Diversity beyond dashboards

By Anand Puthran, CEO of McMenon Engineering Services, Workington

CUMBRIA risks falling behind other areas of the UK – and the world – if it fails to fully embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Anand Puthran, CEO of McMenon Engineering Services, Workington

Anand Puthran, CEO of McMenon Engineering Services, Workington

We need to ensure that Cumbrian businesses and organisations, both public and private, nurture and encourage diversity and inclusion as a core value which goes beyond dashboards.

Maintaining a diverse workforce in today’s globally-networked business environment is a fair and intelligent way ahead to success.

People who bring different experiences to a business also bring opportunities and better ways of doing things which in turn benefit the organisation, its people, and the community as a whole.

The more diverse the county, the more attractive a proposition it will be for inward investment.

When making decisions about what areas and what industries to invest in, investors will look at risks. If they don’t see that diversity and diversity of thinking in an area, but they see it elsewhere, that can lead to areas missing out and being left behind.

I chose to invest in Cumbria, to put real money, my life savings, into a company here and to move my family here.

McMenon’s section Team Leader Kelly Moore (right) and Engineering Apprentice Alanis Sanchez

McMenon’s section Team Leader Kelly Moore (right) and Engineering Apprentice Alanis Sanchez

We have amazing, innovative operations and businesses in Cumbria, including world-class engineering skills. But in a world increasingly led by digital transformation and artificial intelligence, upgrading our skills at the pace the world is updating should become our top priority.

Attracting more diversity into the Cumbrian workplace is a sure shot solution to success in the hyper-competitive, globally-connected world. Inclusiveness over insularity will help develop our talent pool for the future.

We need a concerted effort to make this happen. It’s important that this is not tokenism but is a genuine attempt to create a diverse environment through a culture of inclusiveness addressing disability, gender, ethnicity, age and LGBT+.

Leaders in businesses and organisations, particularly the influential public sector and government-funded countywide organisations, voicing their commitment is a start. But it’s crucial they take personal ownership in creating and nurturing a diverse environment and a culture of inclusiveness.

When I talk about diversity, I also mean encouraging a diversity of thinking.

I feel in today’s rapidly changing, technology-led, world we must be looking up to the younger generation. They think differently, see things differently, and can do things in a way that the experienced don’t. In my view any business which does not want to have that thinking and capability in their team that the next generation offers is missing an important opportunity.

I am keen for this to be the start of a conversation which leads to meaningful action, and choose to deliberately underplay the negative experiences I have endured as a person from a different background. But being in a leadership role I am keen to ensure no-one else has to face similar issues. If this has sparked your thinking on the best way forward for Cumbria and its business and organisations to embrace diversity I would be delighted to hear from you.

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