Are you appealing in the way you think you are?

One of the biggest shifts that the pandemic has brought about is greater empathy.

Empathy (n). The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

We are all more aware of the impact of our words and actions on others, and are choosing more carefully how to wield our power.

Our behaviour, culture, ethics are all in the spotlight. What we do matters just as much as what we say. And there’s nowhere left to hide for the company that hasn’t caught up yet.

Yes, this is a piece about diversity and inclusion. But don’t stop reading. This piece is not for the women, the BAME community, the LGBTQ+ activists, the people living with disabilities or mental health challenges. This is a piece for everyone else.

The diversity conversation went quiet when lockdown began (let’s blame it on those caring responsibilities). A conversation that has returned with a bang following the Black Lives Matter protests and as the impact of the pandemic on women, minorities and the vulnerable became clear. It’s time to bring the conversation back to life.

The Covid-19 pandemic turned the spotlight on the inequalities of our society. Whilst men – particularly BAME – have been more vulnerable to the virus itself, women have suffered brutally from the effects of the lockdown.

As we move towards a different way of life, post-Covid, we do so with an exhausted, disheartened, damaged population. Most are seeking a different way to life and work. No-one wants to return to the way things were. All are more aware of the need for greater equality and empathy.

All this in the context of an economy that needs rebuilding. A rebuild that looks to be led by property and construction. Great news for us!

But how are we going to build, build, build? Our industry has a severe skills shortage. Brexit, the pandemic and an ageing workforce are all contributory factors.

Kath Moore MBE, Chief Executive of Women Into Construction, puts it perfectly.

“Brexit and Covid-19 have had, and will have, significant impacts upon the industry. But we must take full advantage of this opportunity for radical change to ensure that the UK can build its way to a more equal, prosperous future.”

Our industry remains predominantly male and white, although more diverse than a decade ago. And there’s nothing wrong with that, unless we believe that a broader range of input leads to better solutions (for the record, we do).

For savvy businesses, diversity is where it’s at: bigger bucks, better reputation, more creative solutions and a more agile workforce. We know this pays off, so why do we still have so far to go?

“Everyone has a complex internal life and someone or something to care for, whether that’s children, parents, a pet, a community group or a rugby team. And if they don’t, you don’t want that person in your business. Complexity is good, it’s what makes us human, and we must make room for the personal in our professional lives.”

Never mind the power of a more diverse workforce for enhancing your culture and profitability… it’s also a deciding factor in whether or not you qualify for publicly funded work, and will influence whether a potential employee joins you or your competitor.

Your values, behaviours, visuals, client interactions and the people in your boardroom are all in the public eye. And because the spotlight on diversity (and the discussion around it) isn’t going anywhere fast, you need to evidence diversity in everything you do.

The Place team has put together a handy toolkit to help you do things differently today.

Diverse teams help us to remain innovative and encourage us to break away from collective ‘groupthink’ – anathema to the forward-thinking construction firm. An inclusive workplace will also create more effective marketing activity that better reflects the communities and people you serve.

Know your audience. Are really they just like you?

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