“When we talk about diversity in the workplace, we often assume that this is limited to issues such as gender, race or disability – but issues of diversity and inclusion in the workplace are wider and include social mobility.”
The Association for Business Psychology
What is social mobility?
Social mobility provides the opportunity for everyone to advance within a society. It levels the playing field and enables people to reach their true potential in employment, income, education, and perceived social status.
Why is it important?
By not engaging with and encouraging diversity and social mobility in our businesses we are missing out on a resource of talented and innovative individuals. Not only do the people being discounted miss out, but we lose the opportunity to benefit from the skills and talents they can bring into our businesses.
One of the most gratifying things about being appointed MBE was that it is for business and social mobility. I have long been an advocate of levelling the playing field. Where did most people in our government come from? Where do most of the people at the top of businesses come from? The answer is private schools and privileged backgrounds.
Why is that?
I believe it’s down to one word – confidence. When people perceive that you are confident, they are much more likely to give you a job whether it be in government or in business.
Did you know that the mind can’t tell the difference between what is vividly imagined and what is real? Have you ever imagined things in your life going wrong? Well, guess what? You can equally imagine a good outcome, one that makes you feel great. It is just about practice.
Imagine stepping into the future and notice that the thing you used to worry about had a fantastic outcome.
See, hear, and feel exactly what you would as if the moment is right now – looking through your own eyes. It really is that easy to switch emotional states.
Businesses are constantly saying they are actively seeking a more diverse workforce, but very few of them have truly successful programs in place to hire and support individuals from every background. This is a result of a failure of culture and training.
It is all very well to say we want to reach out to people from diverse backgrounds. However, unless you put the training in place to give the people from diverse backgrounds the confidence and ability to feel comfortable in your business environment, the initiative very seldom succeeds. The training also must work at the other end so that the people who are already in the business are trained to be understanding, welcoming, and inclusive to new people from different backgrounds.
From a psychological perspective, we tend to go for what we like and understand – people like people like us. People tend to hire in their own image. However, we know that diversity and inclusion as laid out in this Forbes Article, are vital to a successful business model. Success is inherent in finding the right path that works for your business and as all businesses are as unique as individuals care and time needs to be taken in developing a program that works best for you.
Learning Through Listening
International cricketer and media commentator Ebony Rainford-Brent appeared on the Humourology Podcast and explained to us how she has faced her fair share of cultural challenges as the first black woman to play for the England cricket team
“I’ve been in environments where it’s not okay to be yourself and you have to fit the image of what the leader, the coach or the captain says. When you have a good leader, they let people be free to be themselves and that allows them to flow more and have an environment which supports difference and diversity. To get to that flow state, to get to those performance states, you need to be being as close to yourself as possible. You need to be as relaxed as possible. It’s about the leader creating a good environment.”
Making a difference
Before I had the privilege to interview successful guests from business, sport, politics, and entertainment like Ebony on the Humourology podcast, I served for many years as the team psychologist on SkyTV Series School of Hard Knocks.
What happens if you find yourself in a position to both create confidence AND develop diversity? Extraordinary, wonderful things happen and I was fortunate enough to be in that position.
During my time working with the young men on the rugby pitch I learned just how important it is to empower young people with confidence and give them the proper support.
The work I was able to do during the show, helping disadvantaged young men find themselves through sport helped inspire the SOHK charity of which I feel privileged to still serve as a business advisor.
SOHK Charity uses sport to tackle the issues surrounding unemployment, crime, and health. It works with individuals to help them take responsibility and make positive steps forward in their lives. The SOHK charity utilises social mobility programmes to provide better lives for those who may not come from such advantageous backgrounds. Through the vehicle of sport, people in need are receiving the support they need to better their lives and secure a more successful future for themselves. Please consider supporting them in any way you can now.
Implementing true social mobility programmes are the key to a truly diversified and successful workplace. If you want your business to have a winning culture that values everyone and consistently finds success, you must do the work to support the social mobility of future employees.
I’m ridiculously excited about the new guests coming up soon on the Humourology Podcast and I can’t wait to share their insights with you all.
Keep watching this space.
See you next Tuesday.