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Creating a workplace diversity programme

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Diversity - the fundamental practice that sits at the very core of athletics. The realm of sports remains one of the most exceptionally diverse environments, bringing together skilled and talented athletes from all corners of the globe.

Over the many years, the world of athletics has welcomed in some remarkable talent, showcasing a vast range of personal characteristics and qualities. Athletes are world-recognised and celebrated, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, religion, physical ability, education and sexual orientation. It is this unprejudiced approach and open willingness to accept people from all cultures and walks of life that makes the athletics sector, truly extraordinary.

Throughout time, we’ve celebrated the success of repeat world cycling champion, Joe Berenyi, and we’ve applauded for the achievements of former women’s ice hockey player, Amanda Trunzo - the first ever USA female to become the World Champion. We’ve remembered and rejoiced for so many other athletic names, including Usain Bolt - an incredible sportsman, considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time; Natalia Partyka, the world’s youngest ever Paralympian aged just 11, and Kelly Cartwright, gold medallist in the Women’s 100m T42 event.

We’ve celebrated these spectacular people and their individual achievements because of great athletic diversity, but this is a practice that should also be paramount across the corporate landscape. Diversity within the workplace is an important aspect of good people management and at Athlete Career Transition, we’re ferociously devoted to bringing in a broad range of talent and unique skillsets from all kinds of athletes, continually promoting the importance of inclusivity across several corporate sectors. Diversity in its most basic explanation is the simple principle of valuing each person as an individual, but the implementation of this in business, can often be much more complex. Many companies, big brand names and world-recognised organisations boast about their diverse recruitment processes, claiming to accept and interview candidates from all walks of life. While this may well be true, the reality remains that talent pools at some of the largest corporations worldwide remain all too white, too able-bodied and predominantly male.

What are the benefits to expanding the workforce to be a more diverse and inclusive environment, and how can your company or organisation create successful diversity recruitment and workforce programmes?

Targeted recruitment can be a great way to start the ball rolling in terms of diversity. By targeting your recruitment efforts to not just involve minorities, but instead to specifically search for such candidates means that you’re much more likely to recruit a broader range of employees. Targeted recruitment programmes have proven successful across the globe as a useful diversity tool, and many organisations who go out to search specifically for minority groups, have reaped the invaluable rewards of their efforts. If you’ve never tried to headhunt for a retired athlete, a former Paralympian or a skilled woman with exceptional leadership skills, perhaps this new approach is key to future success.

Incorporating a mentorship programme within the workplace is also a solid strategy for improving workplace and managerial diversity. Customising mentoring programme goals so that they align with the organisation's business objectives will ensure success. Of course, you’ll need to make the programme fully inclusive and you should strive to implement thorough and concise mentor training. This will guide your employees to each understand their individual roles within the programme and will also help to set expectations. Mentoring seems to be a practice adopted by many companies who are keen to move the diversity and inclusion needle, but unfortunately, several miss the mark on faultless execution. Building your mentorship programme from well-thought out concepts can be a superb way of bringing together a mix of personalities and distinctive characteristics to create a diverse workforce that’s both more engaged and productive.

Offering diversity and inclusion training to all staff members, extending the training programme beyond the managerial line, can also support a positive movement across the working community.

Providing essential awareness and skills training and educating employees on how to work well alongside people from different backgrounds will enhance communications across the board.

When correctly implemented and executed, training programmes such as this can help companies and organisations realise the benefits of diversity, including better innovation, strengthened decision-making, improved work quality, happier staff and generally more productive teams. Some of the very best and thriving organisations are built on multi-faceted and multi-talented foundations. The collaborative of a broad range of experience and talents can create exceptional teamwork results and can lift the atmosphere of an otherwise ordinary place, to one that’s quite extraordinary.

At Athlete Career Transition, we fully believe that retired athletes bring a wealth of invaluable benefits to any organisation. We’ve worked alongside many businesses across a broad range of sectors, and we thoroughly support and encourage businesses to recruit elite athletes into their talent pools. Here, we understand how the experience of these hard-working, inspiring individuals can promote healthier, innovative working environments.

You can find out more about the work we do through our insights and check out our success stories on our athlete's page.


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