An engaged workforce is a happy and productive workforce; this is the view of CEO of Broadland Housing Group Michael Newey, a champion of his company’s annual diversity and inclusion week, aptly named ‘Challenge and Change’. Michael provides his top five reasons why every business should consider running their own week to help improve employees’ understanding of equality and diversity.

1. Challenge prejudices to improve relationships

Prejudices are often based on ill-informed perceptions of other people. Changing these ensures that we treat others — co-workers, stakeholders and customers — with respect and understanding. This can have a significant impact on the deals and sales made by the business due to improved communication and empathy.

2. Mitigate risk

Our Challenge and Change Week is organised by a team drawn from across Broadland Housing Group. It brings together staff from many different locations, including lone workers working out of maintenance vans. This has a significant impact on staff engagement and helps to breakdown silos within the business, thus boosting collaboration and reducing the chance of errors occurring between different teams.

3. Improve staff moral and reduce sickness

We challenge staff to consider their own wellbeing and, whether the outcome is people undertaking more exercise or rethinking their diet, these benefits present themselves through an improved working environment and a potential reduction in staff sicknesses.

4. A cost-efficient way to engage your workforce

Many of our Week’s activities are organised at no cost to the organisation as staff use their personal contacts and other organisations in our local community.
The phrase “challenge and change” is now commonly used by our staff to gently challenge each other when they feel that someone has said or done something they feel is inappropriate and not in line with our values.

In my opinion, the key to a successful week is the encouragement of your staffs’ ideas and contribution: ensure your leadership is fully on board and supportive, empower staff to deliver the programme and gather feedback for continuous improvement.

Following Challenge and Change Week, we invite all staff to complete a confidential survey, so that we can find out what worked and what didn’t, as well as how we might shape next year’s activities.

Food for thought

We host many event during Challenge and Change Week, however, some of our most popular events have been:

  • Diversity sessions covering a wide range of social groups, including LGBT, gypsy and traveller, and asylum seekers.
  • The impact of social media on mental health and the risks of bullying, stalking and becoming a target of abuse.
  • A practical health-focused programme: Health checks for staff aged over 40, in partnership with the NHS, alternative therapy sampler sessions, menopause and testicular cancer awareness, mindfulness sampler sessions and free flu jabs.
  • A programme of physical activities: 'Broadland does Strictly' dancing sessions, five-a-side football, outdoor gym sessions, desk exercises and yoga.

Feel inspired? Make a commitment

Sign up to our Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM) and put diversity and inclusion at the heart of your business by adhering to the six key principles.

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