People and Culture professionals have taken the lead in supporting employees to adjust to new working practices brought about by the pandemic. However, at a time when it can feel as if there are more pressing matters to attend to, now is not the time to sideline diversity and inclusion activities or think that it is something we can turn our attention to once the pandemic is over. In fact, as we make plans for a post-Covid return to the office, it provides the perfect opportunity to accelerate efforts in progressing diversity and inclusion objectives. 

Our People Culture Team continues to have diversity and inclusion as a key business focus and has no intention of losing momentum. We understand the value of diversity in the workplace, whether that is having more women in director and senior management positions or devising policies that better support both current and prospective employees. It doesn't matter who our employees are or what their background is; at Stonbury, everyone is appraised on merit and their ability to contribute to the effectiveness of the business.

While we have already made significant progress during 2020 by implementing our new recruitment strategy, which includes blind screening, a 'Pick n Mix' style selection process and partnering with Women into Construction, there is clearly more work to be done before we achieve our ambition to become a progressive employer committed to engagement, diversity and inclusion. Therefore, we have signed up to EW's Inclusive Culture Pledge for the second year running, a public commitment to continue building a more inclusive workplace culture over the next 12 months. 

This year, we have pledged to 'build an inclusive culture by training people at all levels on how unconscious bias affects us all and what can be done to eliminate it. The year has kicked off with all employees completing an online CPD accredited Equality and Diversity Training module. Next, we will turn our attention to providing further input on the topic of unconscious bias to address workplace behaviour. We are also piloting a reverse mentoring programme, which pairs mentors from under-represented groups with mentees from senior management so that they can share perspectives and learn from each other. Ultimately, it all builds towards a more inclusive company culture.

There is no quick fix to shift the needle on diversity and inclusion issues in the workplace. However, over time our cumulative efforts will result in lasting changes that not only benefit employees on an individual basis but will also improve our business operations and corporate reputation.