Leeds pioneers the diversity and inclusion evolution with launch of new collaborative learning network

1 September, 2015

- DWF, EY, Hays & Northern Rail founding members of new network
- Corporates identify benefits of adapting to changing socio-economic trends
- Membership still available for businesses looking to capitalise on D&I

Leeds, August 10th, 2015: Four national brands today launch Leeds based learning network, CIC (Creating Inclusive Cultures). This is a pledge to not only share existing and develop new strategies to foster cultures of inclusivity in their own organisations, but to advance their respective industries’ understanding of the impact of diversity and inclusiveness. The founding members of CIC are commercial law firm DWF, leading international professional services organisation EY, leading global specialist recruitment group Hays and nationally recognised transport network Northern Rail.

As a Northern economic centre, Leeds is positioned to pioneer the Diversity & Inclusion evolution as, not only does Leeds have the foundation of a top city to do business, but resources and support have been committed to the city to see it improve:

Charlotte Sweeney, previously heading up Diversity and Inclusion for Nomura and special advisor to former Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, developed CIC to support organisations that see inclusivity as a strategic advantage. Companies that understand socio-economic trends, such an ageing population, increased global migration and the laptop lifestyle movement, are able to adapt and thrive. The result is a company that has better talent attraction, development and retention. This has a positive impact on profitability and shareholder attitude.

Companies looking to capitalise on the benefits of Diversity & Inclusion can join the network at any point during the programme, which commences in September 2015. For more information on becoming a member contact Representatives from the member organisations of CIC will benefit from:

Charlotte Sweeney, CIC founder & CEO, comments on the launch:
"175 years after the Industrial Revolution changed the way we perceive an effective organisation, the D&I evolution is set to do the same. Stagnant and homogenous workplaces of the 20th century are being overthrown by business leaders who can see what the workplace, and workforce, of the future looks like.

"Not only do tomorrow's success stories see the value of innovation, creativity and better decision making that comes from diverse teams today. But they see the advantages of the changing demographics of tomorrow's workforce, and adapt to work with them.
"They see a generation of workers with skills and experience that are second to none getting to retirement age with little or no pension. They see a generation of workers entering the workplace with new attitudes and values, that work to live, not live to work. They see a generation in the squeezed middle, that need to adapt their work pattern to caring for ageing parents, or looking after children without giving up work. These are the business leaders of the future. And CIC is here to support them."

Suzanne Robinson, Partner and D&I Leader at EY in Yorkshire, said: “Diversity is about differences and inclusiveness is about leveraging those differences.

“The ability to learn from different perspectives is critical to driving innovation, and delivering the best approaches for clients and opportunities for employees.

“By building diverse workforces and concentrating on inclusiveness, firms can create high performing teams that are not only equal and fair, but help to realise competitive advantage.

“We believe that diversity and inclusiveness should be business imperatives – led from the very top of organisations – and look forward to working as part of CIC to share insights and develop new approaches to D&I.”

Pam Lindsay-Dunn, Managing Director of Hays in Yorkshire said: “As recruiters we have a responsibility to provide employers with access to the widest possible talent pool and the best candidates, regardless of background.

“At a time where skill shortages are spurring a war for talent, enlarging the pool of potential candidates is an imperative for organisations. By taking action to address this challenge and recognise the value of diversity we will be able to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals and performance of organisations across the UK.

“Hays is proud to be a founding member of CIC and we are delighted to have the opportunity to bring our expertise to this programme and actively share its recommendations with our many clients in the Yorkshire regions.”

Lee Wasnidge, sponsoring director of Northern Rail’s working together strategy comments:
“Building an inclusive environment is so important to our business because we value all our employees equally. We aim to create a culture that develops our employees and promotes fairness and equality.

“Recently, we achieved silver status Investors in People and we are also the first train operating company to achieve the Investors in Diversity accreditation. We're now working towards becoming a Leader in Diversity.

“We're proud of the progress we've already made and we are committed to do even more. We will continue with our commitment to become a truly inclusive employer, where our employees can build a career as well as recognise the importance of the community we serve and create an environment where all colleagues treat each other with dignity and respect.”

Nikki Hosty, Head of HR Support Services, Northern Rail, adds:
“I am a firm believer that equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is good for business. In order that we can grow and support the Northern economy, more businesses need to work together, build partnerships and share best practice. The CIC will enable us to do this.”

Gail Taylor, diversity and community engagement manager at DWF, said:
“At DWF, our values inform who we are, what we do and how we do it. We aim to demonstrate performance and value throughout all aspects of our business and the delivery of a performance enhancing diversity & inclusion agenda is no exception. Becoming more diverse rarely happens by accident, it has to be recognised as a key driver in building a profitable, sustainable and values led business, where leaders are motivated to leverage the benefits of diversity to enhance productivity and better decision making.

“We aspire to do things differently and being a visible part of the Creating Inclusive Cultures movement is consistent with our aim to leverage the benefits of diverse teams operating within an inclusive culture, to deliver unrivalled service for clients and creating a great place to work for our people.

“The biggest diversity and inclusion challenge facing our industry is responding to a changing society. The legal sector has been slow to respond to the opportunity that diversity can bring, and more needs to be done to change perceptions and traditional attitudes to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces and cultures.

“A diverse business is a stronger business that can attract and retain the best talent, and deliver enhanced service for clients who are increasingly looking to work with advisors who reflect their own diverse businesses.”

