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A newly launched Skillnet initiative aims to address the diversity and inclusion skills gap among senior managers. The programme is designed to equip senior managers with the knowledge and skills required to create more inclusive and diverse workplaces.  

Carlow Kilkenny SkillnetWaterford Chamber Skillnet and Cork Chamber Skillnet, with support from Skillnet Ireland celebrated the first cohort of companies (22 businesses) to complete a new programme developed in association with the Irish Centre for Diversity (ICD)

This programme was designed by the three Skillnet Business Networks in collaboration with industry across the South-East and South-West regions. It follows research conducted by the Skillnet Networks which identified a skills and knowledge gap within SMEs in managing diversity and inclusion within their workforce. 

Upskilling senior managers within SMEs 

The newly developed programme enables businesses to evaluate, develop, and measure their organisations’ efforts in diversity and inclusion using the ICD Investors in Diversity frameworkThe programme upskills senior managers within SMEs and assists them in creating policies and procedures that prioritise diversity and inclusion as fundamental company values. It also helps businesses to develop and implement suitable policies to meet the programme’s standards, with the goal of achieving a Diversity & Inclusion Bronze Award. 

Peter Lennox, Development Advisor at Skillnet Ireland, said: “Skillnet Ireland recognises that diversity and inclusion are essential components to develop a successful and thriving talent pipeline. A diverse workforce that values and respects differences can lead to greater innovation, creativity, and productivity. We are proud of the great collaborative efforts demonstrated by our three networks in driving diversity and inclusion in our SMEs.” 

Ashling Ward, Network Manager at Carlow Kilkenny Chamber Skillnet, said: The challenge for SMEs is to put aside time to dedicate to learning about diversity and inclusion and then, when educated, to build the strategies into their companies. The impact as we see it is that companies based in our region will be more informed, educated and involved in the diversity and inclusion conversation at all levels in their organisation from recruitment stages through to training and development of staff at all levels. We feel this is a strong business strategy to sustain companies and develop talent agenda into the future.” 

Magna International wins Diversity Bronze Award 

Carlow-based business Magna International successfully completed the programme and won a Diversity Bronze Award in association with the ICD and Carlow-Kilkenny Skillnet. 

Siobhan Mellamphy, HR Manager at Magna International, said: “At Magna, we recognise that Diversity and Inclusion is not only about recognising the difference between us all, but accepting, embracing, and celebrating these differences as the true gifts they are intended to be. That’s why we are committed to attracting, retaining, and developing talent with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and capabilities.”  

“By fostering a culture of inclusion, we are working to make our employees feel not only valued but respected. It’s this mindset that increases the participation and contribution of all employees through a collaborative, supportive and respectful environment. We are very proud that we have received the Diversity Bronze Award, it is a clear sign that we are on the right path which we will continue to follow,” she added. 

Tommie Ryan, Network Manager at Waterford Chamber Skillnet said: “At Waterford Chamber Skillnet, we believe that businesses have much to gain from promoting D&I in their workplaces, which is why we decided to run this programme. Investing in talent development and support is essential to ensure that teams understand the importance of diversity and inclusion and the benefits D&I brings to everyone in the workforce. By investing in upskilling in D&I, businesses can foster a more inclusive culture, increase employee satisfaction and productivity, and ultimately drive business success.” 

PREM Hospitality, an international hotel and hospitality management company, that manages the Viking Hotel in Waterford, completed the programme by engaging with the Waterford Chamber Skillnet and is now on the path to a Bronze Diversity Award. 

Louise Barry, HR Manager at PREM Hospitality said: “As a hospitality business we have always benefitted from having a very diverse team. Working with Investors in Diversity has allowed us to ensure our culture and policies support all our team members and has made us more aware of how we can continue to do that. We were very pleased to have the opportunity, through Waterford Chamber Skillnet, to participate in this programme and can already see the benefits for the team, our customers and our business.” 

Research has shown that for Diversity & Inclusion to become an integral part of an organisation’s culture, there must be buy-in at the executive level. The challenge was to create a system that would provide SMEs with the necessary tools, techniques, and training to assess themselves in terms of workplace fairness, respect, equality, diversity, inclusion, and engagement.  

Caroline Tyler, Managing Director, Irish Centre for Diversity (ICD) said: “Investors in Diversity is Ireland’s premier diversity and inclusion accreditation mark.  It gives organisations clarity about where they are, where they need to go and also guidance to measure that the improvements they are working through are effective. SMEs are a major pillar of Irish society – generating 41.9% of total turnover in the business economy in 2020 – so our partnership with the collaboration between the Carlow-Kilkenny, Cork and Waterford Skillnet networks and their joint commitment to D&I in the workplace is so valuable. We celebrate the Skillnet members that are progressing with their Investors in Diversity path and look forward to working with them as they make further advances on the journey of continuous improvement.” 

This successful collaboration led by three Skillnet Business Networks and the Irish Centre for Diversity has facilitated the development of a structured and comprehensive framework to improve diversity and inclusion practices and culture in businesses across many sectors within the South-East and South-West regions.  

Learn more about Carlow Kilkenny Skillnet, Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Cork Chamber Skillnet

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