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7 February 2024

Towards a More Inclusive Workforce: Embracing Diversity and Gen Z’s Energy


Paul Evans is CEO at Box UK, a renowned digital firm specialising in software consulting, development, and expertise in user experience. He explores the influence of Gen Z on business practice and emphasises the benefits that arise from embracing a more diverse workforce.

Paul’s experience in the tech industry has taken him across the world, from Boston to South Africa, and now back to his Welsh roots in Cardiff, where he leads a team of digital innovators. As Paul explains:

“I have quite a balanced view from working on both sides of what we would call a client-supplier relationship. At Box UK, we're very much on the supplier side, providing digital solutions and services to end clients to positively influence their business outcomes.”

As CEO, part of his business strategy highlights the importance of actively embracing diversity and creating an inclusive work environment.

He says, “One of our critical goals is to attract and retain the best talent, and the best talent comes from a variety of different backgrounds and lived experiences. People truly are the foundation of Box UK, so embracing an inclusive culture allows us to attract the best talent.

“In a business like ours where we’re all about innovative solutions, making the most of a wide range of employee perspectives means we are able to challenge each other’s ideas to find the best solutions and avoid a one-dimensional approach.”

However, as Paul indicates, ambitions to foster an inclusive workforce need to be twofold. As he explains,

“While attracting diverse talent is important, if we don’t also focus on maintaining an inclusive culture, we won’t retain those people. It’s important that our employees align with our values, feel respected and are supported to be able to do their jobs effectively, in addition to positively enhancing our culture and environment”.

“Creating the right culture means our employees bring the best of themselves to work, and this, in turn, delivers the best services to our clients.”

Box UK works towards a more inclusive culture through various means. Paul describes some of the steps they're taking to break down barriers to employment:

“Using gender-neutral language in our job profiles, having diverse recruitment panels, and having our recruiters go through unconscious bias training are just a few of the ways we can help attract new, diverse talent.”

Box UK also participates in a number of activities that sit aside from their day-to-day business operations.

Paul says, “We engage in industry events such as Wales in Tech, which have a focus on employees, recruitment, diversity, and inclusion as well as industry insights. One of our employees shared the stage to talk about her experience with dyslexia, and how this impacts her work. I also took part in a separate talk addressing men’s mental health and its significance within a business environment. We encourage our team to participate in conversations and events like this to contribute to progression in our industry.”

Paul also discusses Box UK’s internal events, coined ‘un-boxed’ spotlight sessions, where employees are given the opportunity to share insights about their own lived experiences. Paul recounts:

“One of our project managers who is profoundly deaf has worked with us to deliver sessions that educate our colleagues about her experience in the workplace and advise on how we can work together to support overcoming any obstacles at work. We want to continue encouraging an environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds feel empowered to express their authentic selves in the workplace. ”

A focus on harnessing that inclusive environment has been a strategic business objective for Box UK and has been further spotlighted in recent years as a result of an influx of Gen Z entering the workforce and their influence on core values.

As Paul explains, “I find that Gen Z have a hunger to be aligned to a purpose perhaps more than any other demographic, and it’s important to them who we are and what we are doing, particularly around corporate stewardship.

“The business welcomes an increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion, minimising our carbon footprint, engaging in charity initiatives, and embracing other values that define this generation. These areas of focus help us to continually improve as a business.

“Within the tech industry specifically, the inclusion of Gen Z in the workforce has introduced a digital proficiency that enables us to explore new possibilities as a company. This also brings in fresh perspectives, facilitating the continuation of innovative approaches to our business, which can in turn translate to our clients.

Paul highlights the policies that have evolved  from a greater emphasis on corporate values. He explains that

“flexible working arrangements, that include the ability to work abroad, have helped us all to have a better work life balance, and enabled us to understand the many needs of our diverse workforce, and ultimately contributed to employee wellbeing and overall productivity.

“The infusion of new values and innovation, matched with the well-established expertise of our team, creates a winning formula for our business’ success.

Looking ahead, Box UK is dedicated to learning and development both internally and externally to uphold its diversity and inclusion commitment.

Paul says. “We’re currently working with and investing in education institutions to have a positive influence on the talent pool and make roles in our industry appealing to everybody. Our goals in this context involve ensuring that the talent entering our business is diverse, with the hope that this will also lead to a capacity to connect with a broader clientele who can better relate to us.

He acknowledges, “there’s always ways to improve our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and I definitely believe that there is more we can do. It’s all about a combined willingness to evolve, putting policies into place, but then continuing to reevaluate and change these initiatives as the needs of the workforce change as well.”

“I’d recommend other businesses to prioritise diversity and inclusion as a strategic business imperative, taking the lead by setting an example for others in your industry. Demonstrating passion and a commitment to formalising these values in your operations not only attracts diverse talent but also the most valuable skills.”

As part of the Welsh Government’s support for employers, Business Wales Recruit and Train provides comprehensive support to address businesses' skills, training, and recruitment needs, including a variety of programmes aimed at helping employers access a wide and varied pool of talent including those supported by the Young Person’s Guarantee. Its campaign, We’re in Your Corner, helps to raise awareness of the range of support available to employers to help them achieve their business goals.

For further information, search ‘Business Wales: We're in Your Corner,' contact 03000 6 03000, or go to https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/were-in-your-corner.


 



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