Fostering inclusive workplaces | Talking HR Equality, Diversity, Inclusion

Posted in Employers, Our News

Posted by Joanne Caine
Published on 29 May, 2024

On Wednesday 15th May, we gathered HR and internal recruitment professionals from across the region for our very first Talking HR event at the beautiful Froginwell Vineyard.

We wanted to create a place where likeminded people can come together to address key concerns, navigate challenges and help businesses grow. For the our event, we welcomed guest speakers and professionals from around the region to discuss overcoming Equality, Diversity and Inclusion challenges.

Guest speakers included Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the Recruitment Employment Confederation, Shades Chaudhary, Assistant Director of Culture at the University of Exeter and James Baker, Partner and Employment Law Specialist at Michelmores LLP.


What echoed through all of our speakers is the need to commit to your EDI practices and make small changes to your process so you can iterate and measure success.

Shades remarked “Ultimately there is a choice between EDI and the bottom line, but it’s down to how you want to commit to your future as a business in the market. Lots of younger people coming through the work pipeline talk of putting your money where your mouth is, so make sure what you say aligns with what you do.”

Young people were also a focus of the discussion, with Kate remarking “young people are more likely to have a ‘side hustle’ to their main job and often come with an entrepreneurial mindset. Outside of their job, they are working on something they are passionate about pursuing, but can’t afford to commit to full time until its off the ground so they are more likely to take temporary or contract work.”

A businesses approach to EDI was also stated as one of the key concerns for the younger generation, who are increasingly looking to work with businesses who align with their own values, as opposed to previous generations who would broadly speaking look at salary as a key factor in their decision.


So what can you do to foster an inclusive workplace?

According to Shades, the first thing you can look at is your recruitment pipeline. What gaps do you have? Where are the pitfalls? Do you have a problem with shortlisting? The application process? Hiring diverse means breaking down barriers to entry, which in turn opens up a more diverse talent pool.

Kate also spoke on breaking down barriers of entry for candidates. Women are more likely to apply for roles if they meet 90% of the criteria, for men this is much lower. For the older generation, tech can be a concern, which is advancing so quickly that older generations can struggle to keep up with the latest innovations. Look at your application process to see how you can break down these entry points, which in turn will lead to more diverse hiring at the first stage.


What is there to consider with EDI practices in business?

With over 20 years experience working as an Employment Law Specialist, James provided unique insight into where EDI practices can go wrong. He spoke on how “there is a chance that by saying you ‘do’ EDI, it becomes too much of a tick box exercise, which isn’t helpful for anyone. There is in fact no ‘it’. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are three separate things, and by doing one, it doesn’t automatically mean you are doing the other.

One thing to consider is that you need an annual training programme for your team that specifically addresses diversity challenges you face in your business, and this needs to evolve each year. Having a diversity champion, tick box slides, isn’t enough. You need effective training that improves over time.”


Where can I get more information?

Here are a few useful resources that could help your EDI practices.


Due to the success of the event and further interest, we will be hosting a second event in the latter half of the year where we will discuss another key topic facing HR professionals in the workplace. 

Managing Director

Jo joined Cathedral Appointments over 25 years ago and now leads the business alongside Clodagh, who joined the company in 2021. Jo is a local employment expert and a former board member of Exeter’s leading business membership organisation, Exeter Chamber. She is also a Fellow of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and has an Associated CIPD membership.

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Fostering inclusive workplaces | Talking HR Equality, Diversity, Inclusion

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