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National Inclusion Week 2023: Taking action on inclusivity in our workplace

In the words of the US politician, Jesse Jackson: “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” At ODS, we are proud that diversity and inclusion underpins everything we do and why we do it. Inclusivity is at the heart of our business ethos and these concepts encompass our attitudes as individuals and as an organisation.

We are all different - in so many wonderful ways. ODS actively embraces those differences because they are what make us unique individuals. We encourage and enable our employees to bring their whole selves to work, there is no need to hide any part of who they are.

At ODS, we strongly believe that when people feel accepted, included, and valued, they are more engaged and deliver better outcomes. Not only is that best for the individual and their families, but it is best for the communities in Oxford that we work for.

“People will typically be more enthusiastic where they feel a sense of belonging and see themselves as part of a community than they will in a workplace in which each person is left to his own devices.” - Alfie Kohn, author

Investing in our current and future workforce is a key element of our business strategy. The majority of our workforce live in Oxford and we pay the Oxford Living Wage. We also run a number of initiatives, networks, and wellbeing projects to support our workforce to develop and grow in the business.  

In the last year, we took further strides to become a more inclusive and diverse employer by joining Inclusive Employers, the leading membership body that supports organisations with their diversity and inclusion responsibilities through sharing best practices. We also signed The Menopause Pledge and the Mental Health Charter to enable us to support our colleagues at each and every stage of their lives.  Most recently, ODS proudly achieved Disability Confident Leader status, making us only one of eight organisations in Oxfordshire to achieve this level.

ODS recently relaunched its Apprenticeship Programme to provide opportunities to communities in and around Oxford particularly young people from minority backgrounds. Our highly successful apprenticeship programme is a testament to our commitment to fostering talent. In the last year, we welcomed three new apprentices plus a former serviceman from the Royal Logistics Corps through our partnership with the Armed Forces Resettlement Partnership. We are also looking at ways to potentially work with ex-offenders from HMP Bullingdon in the future, helping them back into work and breaking down the stigma that has historically been a barrier to their reintegration into society and the workplace.

We have a strong track record of supporting women to thrive in trades that are traditionally male-dominated. We understand that women have unique talents and skills to help grow our business and introduce fresh, new ideas. And so, at ODS, we help women to break the mould through support and in-house mentoring where they can develop their careers and create a future of whatever they want it to be.

There is still plenty of work for us to do as an inclusive employer, but through the recognition that our workforce is our biggest asset, we will continue to #TakeActionMakeImpact and make ODS the workplace that we all deserve. Not just this week, but every single day of the year.