Centre for Assessment helps Vista put diversity and inclusion first

30
Nov
  • Nico Lee

Cheadle-based business Vista provides employment and HR training and consultancy to large organisations. The company employs 14 people, including specialists who carry out employment law surgeries, grievance investigations and tribunal representation.

People are at the heart of what the business does, and achieving BS 76005:2017 Diversity & Inclusion has given recognition to the policies and procedures they already had in place.

“We teach diversity and advise on inclusion, so we decided we should really have the standard too, in order to demonstrate that we practice what we preach,” explains Yvonne Saxon, Vista’s head of HR and Diversity & Inclusion services.

The standard provides a framework for organisations to develop a management system for valuing people and can help to minimise risks around equality issues and compliance with legislation. It can also help organisations to be more successful in attracting, retaining and developing talent while demonstrating social inclusion which has also been shown to be an important factor in winning new business and tenders.

Before starting to work with Centre for Assessment, Yvonne had approached several other centres but was surprised to discover that none dealt with the standard.

As part of the pre-assessment preparation, CfA provides a questionnaire to help the business focus on what they needed to supply. “It proved really good guidance, and covered things I knew we did, but which we hadn’t actually written down in our policies,” says Yvonne.

“What the process showed was that although we already had lots of the things in place, we still had work to do, making sure that procedures were documented and there was real structure to what we were doing,” she adds.

The questionnaire also prompted Yvonne to carry out a diversity audit across the business, which she could benchmark against external data. This gave her a better idea of people’s backgrounds, education, ethnicity and religion, and helped to highlight where the company needed to improve.

The assessment itself involved interviews with the company’s employees, explains Yvonne, and there was a worry that it was going to be quite an onerous task. “But it actually turned out to be a really positive experience. There was a real buzz about the place and the assessor was great at making everything informal and relaxed.”

Because of their HR background, Vista took just six weeks to prepare for the assessment. They will now be re-tested after 18 months, and then every year.

“Gaining the standard had an immediate impact,” recalls Yvonne. Vista was recruiting for a new position that involved a mixture of different responsibilities, requiring someone with a diverse skill set, and it was proving a hard role to fill.

“The person who we finally found actually said to us that the reason she applied was that she saw that we had the standard,” explains Yvonne. “She was looking for more than just a good wage and wanted to work for a company that had clear ideas about the importance of diversity and inclusion.”

Since becoming accredited, several of Vista’s clients have also signed up for the standard and to support them, and give them important insights into the accreditation process, Yvonne has completed her assessor training, as well as becoming involved in helping to develop the BS Valuing People standard.

Richard Hamilton, business development manager at Centre for Assessment adds: “Vista is a testimony to how BS 76005 can add tangible value to an organisation and foster a spirit of constant self-evaluation.  Our assessor was able to work closely with the Vista team to recognise the things they were doing well and this external verification has highlighted Vista as a positive model to others in the sector.”