Developing a new business case for diversity and inclusion
Mears Group is a highly successful, values-driven company in the housing and social care sector. The Mears vision is to ‘make a positive difference to the communities we serve’.
Mears came to EW Group in 2016 with a real understanding that they needed to ensure all their stakeholders recognised the social and business benefits of diversity and inclusion. Specifically, this would empower Mears as a company to:
- Deliver the best services and care to their customers
- Build great partnerships
- Recruit and retain more diverse staff, including more women at senior levels and more Black, Asian and minority ethnic people at all levels.
The Mears team wanted us to review the company’s policies, practices and workplace behaviours around diversity to ensure compliance with the Equality Act, and to benchmark their performance against industry best practice. This would include a diversity training programme, focusing on managers for the first year, before rolling out training sessions to all Mears staff.
Embracing and embedding diversity – One Mears, Many Talents
Our first project was to collaborate with the Mears senior team to formulate a new business case for diversity and inclusion, and to provide recommendations on how to embed diversity and inclusion as a strategic priority. EW Group Co-Founder, Jane Farrell, worked with a high-level Diversity Steering Group at Mears to ensure the new approach was both strategic and operational. The design phase also included conversations with Mears managers in London and Brighton.
Jane Farrell launched the new business case for diversity and inclusion at the ‘One Mears, Many Talents’ conference for the top 300 Mears Group managers in March 2017. Our work was given a senior-level stamp of approval at the conference by Mears CEO David Miles. Speaking about the company’s continuing focus on social value, David made it clear how he wants diversity and inclusion to be approached with the same commitment as health and safety.
As part of the conference, a team of EW Group role-playing actors took to the stage: acting out a series of short workplace scenarios where the managers needed to make difficult decisions. What would they say when they overheard this inappropriate comment? What would they do when unconscious bias was rearing its head in a panel tasked with making a key business decision?
“Having EW Group as a trusted friend has really enabled us to make good progress with embedding diversity and inclusion across the Group. Their passionate and professional approach is refreshing, and their knowledge and expertise around training, strategy, current best practice and thinking has proved invaluable – we are now confidently able to deliver solutions that provide the best possible outcomes.”
Gary Jackson, Group Director of Communications & Customer Success at Mears Group
Diversity training, consultancy support and the Inclusive Culture Pledge
Since the launch of the new business case, Jane has designed and delivered a series of bespoke pilot diversity and inclusion programmes for managers. One of these sessions was incorporated into the Mears in-house leadership programme. Jane’s fellow consultant Teresa Norman has also provided consultancy support around gaining industry-wide accreditation.
The evaluation statistics from our pilot groups clearly demonstrate the value of the training that EW Group has delivered:
- The percentage of delegates who described themselves as very aware of what unconscious bias is increased from 0% pre-course to 100% post-course.
- The percentage of delegates who had a clear idea of the ways that they can behave inclusively in a team increased from 60% pre-course to 100% post-course.
- 100% of the attendees were satisfied with the content and style of the training.
In November 2017, Mears Group signed our Inclusive Culture Pledge at our 25th anniversary event at London’s City Hall. We were joined on the night by Jo Fry, Group HR Director, and Gary Jackson, Group Director of Customer and Community Success.
“It’s great working with Mears because of the level of passion and commitment that their people bring to the diversity and inclusion agenda. It fits in completely with their determination to do the right thing.”
Jane Farrell, Founder EW Group