Diversity Brings Collective Knowledge And Insight

25/09/2017 11:34 BST | Updated 25/09/2017 11:35 BST

The National Trust recently came under fire, not for tax avoidance, not for corporate manslaughter, but for a survey sent to its 65,000 volunteers which included diversity monitoring questions.

It asked volunteers to provide anonymous data about their race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. It is fairly standard for organisations to ask their staff and volunteers such questions for diversity monitoring purposes - but these optional questions in an optional survey did not go down well with sections of the media.

The gist of the uproar seemed to be, 'Why is an organisation that exists to preserve buildings, landscapes and estates, preoccupying itself with accessibility?'

Cynics might ask, 'What is the relevance of someone's sexuality or colour to their ability to do the job?' Well, precisely. There should be no barrier.

So if an organisation wasn't attracting or recruiting from a significant minority in society then wouldn't it be in its best interests to find out why?

There is talent in all walks of life and diversity brings collective knowledge and insight.

It is not a false economy for organisations to carry out surveys to find out from where they are bringing in talent - and who they might be missing out on.

This week is National Inclusion Week and at Barnardo's we put equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do, from the way we support people to who works or volunteers for us.

For us, building a 'diverse' Barnardo's is writ large at the core of the ten year corporate strategy (2016-2025).

We are building a more diverse and representative workforce and will next month be celebrating 30 years of Black History Month. For decades we have been striving to make our workforce and volunteers more representative of the communities we support.

Today, Barnardo's continues to build a presence in all communities to meet diverse needs in a culturally appropriate and sensitive way. We are developing managers who can lead and deliver services that meet those aims, working with commissioners, partners and funders.

We have set ourselves ambitious targets to improve our diversity and inclusion standing. By the end of the decade we aim to have a 50% increase in success rates for BAME recruitment and the attraction rate for disabled applicants.

We also want a 50% increase in uptake by BAME service users and to raise BAME volunteer representation from 3% to 10%; men from 30% to 40%; young people from 31% to 40%; and over 65s from 5% to 25%.

Creating a workforce that is inclusive of our LGBT staff and volunteers is vital if we are to fully understand the needs of LGBTQ young people. Our work in this area has been praised and we are one of six organisations shortlisted this year by Pink News in the Third Sector Equality Award.

Barnardo's has also led the way in campaigning for LGBTQ fostering and adoption and

has helped many children to thrive in loving, safe family environments.

We help to educate young people about equality, diversity and inclusion and to increase LGBTQ awareness. We provide a wide range of services to support LGBTQ young people. Our Positive Identities service challenges the attitudes, perceptions and behaviour of schools, families, faith and wider communities towards LGBTQ people.

We developed free LGBTQ resources for teachers unsure if they were allowed to teach about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans relationships. These resources help them to educate children about same sex relationships and gender and sexual identities as part of lessons in sex and relationships classes.

Our diverse staff and volunteers have helped us to become the diverse organisation we are today. We have worked very hard over the years to become an organisation that reflects and supports the communities that have evolved in the UK during that time. We want to continue to adapt and grow in a way that fits with the growing diversity of the UK now and in the future, supporting the needs of children from all backgrounds.

All organisations should embrace diversity, inclusivity and aim to attract and represent all sections of the community. It's a win-win scenario.