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Many believe equal opportunity will never happen in the workplace

Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion - Hays

Over half (51%) of professionals don’t believe people from all backgrounds will ever have opportunity to succeed within their organisation according to new research.*

The research, based on a survey of over 3,100 professionals and employers, found that close to a third (30%) believe there will be equal opportunity in five years or beyond, whilst only 19% believe this will happen in the next five years.

Despite continuing efforts towards raising awareness of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace, close to half (43%) of workers don’t believe those with differing ethnic backgrounds have equal opportunity to succeed within their organisation. This was followed by over a third (34%) who believe women don’t have equal opportunity within their organisation, with 32% saying the same about those over the age of 50 and 24% for those who have a disability.

Career progression and job opportunities remain unequal
61% of workers say their chances of being selected for a job had been limited because of a protected characteristic. Over half (56%) felt their age led to their chances of securing a job being lowered, followed by 42% who felt their ethnicity/nationality was a factor, and 33% who felt their gender reduced their chances of being selected for a job.

Similarly, close to two-thirds (64%) of professionals say there have been occasions where they have felt their chances for career progression had been limited because of a protected characteristic.

How can employers improve equal access to opportunities?
According to the research, close to half (48%) of professionals would like to see their organisation implement more training for managers to improve ED&I, whilst 42% would like to see more training for all staff members.

Over a third (38%) of workers would like to see employers review their recruitment policies, whilst 30% would like their organisation to introduce internal ED&I ambassadors.

Close to half (46%) of professionals feel confident that their organisation can translate ED&I policies into meaningful change going forward.

Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Hays, comments: “It’s disheartening in 2021 to see that professionals are not confident that there will ever be equal opportunity for everyone to succeed in their place of work. This is evident by the high percentage of professionals who said they felt their career progression and job opportunities have been limited due to a protected characteristic such as ethnicity/nationality, age and gender.

It’s time for employers to not only increase the talk on equity, diversity, and inclusion, but to also step up their action. Introducing training for managers and employees alike was highly rated in our research to provide an understanding of bias as a start in breaking down barriers that may come into play in the workplace and in the recruitment process.

Communication is also key as staff are the ones seeing its effects day-to-day so also need to be aware of what action the company is taking and how they could get involved. Staff feedback is invaluable, and employers need to open up communication across their teams for open and frank discussions about diversity and inclusion, while professionals need to get involved with the efforts being made to improve it.”

*Research from Hays

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