While there have been great strides made in workplace equality over the past several decades, there are still many firms that struggle to create a truly diverse and inclusive environment — something that is often reflected in workplace statistics and surveys. For example, only seven percent of FTSE 100 companies have female leaders, members of BAME groups currently make up fewer than 10 percent of management jobs and more than a third of LGBT staff have yet to come out at work due to fears of discrimination. Most recently, a Glassdoor survey found that 55 percent of UK workers had witnessed discrimination based on age, gender, race or LGBTQ status in the workplace. Increasingly, employees are demanding change — the same survey found that 54 percent of UK workers believe that their companies should be doing more to increase diversity and inclusion (D&I). But what exactly should that involve?
To find out, we spoke with Claire Evans, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at easyJet. easyJet have invested heavily in D&I, and the proof can be found throughout their company. easyJet employs people of 50 different nationalities, partners with OUTStanding, an organisation which promotes LGBT D&I in the workplace and has an executive management team made up of 50 percent women — including the Chief Executive. In addition, they have made an ambitious commitment to hire 20 percent new female entrant pilots by 2020, which they are well on their way to achieving.
Below, Evans shares how easyJet think about D&I, what initiatives they have put in place to increase it and why having a Head of Diversity & Inclusion has benefited their business — read on!
Glassdoor: What does diversity and inclusion mean to you at easyJet?
Claire Evans: At easyJet we are striving to create accessibility to the travel industry across Europe no matter your background, preferences or experience. We are focussed on creating an inclusive and energising environment where everyone can learn, grow and feel they can be themselves at work.
Glassdoor: Have you seen increased interest around diversity and inclusion from your employees and candidates? If so, in what ways?
Claire Evans: We already have a very diverse set of people across our European business and developing our engaging and inclusive environment is an everyday conversation across the business. Our candidates often ask about not just their development opportunities but about the community and environment they will be working in. We know that growth opportunities and culture are now equally as important in decision making in our career planning.
Glassdoor: What challenges does the airline industry face in terms of diversity?
Claire Evans: Current challenges in our industry are about creating diversity within stereotypical roles type, such as pilots. In 2015 we launched our Amy Johnson Initiative to encourage more women to become pilots and set ourselves an ambitious target of attracting 20 percent female new entrant pilots by 2020. In 2018 we reached 15 percent up from six percent in 2015 and so we are well on track to reaching our target. We are also focussing on changing gendered perceptions of the role in the long term through a programme of pilot visits to schools and colleges and we’ve also partnered with Girlguiding to sponsor the aviation badge for Brownies; over 7000 girls aged 7 – 10 have already completed the badge.
Glassdoor: How do you measure diversity and inclusion at your company?
Claire Evans: Our strategy at easyJet has four pillars for success; Creating ‘Firm Foundations’ through process and data; Reviewing all policy and activity to ensure we have the right ability to increase accessibility and our mix; Developing our ‘Orange Spirit’ and inclusive behaviours and working in partnerships to understand best practises and learn from experts in their fields. We measure engagement and how our people feel at work through regular surveys, with a focus on people feeling they can be themselves in the workplace.
Glassdoor: What are the benefits of having one person dedicated to diversity & inclusion full-time rather than it being distributed amongst a team?
Claire Evans: It means there is a consistent approach and framework being built which can then be interpreted for local needs (we have over 30 bases across Europe) but the main priorities, focus and messages remain the same.
Glassdoor: What are your main areas of focus as Head of Diversity & Inclusion, and what are your goals moving forward?
Claire Evans: My current focus is on developing tools and education for our people on the power of inclusive environments and everyone’s impact. I am also working alongside our Trailblazer team to organise events throughout the year to celebrate and educate. We will measure this through engagement, development and performance.
Glassdoor: What skills does a Head of Diversity & Inclusion need in order to be successful in their job?
Claire Evans: The largest benefit for me — having worked in other areas of the business — has been my understanding of business needs and activities, so we can apply this strategy in a bespoke way to each area of the business. Empathy is also essential when working in this area for each circumstance but also for the day-to-day business life we live in and the impacts that has.
Glassdoor: What initiatives have you introduced in order to create an inclusive workplace?
Claire Evans: We have created a programme of activity which include a new communication channel for everyone to share their stories and experiences, creation of a network group of Trailblazers working across the business to embed activity and change, a review of support tools for returning to work after lengthy absences and our Smart Working approach for flexibility in working locations and timings. There is much more to come in the future.