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Diversity in the workplace – do you really get it?

Guess, what!? The theme for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is: Celebrate Diversity!

Renowned in the UK for its kitschiness Eurovision is also welcomed by many for its power to celebrate “…difference and yet [be] proudly united…” as the Guardian’s US art critic Jason Farago says.

So what has Eurovision got to do with your career? Well, as workplaces become more diverse employees have to demonstrate a capability to work with and form business relationships with people from all backgrounds.

And, Eurovision offers a great lesson in how to be a more aware and inclusive employee.

What is Diversity Exactly?

Diversity aims to recognise, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realise their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture for all.

And The Equality Act 2010 seeks to end discrimination in the workplace and wider culture on the basis of:

gender reassignment
marriage and civil partnership
pregnancy and maternity
religion or belief
sexual orientation

Can You Demonstrate Your Commitment to Diversity?

Most of us will have noticed that organisations and businesses will cite their diversity commitments on their websites, applications forms and so on.

But it works the other way around too. Employers want to see that you’re inclusive, culturally sensitive and respectful of others.

So, when going for an interview it’s a good idea to prepare some answers on how you understand diversity in the workplace.

Some ways to do this include:

Articulating the benefits of working in a diverse, inclusive community
Demonstrating your experience of working with people representative of modern British society
Describing the benefits of having worked with a diverse community of people and how what you have learnt could contribute positively to the business
Showing how you have participated in making your workplace a welcoming environment to all
Attending Equality & Diversity seminars and workshops
Discussing how you’ve worked with groups to overcome barriers to inclusion
Describing how you been part of a cross culture volunteer programme. What have you learnt?
Showing that you appreciate the needs of others from a social or work context

How Does Eurovision Celebrate Diversity?

​Past retirement age? Not problem: 76-year-old Engelbert Humperdinck entered the contest for the UK in 2012. And he’s not alone, remember the Russian Grannies (Buranovskiye Babushki)?

Disability? Bring it on: Finland’s Viennese entry Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat – or PKN – was a punk rock band formed of adults with various development disabilities who entered to raise awareness for people with Down’s Syndrome. Amazing, right? If only real pop was a bit more inclusive…

Bringing gender reassignment to the table: Now there’s Caitlin Jenner, but first there was Dana International. Way back in 1998 the Israeli pop singer won the contest with a song called Diva.

All relationships are celebrated: In 2014 the Danes even offered Eurovision weddings. And in celebration of the 25th anniversary since the first same-sex civil partnerships were officially registered there, they started by marrying three same-sex couples from Russia.

Working mums make an impact: There have been quite a few pregnant performers on the Eurovision stage, but most memorable is probably Estonia’s Birgit Õigemeel who performed in her long flowing white dress – which had to be let out while she was at the contest.

Everyone is welcome: When it began in 1956 just seven countries took part Back then Eurovision was seen as one way to help rebuild European relations post WWII. But times have changed. Forty-two countries are participating in 2017’s contest, including Australia – just because they love it.

Belief isn’t a barrier: While issues of integration and terrorism have rocked the west in recent years 2016’s winner Ukraine’s Jamala is a proud, practicing Muslim: “I really want peace and love to everyone,” she said, hoisting the Eurovision trophy and a Ukrainian flag.

Last note:

An inclusive workplace culture is one where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, and everyone feels valued. And, while politics and legislation seeks to set that in place, the glittering celebration that is Eurovision puts the serious subject of diversity and inclusion centre stage and shows us it’s up to all of us to be the change.

For more detailed information on the effect of diversity legislation at work see the ACAS website.
And, if you need a little career support along the way Angel is here.

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