A call for evidence has been launched by the British Chambers of Commerce Workplace Equity Commission, urging businesses, stakeholders and interested parties to contribute towards making change happen.
The commission includes representatives from the UK and international chamber networks, business leaders and experts from across civic society. Meeting regularly over the next 12 months, the group will produce practical recommendations to help SMEs create more fair and equitable workplaces.
The Commission defines workplace equity as creating a level playing field for individuals, recognising that we do not all start from the same place and that adjustments may be required to provide fair access to opportunity.
The inquiry considers workplace equity from the perspective of SMEs across all sectors and geographies in the United Kingdom.
The focus is on workplace equity for everyone in work, and those wishing to access work.
Businesses, individuals and organisations with views and experience are being encouraged to contribute to the research.
The Commission is part of the BCC’s three-year workplace equity campaign, the inspiration for which came from the findings of the BCC International Women’s Day research, published last March, that surveyed 4,000 people. The research found that many people are facing barriers to career progression and feel they are missing out on opportunities.
The commission is inviting submissions addressing any of the following questions:
- How do we create a culture where leaders ensure workplace equity is at the heart of business and where they commit to the cultural change required?
- What challenges do SMEs face in creating equitable workplaces and how can they be supported to overcome them? What are the critical factors that would help employers?
- What positive actions are businesses taking to develop equitable workplaces? Please tell us about any specific initiatives or cultural change programmes that have worked well.
- What was the catalyst that led to the desire to change?
- What are the factors that made the initiative successful?
- What has been the impact of this investment?
- How can we support employers to accommodate the diverse and often complex needs of individuals that may limit opportunity?’
- What funding and/or support can businesses access to support their efforts to create more equitable workplaces?
- How can local government, Chambers of Commerce and other partners at a local level work together to support SMEs? Where are the examples of best practice in collaborative working?
- What change in government policy (UK and/or devolved) could make the biggest difference in helping SMEs to create equitable workplaces?
- What lessons can we learn from other countries?
Gill Hunter, Managing Partner of Square One Law and co-chair of the commission, said: “We are delighted to launch our inquiry into workplace equity. The commissioners all bring unique insight from their different personal and professional backgrounds.
“We want to hear from anyone who has experience or views on how SMEs can create workplaces that truly create a level playing field for everyone. Personal testimony will help us fully understand how diverse workforces can be recruited and retained.”
Paul Butterworth, CEO of Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid and member of the commission (pictured above) said: “Together we can create level playing fields for employees in SME workplaces across Wales and the UK. This inquiry is incredibly important, and we encourage businesses and organisations to contribute to it to help us shape a fairer future.”
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said: “To grow our economy, we need to nurture and support the ambition, skills and potential of people in every part of our community.
“Everyone’s ideas, skills and experience are important to business and the economy and must not be wasted. We want to help businesses ensure a level playing field in our workplaces where everyone can achieve their potential.
“We know companies are facing real economic challenges – but embedding equity into workplaces is good for business and the workforce and can improve productivity and growth.
“We’re excited to be opening up the debate to anyone with a story to tell on this important issue. Sharing best practice will be particularly important. By listening and learning over the coming months, our commissioners plan to come up with practical recommendations for SMEs that can make a lasting difference.”