For the latest Corporate Insights feature, in which we speak with the global firms that have done it all, we’ve sourced the experience of Fujitsu’s UK & Ireland lead of diversity and inclusion, Sarah Kaiser.
Starting by explaining why the business considers itself a “People Company”, Kaiser detailed: “At Fujitsu we pride ourselves on offering services which are human-centric – after all, we’re all about making things work for people. That’s why we believe that without a real mix of people, business will struggle to be successful.
“As an international company, we have people from many different walks of life working for us, each bringing their own skills, experiences, knowledge and energy to work.
“Because we don’t believe you can adequately think about what people worldwide actually need if you don’t have a diverse team providing insight from all perspectives, ensuring internal diversity is crucial for improving business performance, continued growth and success.”
As the world, and world of business, become increasingly connected and multi-cultural, Fujitsu believes diversity and inclusion to be key drivers where staff engagement and productivity are concerned. Beyond that, she added diversity and inclusion are also important for hiring, creativity and business growth.
Ultimately, diversity and inclusion continually being strengthened by Fujitsu will allow the organisation to enhance its competitiveness as digital develops and society becomes more diverse, Kaiser detailed.
“Not only does it improve our sales performance by enhancing agility, innovation, productivity, decision-making and customer relationships, it helps us live up to our commitment of fostering a responsible business,” she said.
“At Fujitsu we want to create an environment where diversity and inclusion becomes self-evident in all levels across the organisation, in all business activity, and in the way we collaborate with each other, customers and partners.
“From rewriting job adverts in a more inclusive language – which helps to attract the widest pool of candidates – to celebrating diverse and inclusive role models to delivering employee awareness and training sessions, there are so many ways that we deliver on this promise through our diversity and inclusion programmes.”
Diversity and inclusion isn’t just an add-on either – Kaiser insisted it’s always been a core value of the business, though it became a more ingrained part of the UK operation four years ago. For embracing diversity and inclusion within Fujitsu represents the many faces of its customers.
“In the UK and Ireland, we began to place more focus on our diversity and inclusion back in 2013, by developing our overall diversity strategy with the launch of our Employee D&I Networks. Since then we’re proud of the progress we’ve made and diversity continues to remain high on our business agenda,” Kaiser recalled.
Embodying a diverse workforce makes for a collaborative environment filled with different ideas and thinking methods, which allow staff to be themselves. Kaiser noted that this approach fosters an environment of trust and respect, which create innovation, retention and talent attraction.
Kaiser added: “It is only by engaging a diverse array of people in tech that we can hope to protect the future competitiveness of the UK economy. After all, when we get diversity and inclusion right, everyone – from individuals and teams to the broader business – benefits. And in a progressively diverse and digital world, diversity and inclusion-focused programmes are a no longer a nice to have, but a must have.”
It’s interesting to hear of Fujitsu possessing such a fierce culture of diversity, following on from Google falling foul of headlines recently after a staff memo leaked causing a gender row.
For any SMEs looking to adopt a diversity and inclusion culture like that found at Fujitsu, they must be clear with staff and explain what they want to achieve from it, according to Kaiser.
“You need to maintain a careful balance between what you are saying and what you are doing both inside your organisation and externally. Otherwise, you can risk losing trust and credibility which will set you back,” Kaiser said.
Key steps should be taken by companies when beginning on the diversity and inclusion path, added Kaiser, proceeding to offer examples.
The first used by Fujitsu is taking ownership and accepting accountability of programme progress with a Responsible Business Board, which tracks targets quarterly to keep the business on track.
Elsewhere, Fujitsu also introduced inclusion networks, such as the Shine, LGBT+ employee network, Culture Diversity network, Gender network and SEED (Support and Engage Employees with a Disability) network.
“All of these networks are designed to enhance the capacity of our employees to achieve their full potential and deliver what matters most to our customers,” Kaiser explained.
Insisting diversity and inclusion can benefit all businesses, including SMEs, she added: “From public to private and even the arts sector, I’ve worked for very different types and sizes of organisations. What I found was that all of them realised that strengthening diversity and inclusion helped them to improve performance on their main business objectives.
“This is because when you build a workforce that reflects the diversity of your customers, you are better placed to meet their needs.”
Fujitsu developed and continues to enhance its own vision and strategy by communicating with employees and diversity and inclusion networks to assess what is done well and where improvements can be made. Analytics play a key part in setting and assessing the targets.
“The strategy has brought focus and clarity, so we are all working towards the same goals and can make faster progress towards our priorities. For example, we have placed more focus on recruitment,” Kaiser said.
“And as a result, we have been able to increase diversity of new starters into our junior talent programmes – graduates and apprentices – in terms of disability, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.”
Closing on how SMEs can embrace diversity and inclusion, she said: “Before you implement any diversity and inclusion programmes, it’s important that you start off by taking a step back and looking at the evidence to really understand your position and what would make the most difference for you.
“Talk to your employees and look at any data you have about your diversity, so you can decide on where your priorities lie. Indeed, to truly become diverse and inclusive, you will need to bring these considerations into every part of your organisation.
“It will take some resources to make true progress – but it’s a return on your investment that you will see through the impact it has on your business.”