She also warned that some businesses still aren’t taking diversity and inclusion seriously and that many organisations are guilty of tokenism over the issue.
“We need to be very mindful of the fact that although Scotland is a welcoming country, there are still pockets of hate borne through religion and culture. That hate can come into the workplace too,” said Charlwood-Green who is also founder of the Wow network which supports LGBT women in the workplace.
“As a nation, we need to make sure that we don't just speak with ambition, we show it with our actions too, being active allies and celebrating a diverse population and by extension, workforce.”
Charlwood-Green, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the sector, said a more diverse workplace is “happy, more creative and has better staff retention”.
“My advice for business leaders is to embrace reverse mentorship, where a junior employee helps to fill knowledge gaps of a senior employee, to truly understand lived experiences, and then do something about it.”
Charlwood-Green will be speaking at the “Strive to Thrive” diversity conference in Glasgow later this month. Close to 100 business leaders are expected to attend the event, organised by Scottish leadership consultancy Connect Three.
Katy Morrison, leadership coach at the Glasgow-based business, said the experience of the pandemic had shown that the most resilient businesses were often those that were most invested in supporting their employees.
“And while many businesses have already made some positive steps to implement diversity and inclusion policies into the workplace, there continue to be serious shortcomings that hold teams back,” she said.
“Diversity is often only seen as just multiculturalism, but it is important for businesses to think outside of the ‘ethnic’ model of diversity. After all, Scotland is not statistically a very ethnically diverse country, with the percentage of the population identifying as white currently sitting at 96 per cent.
“As Scotland’s population changes, it’s clear that organisations which truly value diversity need to understand and account for differences in ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, language, education, and more.”
Thiago Carmo, managing director at Livingston-based creative agency and social enterprise Passion4Social, is also speaking at the event and will highlight the benefits to businesses of a better approach to diversity.
“Increased diversity and inclusion lead to higher productivity, collaboration, flexibility in decision making and versatility in tackling problems. It’s about removing prejudice, and leaders can achieve this by giving opportunities, using unbiased recruitment, and looking at people as people without labels.”
Connect Three was founded in 2014 and provides consultancy services and training to businesses to improve leadership capability, organisational development and boost performance management.
The conference will take place at Glasgow’s Citation on April 28.