A Lancashire university leader has said a diverse workforce can deliver huge benefits for businesses.

Lynne Livesey, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), believes that significant benefits to businesses’ innovation, profitability and productivity, rather than adhering to mandatory targets, should be driving firms to employ people from different backgrounds.

She has previously worked with senior members of the Chinese Government to discuss reforms relating to equality and diversity in the country’s education system.

UCLan is sponsoring the Business Woman of the Year category at one of Lancashire’s leading business awards, the Be Inspired Business Awards, which holds its ceremony in front of a sell-out audience later this year.

Lynne Livesey said: “The need to increase the diversity of backgrounds of our workforce, including women, has proven benefits for businesses far beyond simply meeting targets.

“If we have a group of people who are largely the same working to solve a problem, the likelihood is they will come out with the same answer or stagnating ‘group think’; whereas those from different backgrounds bring their experiences and ideas to constructively challenge the traditional answers, producing innovative, forward thinking and creative solutions.

“This diversity of thought has been recognised across businesses large, medium-sized and small as an engine for growth and innovation.

“It is for this reason and many more that I am passionate about increasing equality and why I am delighted UCLan is once again supporting the Business Woman of the Year category at the BIBAs.”

Among the nominations for the Business Woman of the Year prize are Hannah Warren of Preston-based Oxygen Personnel, Helen Harker of workwear manufacturer Simon Jersey of Accrington, and Rose Watkins of Leyland’s Centaur Training.

The awards have completed two rounds of judging to select the winners of its 18 prize categories which will be announced at a ceremony held at the Blackpool Tower next Friday, September 11.

A lifetime achievement award, Lancastrian of the Year, will also be handed out on the night, selected by a panel of the prize’s former winners.