“We hope to challenge the status quo through demonstrating the business benefits and setting measurable diversity objectives to implement real change in our organisation and across the wider legal sector. Diversity is not just a HR issue. It presents a real opportunity to leverage key business benefits, and we would encourage all law firms and businesses across Leeds to implement key reforms to help improve diversity & inclusion across the city.”

Tom Riordan, Chief Executive, Leeds City Council:
“Leeds City Council is pleased to be support CIC (Creating Inclusive Cultures) which we view as an important initiative. The city has achieved significant economic growth in recent years, outperforming national comparators and demonstrating the hard work of businesses, the universities, the third sector and the council. The Council believes that now, more than ever, is the time for all communities in our diverse city to share in the benefits of the city’s economic growth.”

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Notes to editors:

About CIC
Every employee in the UK to should feel welcome, valued and respected at work, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, education, disability, sexual orientation or any other factors. CIC is a collaborative hub of companies that realise and take advantage of the benefits of D&I to achieve their business objectives and position their city as a thriving business centre.

CIC will accelerate the cycle of improved businesses, leads to improved cities, leads to an influx of customers and quality staff, leads to improved business. The first city to benefit from this catalyst is Leeds, however CIC is to launch in other Northern Powerhouses in the coming months and years.

About Charlotte Sweeney
Founder & Director of Charlotte Sweeney Associates, Charlotte offers advice and support across all aspects required to develop & deliver an effective change management strategy incorporating diversity, inclusion, wellbeing & employee engagement. She works across public, private & third sector organisations including Leeds City Council, The Department for Business Innovation & Skills, Coutts and The Institute of Chartered Accountants England & Wales.

Charlotte has created, led and advised on a number of high profile projects in recent years, including the ‘Power of Diversity’ programme for then Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, and the independent review of the Women on Boards Executive Search Voluntary Code, on behalf of The Secretary of State Vince Cable & Lord Davies.

Author to a variety of industry leading reports, Charlotte has won a number of awards including the Women in Banking & Finance Champion for Women award in 2012.

She holds a number of Non-Executive Director positions including the Mid Yorks NHS Trust, where she chairs the Workforce Committee. She writes for a number of professional publications, is a keynote speaker at both national & international conferences & a fellow of the Professional Speaking Association, RSA and Chartered Management Institute.

Qualified with over 20 years experience of leading significant change programmes in large global organisations, executive coaching, facilitation & training. She has created & delivered large scale Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing strategies for global organisations, most recently spending over three years as International Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Nomura International PLC, and previously five years as Diversity Manager at Barclays, followed by fours years as Head of Diversity & Wellbeing at HBOS.

About Suzanne Robinson, Partner and D&I Leader at EY in Yorkshire
Partner Suzanne Robinson, who is based in EY’s Leeds office, heads up the firm’s Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) team across the UK regions. A qualified accountant for 15 years, she has worked for EY in Bristol, London, Moscow and Leeds.

The firm’s Leader for Diversity and Inclusiveness in Yorkshire, Suzanne is part of the leadership team for EY’s women’s network – which has over 2,200 members – and regularly speaks at seminars on the importance of diversity in the workplace.

About Pam Lindsay-Dunn, Managing Director of Hays in Yorkshire
Pam Lindsay-Dunn is Regional Managing Director at Hays in Yorkshire and the North. Pam has over 20 years’ experience in recruitment, and in addition to managing over 250 employees across 17 locations in the region Pam is also responsible for compliance across the Hays UK & Ireland business. Pam has an English and Law Degree from Liverpool University.

About Lee Wasnidge, sponsoring director of Northern Rail’s working together strategy
Lee supports the move into the interim franchise agreement and associated transformation activity. He manages the transition into the short term franchise agreement period, including management of the change hub team.

About Gail Taylor, diversity and community engagement manager at DWF
Gail has over 25 years' experience within the legal sector and works directly with the Director of Corporate Engagement and Responsibility to further enhance DWF’s commitment to diversity and equal opportunity. This involves working with a number of best practice organisations, including as Race for Opportunity, Opportunity Now, Stonewall, Working Families, Black Solicitors Network and coordinating volunteering activities across all sites forging strong relationships with DWF’s chosen charities and external organisations. She was a pivotal member of the project team that helped DWF become the first law firm to achieve the ‘Clear Assured’ status establishing the firm as an inclusive recruiter for disabled talent. Gail is also part of the Diversity Steering Group and helps to deliver the firm’s strategic objective of creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace. This commitment to advancing the diversity agenda and creating a diverse and supportive working environment for all DWF colleagues was recognised at this year’s Stonewall WEI awards when Gail won the ‘Straight Ally of the Year’ accolade in Yorkshire and the Humber.

About Tom Riordan, Chief Executive, Leeds City Council
The youngest ever Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, Tom has helped set ambitious Best City and ‘Best Council’ goals. Together with the Leader, and working across all political groups, since 2010 he has overseen £145million of efficiency savings, pioneer status for the city's health and social care work, transformation of the council’s Children’s Services, and one of the leading devolution and city deals in the UK for the Leeds city region. Tom also contributed to delivery of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ and is currently supporting Leeds’ bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023.

Tom has come full circle from a North Yorkshire state education, via Oxford University, a Civil Service fast stream career on international environmental policy to leading the Regional Development Agency Yorkshire Forward.

Ever forward-looking, Tom is a member of the UK government’s Smart Cities Forum and drove the Commission that set out in 2012 a new “civic enterprise blueprint” for the Future of Local Government.

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