ED&I (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) is a critical aspect of fostering a positive and thriving workplace environment. Equity ensures fairness and justice by addressing systemic biases and providing equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their background. Diversity recognises and values the differences among individuals, including but not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, age, and disabilities. Inclusion creates a sense of belonging and actively encourages the participation and contribution of diverse perspectives.
However, with recent studies and findings highlighting an on-going concern with ED&I, we wanted to explore why some organisations are still struggling to push diversity and inclusion to the top of their business agendas.
Jessica Brannigan, Lead People Scientist from Culture Amp, has spoken about their findings from recent research they have carried out in partnership with Censuswide. A global study from March 2023 which included 5,000 employees and 1,250 HR decision makers showed from both employee and HR perspectives, that there is a clear misalignment of intentions about what an organisation says they are doing, and what is actually being resourced and managed.
Research shows globally, but within the UK in particular, worrying levels of discrimination. 38% of UK HR respondents reported dealing with gender complaints compared to 28% globally, and 37% with race compared to 27% globally. It could be argued this disparity to some extent could be because of increased levels of focus and monitoring in UK organisations compared to globally, although there is clearly lots more work to be done.
The research found 1 in 3 organisations don’t have EDI monitoring in place, with no current plans to implement one. It did show larger organisations were more likely to have monitoring in place, with 65% having existing tools in place. Barriers to implementing EDI strategies included budget constraints, with a surprising 44% of HR decision makers citing that budget constraints had actively deprioritised their EDI strategy. There were also concerns of there still being an uphill battle to ‘prove’ the value of such strategies, with 63% saying although they felt their company understood the value of it, this did not extend to appropriate investments being made at a senior level.
These findings are echoed by Theresa Mayne, an HR Consultant and CIPD tutor who has been reflecting on the EDI training sessions she has been delivering. In a recent article published by People Management magazine, Theresa notes that she has been discussing equality, diversion and inclusion since she became a CIPD tutor in 2016, but has noticed that many HR functions continue to struggle with raising the profile of EDI as a priority.
From speaking with her learners, many felt that when it came to their organisations, although ‘the knowledge and belief is there, it simply is not a priority for them to make changes when they are fighting other fires that are considered to be more urgent.’ Most learners agreed that their business performs well in terms of anti-discrimination practices, but there was a mixed response when asked what is doing being to promote EDI in their workplace.
From the employees perspective, the recent findings from Culture Amp also found that 36% of employees didn’t feel that their organisation valued diversity, 43% didn’t believe that their leadership teams understood the real importance of EDI, and 37% felt that their company wasn’t properly investing in building diversity.
Figures show that marginalised groups are still very much underrepresented at Executive levels. HR respondents identified that only 31% of executive leadership positions are held by women, 25% by racial minorities, 21% by those with disabilities and 20% by those within the LGBTQ+ community. There were also concerns raised regarding the hiring decision processes, with 1 in 3 witnessing a decision not to hire someone based upon their gender, age, race or disability.
So what can organisations do to improve EDI in the workplace? Theresa Mayne feels that improved education and training of the senior executive team is key. She states that ‘It has been shown that when business leaders learn the benefits of EDI and see that business results are significantly improved when attitudes change and people with all backgrounds are valued equally, it then becomes a strategic priority to not only recruit people with a wide range of backgrounds, but also to make sure that, once appointed, they are involved in all aspects of business without exception.’
Jessica Brannigan feels that organisations need to consider what diversity means to them, and set ‘quantifiable goals’ to ensure progress is made. These goals need to be public, providing regular updates internally and externally so that promises and goals are not forgotten.
Research consistently shows that organisations that have a learning culture and are open minded are more likely to be inclusive. Therefore, efforts need to be focussed on improving understanding of EDI and it’s benefits at the senior executive level, so that a culture change can be driven from the top down.Back to the lastest news