The Evolve Programme.
Helping women directly was a key part of the project however Agile Nation went much further by ensuring there was also a focus on providing workplaces with a programme of support. This gave businesses the opportunity to develop their understanding of the importance of Equality and Diversity at work.
It offered small and medium sized business the opportunity to develop and implement best practice diversity strategies in a way that could improve the success of the business for little or no financial outlay, and to implement remote working solutions.
The supported businesses would be best placed to ensure their workplaces were aligned with legislation and also best placed to deliver efficient working environments for their staff. This would offer benefits for the business itself and to all employees irrespective of gender, and was delivered through the Evolve programme.
Diversity is good for business!
At its core Evolve was committed to showing how diversity is good for business and the programme highlighted the following benefits.
Increased productivity through:
Improved staff motivation.
Greater staff loyalty.
Enhanced business reputation by:
Having a best practice diversity strategy.
Promoting best practice.
Becoming an employer of choice.
Effectively engaging with staff, customers and suppliers.
Implementing remote working.
Adopting worklife balance practices.
The benefits of adopting a diversity strategy.
Taking part in the Evolve programme started by attending a one day workshop where the benefits of adopting a diversity strategy were explored.
This gave the businesses a clear understanding of the importance of the Equality Act whilst at the same time showing how more effective working practices could be developed, in particular by looking at flexible and remote working.
Dave Beese from Pontypridd based DecTek.
Of the 456 businesses that attended the workshop, 74% came from the private sector including Dave Beese from Pontypridd Based DecTek, who said:
Attending the workshop showed me that diversity is much more than just a policy, and now I’m pleased the Agile Nation team are helping me develop an effective diversity strategy for DecTek. I’m convinced this is a good thing to do for my staff and my business.
Joy Kent – Chwarae Teg CEO, and Dave Beese from Pontypridd based DecTek.
After attending the workshop employers then had access to a dedicated project officer who discussed the further support the project could offer; including:
Expert impartial advice on managing a diverse workforce.
Access to an ICT Project Manager to help identify technology requirements for the adoption of remote working.
Policy and process assistance in the development of remote working policies.
Financial support for the implementation of remote working.
Evolve offered small and medium sized businesses the opportunity to gain fully funded support to access the levels of expert knowledge normally associated with far larger organisations.
This has helped them to adopt the appropriate best practice equality and diversity polices and working practices. Employers were able to raise awareness of equality and diversity within their workforce, through training provided by their project officers.
My Agile Nation.
Working extensively on the Evolve programme, Agile Nation Senior Project Officer Caroline Mathias has engaged with businesses across South West Wales.
Working on the Evolve programme I’ve gained so much admiration for our business community. We launched in the middle of the recession and even though this was the most challenging of environments I’d consistently receive a positive response when I approached a business to offer support through the programme.
Of course these tough trading conditions were an added challenge for lots of employers, and I always felt for those businesses that wanted to take part but simply didn’t have the time as they really were fighting for their next order.
Those that were able to take the opportunity to take part in Evolve were a delight to work with. It was rewarding seeing the changes that best practice HR brought to their organisation, for some it was a leap of faith, they knew about the Equality Act but simply saw it as a piece of legislation instead of way of gaining competitive advantage and becoming a better employer.
I’ve loved explaining this to businesses and seeing their thinking change as a result of taking part in the workshop and using the extra support we could offer. For me this was truly rewarding, some organisations have just laid the foundations for their journey, whereas for others long term changes have taken place. This doesn’t just help the business, but it makes a positive difference for their employees and for their customers too.
Final Project Evaluation Findings for the Evolve strand:
Two thirds of employers (66%) surveyed outlined that the support has had a positive impact in helping their organisation to develop a diversity strategy.
The vast majority (77%) of employers felt that Evolve support has brought about an increased awareness of equality and diversity issues within their organisation.
Just under half of the employers surveyed highlighted that the Evolve support had a positive impact (either a significant or some level of impact) with respect to enhancing their corporate reputation and helping them to be regarded as an employer of choice.
Almost half (48%) of employers who responded to the survey noted that the support they received has already either helped maintain their current annual turnover or had some or a significant positive impact on the increase in turnover.
63% of employees identify a positive impact on their employees’ skills and competences, 60% outlined that support had made employees feel supported by them as their employer.
Just over half of employers (54%) outlined that Agile Nation support had helped employees work more effectively through flexible or remote working.
Evolve Exemplar Employer.
With businesses across Wales embracing equality and diversity Agile Nation created the Evolve Exemplar Employer Awards.
These provided recognition for organisations that moved above and beyond legal compliance in the areas of equality and diversity to create a flexible workplace and equality of opportunity for all employees.
In total 97 businesses from across Wales gained Exemplar Employer status, and we’ve prepared a selection of case studies from these organisations.
My Agile Nation.
Nicole has been a highly proactive member of the Agile Nation team, and since joining the project she’s been engaged in a wide variety of roles. One of these was to promote the Exemplar Employer Awards to businesses and offer practical support to guide them through the application process.
The businesses I’ve worked with have been so committed to improving their workplaces it was a real pleasure for me to be able to tell them about the Exemplar Employer Award. They really appreciated being able to gain an award they could put in their reception areas to show their proud commitment to being an employer that has embraced equality and diversity.
These were mainly small businesses and knowing how busy they are I was always impressed by their commitment to improving their workplaces, which made it all the more rewarding for me to see them achieve their Exemplar Employer status.