Majority of UK businesses paying “lip service” to workplace D&I

UK firms are lagging behind their global counterparts when it comes to meaningful D&I

A new report by workforce solutions provider KellyOCG has revealed that many UK businesses pay lip service to workplace diversity and inclusion.

Their new “2021 Global Workforce Agility Report” revealed that 51% of UK executives said their organisations “aren’t doing enough to create an inclusive culture for underrepresented groups”, while 61% said their business “could have done more to support talent from underrepresented groups during the pandemic.”

Furthermore, over half of UK senior business leaders surveyed (52%) said their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy only “pays lip service to supporting talent from underrepresented groups and doesn’t provide any helpful support in practice.”

While 66% of UK firms said, they have programmes that “support progression and development of underrepresented groups once they are in the job “, this is well below the global average of 74%.

In addition to this, only 44% of UK businesses are “tracking or reporting on the success of programmes that remove barriers preventing underrepresented groups from accessing the work in the first place”, which is the lowest out of all major countries surveyed.

In terms of diversity and inclusion training, the UK is also falling behind its global counterparts, where 62% of organisations in the UK said they provide employee training on how to identify and report non-inclusive and discriminatory behaviours versus 73% globally.

Despite these concerning findings among UK firms, the report also uncovered some that have seen the business benefits of implementing effective diversity and inclusion, such as increased employee motivation, innovation, and employee loyalty and satisfaction. These “Vanguard” companies have shared approaches to diversity and inclusion, including:

  • Programmes to attract and support the career progression of women and candidates from underrepresented groups
  • DEI training and incentives for leaders
  • Clear channels to report discrimination
  • Measurable goals and objectives to track DEI outcomes
  • Transparent processes for reporting on the impact of the strategy against DEI goals and objectives
  • Fully developed DEI strategies in place for both permanent and contingent talent

Sam Smith, Vice President and Managing Director, Kelly OCG EMEA, commented: “Whilst huge progress has been made on the DEI agenda in boardrooms around the country in recent years, it is clear that many business leaders are still nervous about how their efforts to develop diverse and inclusive workforces are translating to actual change. The reality is that these failings negatively impact employee productivity, engagement, and retention.

“The positive news is that even those businesses that are falling short are recognising it. Once the need for change has been accepted, there is now a clear pathway to addressing these issues, offering a chance for the UK to get back on a level footing.

“The global data uncovered an elite group of organisations – which we call the ‘Vanguards’ – which have seen employee wellbeing and productivity improve, even during the pandemic. All these organisations consider a well-planned DEI strategy that is implemented fully across their workforce and measured against its objectives to be a priority. It is now time for that prioritisation to extend into all businesses in the UK.”
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