A blueprint targeted at employers to promote social inclusion, reduce inequality and combat poverty was launched in Dublin today.

“The Inclusive Employer” is the work of senior management brought together by the business network, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), and is aimed at implementing change in business at leadership and operational level to tackle social exclusion.

“The Inclusive Employer” blueprint is a practical guide to create inclusive workplaces – and reduce social inequality in Ireland – and is designed as a best practice tool for employers. It is targeted at securing, developing and nurturing talent.

Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) works as strategic advisors with some of Ireland’s largest businesses to assist them achieve their corporate social responsibility and sustainability ambitions.

This blueprint has emerged from BITCI’s Leaders’ Group on Sustainability, a business coalition dedicated to addressing the most pressing sustainability priorities as well as future opportunities for a competitive and inclusive Ireland. The group is represented by CEOs of Ireland’s leading companies from sectors including energy, telecoms, technology, finance, transport, retail, food and pharma and they work collaboratively to address social, environmental and economic priorities.

BITCI Chief Executive Tomás Sercovich said the blueprint provided a clear pathway for human resources departments, strategic planners, recruitment experts and talent retention specialists to finally eradicate inherited disadvantage which often runs through families and communities.

He said: “Employment offers the single biggest opportunity for vulnerable individuals to move out of a cycle of poverty and become active participants in society.  In a report published by the ESRI in 2018, five groups were identified as facing the greatest barriers to employment and as most vulnerable to social exclusion.  These groups include: jobless households, lone parents, homeless or affected by housing exclusion, those with disabilities and ethnic minorities.

“This blueprint spells out what practical steps employers can take to reach into these families and communities and help transform their lives. This is a clarion call for some employers who up to now have not fully realised the benefits of inclusive recruitment but it also provides step by step guides to business and industry who understand the long term value of being inclusive employers but who have never had the tools to implement real change,” the CEO said.

“At a time of almost full employment, talent retention and creative recruitment that nurtures business values and adds impact and dynamic to the workplace has never been so important,” he added.

Some actionable ideas from the blueprint include:

  • Set hiring targets for those vulnerable to social exclusion and be ambitious
  • Rewrite job descriptions to be more inclusive
  • Train all staff on unconscious bias
  • Ask your supply chain about their diversity and inclusion and reward suppliers who demonstrate a commitment
  • Engage with outreach programmes targeted at education and employment like Business in the Community Ireland’s range of initiatives in this area

This is the second initiative by BITCI under its Leaders’ Group on Sustainability. Last year, the Group launched the Low Carbon Pledge aimed at encouraging businesses in Ireland to transition to a low carbon economy. The Pledge has now been signed by 47 companies.

Ken Scully, Country Manager M&S Ireland and Sinead Patton, Chief Finance & Commercial Officer, Veolia were co-chairs of the sub group who worked on this blueprint and they commented.

Sinead Patton said: “As environmental services experts, at Veolia our people’s expertise is our product. Our organisation performs better for our customers when that expertise is from a diverse group.”

“The Leaders Group recognises that businesses can make a unique impact on employability for marginalised groups outside of the education, training and employment cycle. That is why we focused on the inclusive employer concept. I would urge all businesses to download the Inclusive Employer Blueprint and take their next steps towards better inclusivity and diversity.”

M&S introduced its flagship employability programme, Marks & Start, in 2004 to help people who face barriers getting into work to gain skills and experience through work placements.  M&S works with Business in the Community Ireland’s employment programmes to identify participants, who are offered a two or four-week placement in an M&S store where they gain key skills and a real insight into retail.

M&S Ireland Country Manager Ken Scully said, “At M&S, we are committed to providing our employees with a safe and healthy working environment and building a culture which promotes diversity, inclusion and personal development.  We know it’s our people who make M&S successful and that having a diverse workforce is better for business.  We work hard to promote an environment where everyone can achieve their full potential.

“Since introducing our Marks & Start programme in Ireland over 15 years ago, we have supported over 250 single parents, people with disabilities or health conditions, those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and disadvantaged young people.  It has helped change many of their lives and given them the confidence to get back into work, while enabling us to unlock the potential of our own people by developing their team building and interpersonal skills.”

“The Inclusive Employer” blueprint is available to download free from

Isabelle Popovici with Sinead Patton, Chief Finance & Commercial Officer, Veolia with Ken Scully, Country Manager M&S Ireland who both co-chaired the working group. Picture Jason Clarke

Isabelle Popovici with Sinead Patton, Chief Finance & Commercial Officer, Veolia who co-chaired the working group. Picture Jason Clarke


Share This