IntoWork17 blog: Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.

11 July 2017

To everyone’s relief and possibly to some’s disappointment, no Charleston dance moves or party hats were involved in this session. The limelight was on Steps Ahead Mentoring, a volunteering programme run by the CIPD, that aims to shine a light on the challenges faced by young jobseekers, parents and carer returners and over 50s in accessing work and how improving this can help create more inclusive and diverse workplaces.

As the professional body for HR and people development, the CIPD has been encouraging its members, as HR professionals (the ‘gate keepers to jobs’), to volunteer their professional skills and mentor disadvantaged jobseekers struggling to access or re-enter the labour market. Steps Ahead Mentoring has been a great success, with 7 in 10 finding work on completing the programme and enabling many employers to meet with local jobseekers, learn more about their barriers to employment and think about diversity and inclusion in their own workplace.

During the session, the delegates had an opportunity to discuss some jobseeker case studies, that might struggle to find work, such as a young carer or a dad looking to go back to work after an employment gap. The great minds in the room, representing a diverse range of organisations and sectors, then came together to discuss their own spheres of influence and how they might use their knowledge and skills to help disadvantaged jobseekers into work.

Sabrina Willabus, a Steps Ahead mentor, who presented during this session, experienced this first hand when mentoring young people in South London:

“It’s important to recognise, respect and value people’s deference to contribute and realise their full potential by providing inclusive opportunity for everyone”

The key takeaway for the delegates was to identify their personal or organisational strengths which they can channel positively towards improving access to work by putting diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their thinking.

Sandra Jarzebska, Stepsahead Volunteer and Project Officer, CIPD