Hidden in plain sight: workforce diversity
By Anthony Thorpe, Senior Lecturer, University of Roehampton, London, UK.
The educational systems of many European countries seek to meet the learning, mental and physical special needs of children at school. It is a burgeoning area of education provision and a specialist area in many teacher development programmes.
This concern for students’ special needs has flowed through to post-16 education, including my own university. However, these concerns appear to cease, or dissipate, when students move into employment. Young people leaving schools and colleges don’t change overnight. Instead, they are often hidden in plain sight within the workforce.
At the same time, organizations are encouraged to see diversity in their workforce as an asset bringing benefits such as increased motivation and innovation that foster efficiency and give a competitive advantage (European Commission, 2003; OECD, 2009). Democratic arguments are made for the composition of the teaching workforce to reflect the diversity of the society it serves (European Commission, 2007)
Yet diversity and inclusion in the teaching workforce is a particularly sensitive area. Some teachers are fearful of disclosing a disability and employers are concerned about making reasonable adjustments. There is an irony in the education sector being so focused on meeting the needs of students, yet often appearing to ignore the needs of adults in its own workforce (Thorpe & Burns, 2016).
Cloud 8 ‘Diversity & Equality in Different Contexts’ aims to promote discussion through the sharing of research findings, progress with on-going projects and good practice. There will be a Cloud 8 seminar/webinar event on 21st May 2018 focusing on the topic of ‘Diversity at work’.