Casting the net wide: Why diversity in the workplace is more than just demographics featured image
Dec 11, 2020

Casting the net wide: Why diversity in the workplace is more than just demographics

As I write this, we’re still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and, in every aspect of our lives, there is a need to adapt and get on with things as best we can. Be that as it may, there will come a point when this thing is behind us. So, if you are a large format print provider or sign business adjusting to life and work in the now, this could also a good time to be thinking about – and planning for – the future.

Although I would emphasize that it is perhaps, for most businesses, a more realistic consideration for the future, recruitment may well be part of your plans. Maybe you’ve been forced to hit the pause button on the idea, or perhaps, conversely, it might be something in which you’re actively engaged. Either way, recruiting sensibly and strategically is critical to ensuring your company has, and attracts, versatile personnel, with the all-round skills set, to get you back on track and drive future prosperity. Indeed, research by Gartner found that, in a diverse workforce, performance improves by 12%, and intent to stay by 20%, while team collaboration and commitment improve by approximately 50%. Basically, working in an organization environment where divergent perspectives are valued makes employees want to work harder, stay longer, and be stronger team players.

From our own perspective, we endeavor to cast the net wide and build diverse and dynamic teams comprising individuals whose varied background, experience and outlook – as well their age, ethnicity and gender – offer a genuine mix to help increase creativity and performance, and strengthen our competitive edge. I’m pleased to say that in SAi’s US office alone, four of seven positions at the director level or above are held by women. Diversity in the workplace isn’t just about mere demographics or subscribing to the topic of the moment, and companies shouldn’t just embrace it purely for the sake of it.

It’s great to see our own industry increasingly championing this mindset via various platforms and also, actively taking steps to encourage people from different walks of life to consider print as a career option. Initiatives such as the ‘Young Guns’ sessions within the FuturePrint event seek to engage the younger generation pondering their first career move.

Meanwhile, October’s Girls Who Print day, of which SAi is a proud sponsor, provides an annual platform for conversations and education that foster career and business success from current, and future female leaders in our industry. It’s also worth mentioning that, quite rightly, this event isn’t exclusive to us women – men are encouraged to attend and be part of the conversation too! In the same vein, Women in Signs and Graphics is a UK-based initiative that aims to inspire, encourage and promote women in the industry. Set to mark its official launch on December 3rd, their kick-off event will include inspirational female and male speakers offering their perspectives on working towards a more gender-balanced industry, with a particular focus on apprenticeships, education, and helping the next generation kickstart their careers.

Events and projects like these are crucial to ensuring that, whoever you are, if you are a talented and driven individual, a role in our industry is an attainable, interesting, and exciting prospect.

Right now, as we continue to grapple with COVID-19, many of our customers are telling us that they’re now having to make up for lost time and revenue as a result of restrictions imposed early on in the pandemic. With that I mind, what business wouldn’t want to equip itself with the sort of workforce whose varied dynamic and make-up could support that goal to not only help with the necessary catching up but also provide the platform on which to take the business forward.

It is often said and widely acknowledged that employees are the heartbeat of any company. So, whether it’s in the midst of a pandemic or during better times, ensuring you have the right mix of individuals creating a diverse and rich lifeblood that pumps through your entire business can only seek to support its good and continued health.

Michelle Johnson, Director of Worldwide Marketing at SAi can be reached at