The Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress have launched a joint report promoting diversity in the workplace.

The CBI is the UK’s leading business organisation, speaking for 240,000 businesses.

The TUC is the voice of Britain at work. With member unions representing over six and a half million working people, it campaigns for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad.

The report, entitled, Talent not Tokenism, was launched by the director-general of the CBI, Richard Lambert; the general secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber;

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, and the Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman, were also at Tuesday’s event.

Talent not Tokenism encourages companies to employ people on the basis of their abilities and potential, regardless of their sex, race, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

The report shows that promoting diversity need not be complex or a legal minefield for business.

And it identifies some essential factors for bringing about change, including leadership from senior management and employee involvement, through unions and other workforce representatives.

It also has advice from senior executives of some leading companies such as Barclays, BT, and Shell.

“The need to unlock the talents of all – to create a truly representative workforce – is even more crucial at a time of economic uncertainty,” said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

“The issue is not whether business can afford to diversify, but whether it can afford not to.”

The report contains a number of case studies and examples of how various businesses have diversified their workforce and have benefited from it.

A case study by IBM cites evidence that its approach to lesbian and gay equality helps attract and retain customers.

Public service company Serco’s commitment to diversity has helped it win contracts, deliver better services to local communities and capture new custom.

You can read the report here.