Just Audit invests in inclusion and diversity
Research shows that when organisations are diverse, they achieve better results, they are better at problem-solving and generate greater innovation. What’s more, decision-making at the top of an organisation is stronger when employees with accountability have different backgrounds, experiences, characteristics. [ICAEW]
This month, Karen Lewchenko, part of the Just Audit team, attended an ICAEW inclusion workshop in London.
The day was designed to raise awareness of the importance of diversity at work and how we all have a role to play in creating and embracing diverse workplaces.
Karen describes her day:
"The workshop was very insightful and showed us, as a group, how unconsciously biased we can be. This is a fairly new phrase that means we can sometimes have a personal bias towards people based on age, culture, accent - all sorts of things in fact, without actually knowing we do.
In one particular exercise, we were all given a card and told to form groups in silence. Naturally we all looked at our own card then looked at the cards held by others around us to work out what groups we were meant to form. I had a blue square but others around me had yellow cards… however, I noticed a guy in the far corner holding up a blue square so I gravitated towards him. Most groups did the same thing. One lady didn’t fit in (she had a unique card) so stood on her own. She felt OK about that when questioned by the facilitator. I think the facilitator wanted her to say she felt left out.
It was very interesting to hear about other people’s stories having experienced similar situations in real life situations. It was noteworthy that many of them actually felt happy to join other groups even when they weren’t such a match on the surface. I think this means that we should encourage people to come together in different circumstances at work, even if we're not sure they'll integrate - people can surprise us!
For diverse organisations to thrive, they must also develop an inclusive culture where everyone feels like they are welcome, included and belong. Inclusive organisations have happier and more engaged employees, they have bigger talent pools to recruit from and are more productive. [ICAEW]
During the day we watched a drama group who performed role play to show how we can be discriminatory in the office (often without realising it) due to beliefs and behaviours instilled in us through our own experiences in life. The purpose of this was to remind us to question or challenge similar situations if we ever witness this behaviour.
The workshop was eye opening and it was lovely to speak to many different accountants, all from different cultures and backgrounds with their own personal stories.
Antonia Sudkaemper from the ICAEW was especially interested in how Just Audit was an inclusive business for such a relatively small firm. I talked to her about how we employ people from different backgrounds which can often help us see things from different perspectives. We're not institutionalised for several reasons but mainly because we all have worked from our own home offices for many years.
Just Audit is a committed and caring employer, putting wellness, mental health and inclusion at the top of its team priorities. Karen is also the company's mental health first aider.