As the three-day Northern Powerhouse summit is taking place in Gateshead, diversity champion Garth Dallas said companies across the North needed to fully embrace inclusion. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool-based diversity champion Garth Dallas is calling on business and political leaders across the Northern Powerhouse to embrace the diversity agenda.
The three-day Northern Powerhouse summit is taking place in Gateshead and brings together businesses, government ministers, Northern Mayors and business leaders from across the North of England.
They will discuss the how to shape the next stage of the Northern Powerhouse and Mr Dallas, who runs the Dallas Legal law firm in Liverpool, says it is the perfect time to put diversity front and centre of the project.
In June, he organised the fourth Diversity and Inclusion Conference at Liverpool’s International Business Festival, which took place at Exhibition Centre Liverpool.
He says the time is now right, with Brexit looming, for companies and organisations across the north to fully embrace diversity and inclusion in their supply chains for business and ethical reasons.
“We’re calling on Northern business leaders to look at their supply chains and ask how many of those firms are run by women, black people, people with disabilities or elderly people,” said Mr Dallas.
“In the long run it will benefit business – there is a measurable return on investment.”
Mr Dallas is keen to bring together businesses in the North of England to place diversity and inclusion as a cross-cutting theme in all the aims and objectives of the Northern Powerhouse. He has developed the Diversity and Inclusion Business Forum to do just that.
In an interview with LBN prior to the his conference last month, Mr Dallas said: “In order to make diversity and inclusion work in an organisation there has to be a real buy-in from the chief executive and his or her senior team.
“It also also about how you recruit and retain people so the involvement of HR people is very important.”
He is calling for the Northern Powerhouse to develop an Inclusive Procurement Standard for the partnership and for the Diversity and Inclusion Forum to become a membership group comprising existing Northern Powerhouse partner companies, along with other organisations who are committed to the Forum’s charter.
He is keen for the Powerhouse to organise annual Diversity and Inclusion Business Awards to celebrate companies who “practise what they preach”.
“It’s certainly not about ticking boxes”, Mr Dallas added. “It’s about making businesses more efficient and getting the best skills base from the widest possible workforce, and that means including people who have hitherto been excluded.”