NI employers encouraged to improve workplace inclusion

Over 150 business people from across Northern Ireland gathered at Girdwood Community Hub, Belfast on Thursday 15 March for the sixth annual Healthy Working Lives Conference to explore the issues and opportunities associated with diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Inclusive working environments are key to competitive advantage

The Business in the Community and Public Health Agency (PHA) conference, aimed to raise awareness of the inclusivity agenda within the workplace, with a focus on working families, health inequalities and disability, and LGBT employees.

Business in the Community’s Head of Workplace, Nicola Thompson, said: “An inclusive workplace is one where everyone feels valued, respected and supported. A truly inclusive workplace focusses on the needs of every individual, and ensures the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential.

“Diversity is about the mix of people within your organisation, but inclusion is about how well your mix of people work together. At today’s conference we challenged organisations to consider how inclusive their workplaces really are, and examine the benefits of a more inclusive workplace.”

Attracting delegates from across the public, private and voluntary sectors, the half-day event featured a range of speakers from local and national businesses as well as relevant charities and support agencies. The conference focussed specifically on key issues affecting NI employers such as working families, LGBT, and health inequalities and disabilities.

Valerie Watts, Interim Chief Executive of the PHA, said: “With 70% of the working-age population in Northern Ireland currently in employment*, the workplace is an ideal setting to share positive attitudes and behaviours, and affect cultural change. When employees feel valued this can have an important positive impact on health and wellbeing not just in the workplace but to the society as a whole.

“Employers can face challenges when trying to create inclusive workplaces, but there are significant benefits to workplaces in having a diverse workforce. It is important that employers consider how inclusive their organisations are, and how they can encourage inclusive working environments where all employees feel valued. The conference has provided the opportunity to learn from those who have taken positive steps to improve inclusion in the workplace and motivate others to do the same.”

If you would like to find out more about Inclusion at Work, please contact, or call (028) 9046 0606.