Richard and Clare Talbot-Jones explain how a focus on diversity and inclusion has benefited them and their family business
Managing Richard's long-term chronic pain condition -- after sustaining an injury while training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst -- was a major factor in us launching our own business in 2015. We noticed quickly the adaptations we had made through managing his disability had a hugely positive impact on our practices and have significantly influenced our company culture and brand.
Before launching our family business, our very polar dispositions and temperaments could sometimes result in frustration. However, as we watched each other perform our different work roles with success, we finally recognised the real value of our differences and the opportunities that our complementary skills offered to
Having recognised the real worth of diversity in our small business, we were keen to take the opportunity to complete the Equality Standard accreditation as we prepared to take on our first employee. As appointed representatives, the entry-level role we were preparing offered little in terms of career progression. We were keen, therefore, to take the opportunity to offer short, fixed-term contracts to people who were enthusiastic workers, but had struggled to find paid employment perhaps due to disability, long-term caring responsibilities or geographical displacement.
The Equality Standard helped us to embed sound diversity practices at the core of our business, meet legal requirements and reflect our values. It was also very helpful preparation for our Corporate Chartered status application.
Completing the standard was also an excellent opportunity to network with other organisations with similar values and ethos. We met St Camillus Care Group, a business that supports people with autism looking to enter employment, and worked together to offer one of their trainees experience in office administration. We offered work trials as a practical alternative to a traditional interview and were then pleased to offer paid employment to one of the applicants. Due to this process, we were awarded Disability Confident Committed status by the Department for Work and Pensions. Most importantly, we expanded our business to include a team member who might not excel at a one-off interview, but who offers a truly useful skillset and positive attitude.
As we near the end of this employee's fixed-term contract, we are pleased to see their improved confidence and developed skills -- and we are beginning to think about recruiting again. We have learned the real value of diversity, not just in creating a positive and welcoming culture, but also as a commercial asset, bringing new perspectives, ideas and expertise, as well as opening up new markets and building relationships with new communities. Our focus on diversity and inclusion has helped us develop a stronger team with a wide skillset, while increasing profitability and productivity.
We were proud that this year Clare, our business development director, was shortlisted as a Diversity Champion in the HSBC Forward Ladies northern region awards and the company was a finalist in the North East Equality Awards. This double recognition of our efforts reflects the hard work we have put in at Talbot Jones Risk Solutions, as well as the various voluntary roles we are involved in, reflecting our passion and interest for promoting diversity and inclusion. They are a great accreditation and an authentication to other organisations, giving a clear testimony of our values and convictions and the strength this focus has brought to our business.
Richard and Clare Talbot-Jones are co-founders of Talbot Jones Risk Solutions