Workingmums.co.uk talks to Patrick Voss at Radius Business about diversity issues.
When Radius Business was set up three years ago, there was lots of activity happening around diversity based around the characteristics protected in the Equalities Act.
However, Patrick Voss and Matt Parsons spotted a gap in the market for an organisation which could connect all those diverse groups and make the broader business case for diversity.
Patrick says: “We felt that while it was important to recognise those different characteristics, be they LGBT, ethnic minorities or women, there was a broader argument to make about inclusivity and engagement not just being a social or community good.”
He added: “There are a lot of organisations like the 30 Percent Club and Stonewall doing great work, but not many organisations are taking an umbrella view and tying it back into the issue of talent management.”
Radius Business – which has a small staff who work remotely – works with a range of organisations, including large public sector bodies, and has two strands to its work. One involves networking and connectivity. Patrick, who has a marketing background, says a lot of existing networking events involve people who share the same views talking to each other. “They don’t have the influence they might,” he says.
Radius Business runs a business network and invites people from different backgrounds to events about business-related topics like transport infrastructure or the future of energy in the UK. “A whole range of people come because they are interested in the business topic and from there they can get into talks about the value of engagement and diversity,” says Patrick.
Twice a year Radius Business gets different staff networks together, whether parenting, women’s, LBGT or ethnic minorities, and runs workshops to help them be more impactful. It also runs a diversity and inclusion leaders group which may or may not be about a diversity-related topic. “We want to harness the talent they have on focused subjects like succession planning in talent management,” says Patrick. One group, for instance, uses the leaders group as a business development network.
Radius Business, whose advisory board includes people like Tanni Grey-Thompson and former Labour Secretary of State Chris Smith, also has a consultancy strand. Some of the programmes are delivered by Radius Business and others with partners. They also run an Inclusion Pledge Programme which pairs up senior business leaders with people from different perspectives within their organisation as a way of driving cultural change.
Patrick says one of the big issues for organisations is measuring the impact of their diversity and inclusion practices and he says it is important not to create unrealistic expectations. Traditionally most success measures involve sales and revenues, but diversity is more about talent management and retention and valuing all your staff.
He thinks there is a growing movement towards employee engagement as a central business strategy and that inclusion strategies are part of that. He agrees that women have had a high profile in the media, but says this has helped raise the profile of other marginalised groups.