The Workplace Health Insights series brings you the latest healthcare trends, interviews with medical experts and specialist insight from Bupa: all designed to keep you and your organisation one step ahead.
For the latest insights on supporting health in the workplace, take a look here.
The business benefits of diversity are well documented and more importantly, as Dr Caroline Williams, Director of Open Programmes at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School emphasises, a diverse workplace is a future-proofed workplace.
“When we talk about diversity, the picture is greater than ‘just’ gender and ethnicity,” she says.
“Socioeconomic, disability and neuro-variance inclusion also add crucial dimensions to business performance.”
With data from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) showing 47% of employers are now struggling to fill vacancies, seeking out and supporting a diverse workforce will become increasingly important in the challenge to recruit and retain talent.
Building a more diverse workforce also brings specific challenges. For example, how best to support the health and wellbeing needs of individual team members.
It also shines a spotlight on the impact of existing inequalities. The burden of many diseases and health issues is not borne equally.
Women are at greater risk of developing auto-immune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
And while they have a lower risk of heart disease than men, if they do have a heart attack the odds of it being misdiagnosed are 50% higher.
Ethnicity also influences our health. White Britons have the highest overall risk of developing cancer but the risks around specific cancers vary.
People of Asian ethnicity have the greatest risk of thyroid cancers. Asian men are at increased risk of Hodgkin lymphoma and Black men are at the most risk of prostate cancer.
People with South Asian or African Caribbean background have twice the risk of developing type-2 diabetes before the age of 80 than White Europeans.
A study based on more than a million UK patient records shows that South Asians are at greater risk of having a heart attack (67%) or stroke (29%). For Black people, the increased risk is 51% and 24% respectively.
Even Covid-19 discriminates against some groups. Data shows that Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are at significantly higher risk of serious infection and death from Covid-19 than other ethnic groups.
Research suggests a number of factors are involved. These include social inequality, genetics and lifestyle behaviours. And this is true of almost all disease.
Ethnicity also impacts mental health. There’s evidence that Black men are at higher risk of psychotic disorders. And older South Asian women are an at-risk group for suicide.
There are also significant differences around interventions and treatment.
Employers who are truly inclusive will not only build stronger teams, they will be in a much better position to attract new talent. This includes identifying the health needs facing their team and signposting to tailored support.
HR and wellbeing teams need to make sure their organisation’s health and wellbeing offerings match their team’s needs.
Amanda Stone, People Director at Bupa Global and UK Insurance, says: “It’s important to park any preconceived ideas that we all have broadly similar health and wellbeing challenges — one-size fits all just isn’t the case, so we must really take the time to analyse and understand the data we have on our people.”
To support line managers who are tasked with meeting these challenges, Bupa has developed a series of in-depth guides which can be found here. These can empower key team members and provide the resources they need to build healthier, happier, teams.
These include guides which address specific issues, such as mental health conditions or neurodiversity.
This article has been abbreviated by Health & Protection. The full article can be found as part of the Workplace Health Insights series from Bupa, take a look here.