Posted by

Jo Swinson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment relations, consumer and postal affairs

15 May 2013

I’m a firm believer that combining business and equality is a recipe for success. In my view, as Minister for Business and Minister for Women and Equalities, it’s simply good business sense to be treating people fairly, creating more inclusive and modern workplaces and ensuring we are drawing on the talents of everyone if we are going to bring sustained growth to the British economy.

I have been really inspired by the business-people I have met across the country.  In local chambers of commerce like Coventry and Warwickshire , the North East, Surrey and today in London, I have met entrepreneurs who, despite the challenges, work hard for their businesses, their employees and their local communities. What they told me was that equality benefits their businesses.  People like Lorna Fellowes, the Managing Director of Triton Showers in Nuneaton, whose company has a turnover of £54 million and a diverse workforce. She says that a successful team isn’t made up of just one kind of person – you need to include all sorts of talents.

What’s clear to me,  is that while there will always be challenges,  the vast majority of employers want the best for – as well as from – their employees, and they absolutely don’t need convincing of the positive business case for equality in the 21st century workplace!  But, many smaller firms told me that they don’t always feel they know enough and they want to be confident that they are complying properly with the law.

These events were designed to help raise awareness of and promote a greater understanding of equality laws. And I hope that the BCC booklet “Business is Good for Equality” will also act as a useful resource to give businesses the confidence they need to stamp out discrimination and champion a more diverse workforce. It’s a fantastic example of the excellent work the BCC and employers up and down the country are already doing to highlight how equality is good for business.

I also think being more open and transparent about gender issues will drive forward real change.  That’s why we created our “Think, Act, Report“ initiative which encourages companies to report on action to improve gender equality in the workplace. More than 90 companies, covering over 1.6 million employees, have already signed up. I hope they will inspire many others to follow suit.

I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with the BCC and with the business community on new industry-led initiatives that will help Britain’s economy get back to full health.

 

All views expressed in guest blogs are that of the authors, and not of the British Chambers of Commerce.