Diversity in The Face of Adversity

July 26, 2016 | Maddox Women in Tech

Following the UK's recent vote to leave the European Union, we have been inundated with negative economic forecasts and stark warnings that the UK will lose its position as the financial and technological capital of Europe. There are predictions of a brain drain, of Universities suffering, of investors shunning UK startups, of a collapse in the housing market, the decimation of the value of the pound and that the UK will be punished, heavily, for having the temerity to leave the World's largest free-trade zone. However, regardless of one's views on Brexit, a democratic process has taken place and the demos has spoken; it remains to be seen whether 52% of the British public were right to take this historical plunge.

While politicians wrangle with one another and ideologies clash, the rest of us have to get on with our lives and make the best of the hand we have been dealt. With that in mind, one of the most worrying aspects of the current situation is the statements being released by the major companies in our economy; many are freezing or reducing hiring strategies, many are predicting heavy financial losses and many are contemplating relocating their operations to mainland Europe. These sorts of reactions, although a shame, are to be expected given the current climate. However, a primary concern for us has to be that a few potential outcomes of such reactions are that the depressing economic prophecies will become self-fulfilling and that much of the progress we have made in terms of societal diversity will be undone.

Traditionally, diversity in the workplace has not been a priority for many employers, this is clearly evident in the prevalent pay gaps or the number of CEOs who are women or from ethnic or other minorities. We have seen this situation significantly change for the better in recent times, not just in terms of bridging the gender gap but across the diversity spectrum; people from all backgrounds, of all genders, of all ethnic minorities, of all sexual persuasions and people with disabilities have seen increased empowerment and had the chance to maximise their potential in a way not possible in the past. For many companies and people, particularly from the younger generations, passionate about equality, a huge fear is that diversity initiatives will be dropped down the list of priorities as companies revert to type in order to protect profits and survive the predicted economic turbulence.

Obviously, business is business and companies must make money to continue operating, but the financial / business benefits of diversity have been documented over and over again and are now considered to be mainstream fact by anybody with an open, progressive mind. Surely, keeping a diverse and forward-thinking workforce is one of the most important weapons in a company's armoury against an economic downturn.

As a people, a population bound together by citizenship and cultural ties, we each have a duty to ensure progress is not sacrificed in favour of profit-based protectionism. It is the strong belief of Maddox Events that now, more than ever, everybody must turn their minds to innovation, progress and development in order to keep our country on track as a world leader in liberalism, tolerance, business, education and social stability. We implore all business leaders to maintain a heavy focus on diversity and equal opportunity. We plead with every active participant in the UK economy to remain positive, to accept that change is inbound, to acknowledge that with change comes opportunity and lastly, to realise that this opportunity cannot be maximised from a negative standpoint.

It is not an outrageous statement to say that our collective power and ability is worlds greater than the power and ability of a small group of leaders and politicians. It is for that simple reason that we should all be thinking about how to embed equal opportunity and collaboration into every aspect of our economic and indeed day-to-day existences. As a nation, we should accept collective responsibility for our futures and ensure, for ourselves, that the country we live in boasts a fair and egalitarian system. This bottom-up approach would eventually induce real change in our society and perhaps erode some of the issues that led to the Brexit vote.

Maddox events will be maintaining our hiring strategy and our commitment to diversity. We believe fully in the power and necessity of a collaborative society and economy, and we will continue with a positive approach in dealing with the impending uncertainty brought about by the UK's departure from the EU. We consider ourselves to be unequivocally European despite the severing of political ties with the EU and we encourage anybody interested in a career in media and conferences to approach us, no matter your background.