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The Role of HR in Diversity & Inclusion

Having launched in 2010, Derwent Facilities Management is an industry leader in providing facilities and management services across a broad spectrum of sectors, including education, healthcare, local authority, commercial, and private clients. As a business, Derwent fm prides itself on a transparent and honest business approach, and the team believes in clear definitions and inclusion for all.

As an operator of student accommodation up and down the country, Derwent fm is an interesting case study because there are significant crossovers between many different industry sectors where accessibility and inclusion are essential - namely HR, education, and social housing.

Lately, we reached out to Alex Greenwood, Head of People and Culture at Derwent fm, about her thoughts on the link between HR teams and diversity and inclusion factors. Alex has been a specialist in building positive cultures within organisations for over 20 years, and is certified in EQi2 (the world's most validated EQ assessment) and 360-degree feedback.

Why should those in HR job roles support diversity and inclusion?

HR professionals are integral to key parts of businesses. They support recruitment, advertising, interviewing, onboarding, training, and talent management. They are also heavily involved in restructures, reviewing workforce changes, designing policies and procedures, and advising on complex employee relation issues. A skilled and knowledgeable HR team within diversity and inclusion is essential to support the overall business plan. Diversity and Inclusion should be the golden thread for an HR team, in supporting the workforce to be the best it can be to enhance company performance.

Why is it important to Derwent fm to provide an inclusive online experience?

There are many strands to our Inclusion Strategy, one being the online experiences of our people and our customers. Our company is nationwide, and while we must always keep our business objective in mind, we are passionate about creating a culture where colleagues feel truly included whilst also providing customer excellence. Therefore, our approach for diversity and inclusion must include our HR processes as well as the service we provide to our customers.

Why Recite Me?

Investing in the Recite Me accessibility toolbar further demonstrates our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. These are the key reasons we invested in the Recite Me toolbar - for both our internal colleague intranet and also for our external company website:

  • In 2019, we introduced our colleague intranet to improve our communication across the company. We analysed our people data in conjunction with the intranet engagement ratings. A significant proportion of our colleagues originate from outside the UK, and their first language is not English.

  • From a customer perspective, we have a diverse number of customers worldwide who visit our company website to engage with our services. Therefore, having an inclusive online approach has to be high on our agenda.

  • We also considered learning difficulties that our online audience may encounter because we want to provide an accessible experience for a diverse range of people.

What is your feedback on the toolbar so far?

What I love about the Recite Me toolbar is the range of tools it provides. It supports people with a wide range of disabilities, including dyslexia, autism, partial vision etc. The accessibility software gives people choices to consume online information in a tailored way, enhancing their experience by allowing them to understand and navigate our services better.