Concerning statistics reveal that over one-third of workplaces have neglected to promote or hire individuals due to their age, race, gender, or accessibility needs, fuelling discrimination in UK organisations.
Astonishingly, while 75% of the HR decision-makers surveyed said their organisations understand the value of DE&I, 37% admitted to overlooking candidates based on age, 30% on race, 31% on gender, and 33% on disability or accessibility needs.
The findings, uncovered by a recent survey conducted by employee experience platform Culture Amp and market research company Censuswide, shed light on the persistent discriminatory behaviours within companies across the country.
The research, which involved 5,011 full-time employees and 1,258 HR decision-makers, exposed a significant gap between companies’ professed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and their actual implementation of inclusive practices.
Comparatively, organisations in the US, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands demonstrated a lower level of discrimination, averaging 24% across these measures. The UK’s notably higher rates of discrimination raise concerns about the inclusivity landscape within the nation’s workforce.
The study also uncovered a discrepancy between companies’ stated commitment to being equal-opportunity employers and the experiences of individuals from marginalised groups. Although 68% of organisations in the UK claimed to promote themselves as equal opportunity employers in their job postings, the survey revealed that 30% of men, 23% of women, and 25% of non-binary individuals still face discrimination in the workplace.
In a striking revelation, nearly two-thirds (60%) of HR decision-makers suggested that marginalised groups should be more active in implementing DE&I programmes. However, the research found that only 24% of organisations had established a forum for marginalised individuals to share their backgrounds and contribute to shaping policies.
The report highlights several challenges hindering successful DE&I implementation, as identified by HR decision-makers. These include employees struggling to follow DE&I policies daily (47%), managers failing to act on DE&I plans (49%), and insufficient support from leadership teams (49%). Additionally, half of the HR decision-makers surveyed cited hybrid and remote work (52%) and the current economic climate (48%) as factors slowing down DE&I initiatives.
There is value in DE&I
Despite these challenges, the study emphasises the value of investing in DE&I efforts. It reveals that 77% of UK employees who believe their companies genuinely value diversity are more likely to recommend their organisations as great places to work.
Commenting on the research, Jessica Brannigan, lead people scientist at Culture Amp, expressed disappointment but noted that the findings were not entirely surprising. She urged organisations to align their key performance indicators, efforts, and resources to fulfil their well-intentioned commitments in DE&I.
The survey’s results serve as a wake-up call for UK companies, highlighting the urgent need to bridge the gap between their professed values and the experiences of employees from diverse backgrounds. It is crucial for organisations to re-evaluate their DE&I strategies, address the challenges identified, and take concrete steps toward fostering a truly inclusive and equitable work environment for all.