templates on their website, they tell customers exactly what information is needed to complain and they contact the customers who don’t yet know they’ve been treated unfairly or received substandard service. Some businesses use behavioural economics approaches to work out how to effectively get in touch with customers. Sending just one letter may not be enough - a business should work towards alerting the customer in the most effective way.

In some cases, an EXCELLENT business may be able to auto-compensate customers without the customer needing to act. A business’s ability to do this depends on their product, and on the details they hold. For example, banks are frequently able to identify their own errors and could put money back into a customer’s account if it was taken in error. It was argued that, similarly, airlines could and should provide automatic redress without customers needing to contact them first.

It’s not good enough for companies to claim they are obliged to follow bureaucratic, procedural norms and make customers jump through hoops in order to be compensated. Instead the best companies are proactive and attentive to each customer’s individual needs.

Employee Engagement Newsletter

Our examination of workplace issues continues in November with the Employee Engagement roundtable. We will be discussing the ways businesses can get this right, for both themselves and their staff, and what EXCELLENT, GOOD, OKAY and POOR practice looks like. See the full newsletter here.

L&G Thought Leadership Guest Blog: Why all responsible businesses need "critical friends"

Every month for the past 3 years, the Responsible 100 network has quietly but effectively brought together micro businesses, SMEs and some of the world’s largest corporations with leading campaign groups, NGOs, trade bodies, government and regulators. These “critical friend” sessions are really changing the way that business operates one meeting at a time. Read the full blog here.

Blog for The Crowd: Are we entering the responsible tax era?

Responsible 100's shortest question is this: Is your business transparent on tax? As we explain in our guest blog, any business can answer this question. Any business can benchmark their performance as POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT in so doing. Any business can publish its answer and R100 score for anyone to view, scrutinise and comment on via this website. Read more about our methodology and the reasons for being open and honest on tax on The Crowd website.

Email Newsletter

Looking forward to an exciting year ahead. Looking back on some highlights from 2014. Read the full email newsletter here. And watch the video clip of highlights from our Good Deals debate: