Diversity and inclusion (“D&I”) in the workplace is a prominent issue brought into sharp focus during the pandemic and intensified in the wake of the recent racially motivated crimes in the US and other parts of the world. However, new findings from the Trends Report* 2021/22 says that 58% of UK senior employees believe the main focus of their organisation to be business growth and development, not D&I.
Disappointingly for many, the findings from the report showed that less than half (40%) of respondents believed that improving D&I is a business priority over the next 12 months.
Generation Z focusing on D&I
The report, which surveyed more than 1,000 senior decision makers from companies across the UK, highlights a disconnect between generations within organisations, as only a third (33%) of 18–24-year-olds believed that the leadership of their organisation is prioritising inclusion and diversity at all levels.
The research findings also indicated that younger employees are much more likely to be aware of the steps being taken to address diversity and inclusion within the Organisation. In fact, 61% of respondents surveyed in the 18-24 age bracket, and 63% of 25–34-year-olds say they know their company publishes a diversity pay gap report, while less than half (44%) of those over 45 did not know.
Unsurprisingly, the younger generations were also those who were most focused on other issues outside of D&I including ESG (44%), CSR (44%), and wellbeing (33%).
Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced, says: “Diversity and inclusion can no longer be ignored, and we must act now to ensure that these issues are addressed. Time and time again, we have seen that inclusive workplaces are better for people, and better for business. Those organisations that deprioritise their focus on D&I will suffer irreparably as they lose out on opportunities to attract the best talent, narrowing their perspective and missing the value of innovating through connected diverse groups of people, potentially hampering their post-COVID recovery.”
Covid has brought the issue front and centre
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most organisations immediately moved to hybrid working. This was highlighted by the findings which showed that 23% of those surveyed believe that hybrid working has helped raise the visibility of minority groups, and 1 in 4 (27%) say hybrid working has highlighted the need to cater to workers with disabilities.
Gordon concludes: “Like many businesses, Advanced is on a journey to gain more understanding about D&I so that we can continue to improve our approach. We have made significant progress but are continuing to seek out new ways to create a more diverse workforce. To achieve diverse, thriving, and successful workplaces, businesses need to fully commit to implementing processes and policies that create an equitable and inclusive landscape. It is incumbent on us all to continue to push forward and create lasting change.”
Commenting on the figures, CBI President Lord Bilimoria said: “Let us be absolutely clear – more representative workplaces and boardrooms aren’t just the right thing to do, it is also about improving business performance. More and more businesses are taking this very seriously, as can be seen from increasing involvement in Change the Race Ratio, launched by the CBI in October 2020 to increase racial and ethnic participation in all organisations.
“Against the backdrop of labour shortages, it’s incumbent on all firms to step up investment in training to meet the UK’s £13 billion a year reskilling deficit.
“And accelerating efforts to draw on talent from across the whole of society through diversity & inclusion strategies to attract, retain and develop all under-represented groups in the labour market must become a top priority.”