Companies, entrepreneurs and education institutions from across the South East came together recently at the successful Gatwick Diamond Skills Summit to promote the value and importance of equality and diversity in the workplace.
More than 90 business people from organisations of all sizes gathered at the Canon UK headquarters in Reigate, Surrey to hear from leading professionals about their personal experiences and work to address diversity, gender equality and inclusion within their organisations. The event, devised by Prowse & Co. Ltd, was sponsored by ExxonMobil, the Gatwick Diamond Initiative and Crawley College.
Speakers included broadcaster Maggie Philbin OBE, who spoke about her award-winning company TeenTech CIC and her passion for engaging young people in STEM subjects. Adrian Lock and Julia Wellbelove from Roffey Park Institute provided the context for the event and spoke about the benefits of creating teams of people from all backgrounds and perspectives.
Rosemary French OBE, Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, believes that diversity is an important issue for the Gatwick Diamond, as the area continues to be challenged by a shortage of skills in growth sectors such as DigiTech and Medical technology. She said: 'Companies need to increase their employee diversity to unlock the potential of the whole UK workforce to fill skills gaps and to help them compete overseas.'
Emma Machin who leads ExxonMobil’s successful Women’s Interest Network (WIN), shared how the company is working to improve the diversity of its workforce at all levels of the company from apprentices to senior managers. 'We know that our future business success depends on our ability to attract, retain, and inspire the best people from a diverse talent pool” she said. “It is also important we support our colleagues throughout their working lives, providing professional and personal development opportunities.'
Julie Kapsalis, Group MD at Crawley College, who chaired the Business Case Study panel said 'diversity is about celebrating difference and opening doors. We want to encourage more students to study subjects that will create opportunities for them, improving their career prospects and earning potential, whilst meeting employer needs.'
This was echoed by Joanne Rogers, Managing Director of marketing and events consultancy Prowse and Co. who created the event. She said: 'We are delighted with the success of the inaugural Gatwick Diamond Skills Summit. Diversity comes in many forms, not just gender, age and race, but also diversity of thought. We were delighted to see so many businesses, education institutes and entrepreneurs connect through this event to share best practice and progressive thinking. It really showed that diversity does bring dividends.'
You can find out more about diversity and inclusion on the website, as well as sign up for updates about future events. Visit www.gatwickdiamondskills.co.uk for more information.