IN: Representation & Opportunity in the Workplace

Most of us have ambition – varying in degree but it’s there. We hope to climb career ladders, beat our personal bests and become the expert in our field. We are always encouraged to dream big and aim high. We invest in hard work, determination, lack of sleep… And a dash of inspiration? When analysing the top dogs you think about what they have and how you can get there. This is made much more difficult when they have no similarities to yourself, your qualifications and your background.

Our managers, directors and bosses need to be relatable. It can be incredibly demotivating to see yourself stuck in a position with no opportunities to progress. Some of us do not wish to take on more hours or responsibility, however lots of employees need to see where they could go in a company in order to stay productive and motivated to achieve targets and ultimately be able to do what the organisation needs them to do.

Positive diverse role models are essential in the workplace. For young people in particular, seeing people from various backgrounds be successful makes us feel it is within our own capability to achieve the same. This all goes back to the importance of organisations valuing diversity and equality, having the tools and support in place to accommodate all employees. In turn, this will allow for all employees to have the opportunity to climb the organisational hierarchy.

You can’t get away from the fact that businesses must employ and promote people based primarily on their skills and experience. But they need to create positions that every employee can aim for. This means going the extra mile to provide training, support and networks so that it is a level playing field.

“The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” – Viola Davis

There are other benefits of having representative bosses, directors and managers. For example this will encourage diverse employees to join your organisation. You will also be reflective of society and therefore have a better understanding of consumers and other businesses from varying backgrounds and industries.

Despite this being an operational issue (in terms of training etc), it is very much up to organisational culture to make a difference. Role models are important. Most of us have one person we look up to, we try to achieve what they have and mirror their behaviours. At work role models are equally as important. This is not to say that role models have to be those higher in the organisational hierarchy. Furthermore, it is crucial that organisations work to have a diverse workforce as a whole. But those at the top have the decision making power to make a difference and are likely to be the ones the rest of the organisation are watching.

Everyone should be able to dream and aim high, diverse and positive role models are a big part of that. Representation really does matter.


This post featured on the Inclusive Networks website.  Find out more about what they do here and check out their Twitter @incnetworks.


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