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68% of UK Companies Committed To Workplace Equality - But are Held Back by Reporting and Management Issues

Despite progressing towards better diversity policies and wanting unconscious bias removed from the recruitment process, massive room for improvement remains for UK management
Workplace Equality

Research published today ahead of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (May 21st) highlights a lack of focus on progressing diversity in the workplace. Findings from the European study by HR & payroll leader SD Worx has found that, while an encouraging 68% of UK companies are committed to removing unconscious bias from the recruitment process, many are still falling short in implementing a systematic reporting system that tracks against solid ED&I objectives.

    UK commitment to equality

    According to the SD Worx research, the UK ranks 3rd in its commitment to removing unconscious bias in the workplace (68%), behind Ireland which ranks in 1st place (74%) and Belgium in 2nd (69%). When it comes to equal access to training, the UK ranks slightly lower than other countries with an average of 64% of companies saying they invest in equal access to training and development opportunities. Ireland, Belgium, and Poland took the top spots (72%, 71% and 69% respectively).

    There is commonly more work to be done on transparency about ED&I goals and actions in pursuit of attracting a diverse workforce. While most UK companies also include this in their mission statement and corporate values (64%), it is slightly less likely to feature in recruitment activities, with only 3 in 5 (60%) UK companies surveyed saying they promote ED&I in job advertisements (58%), social media (52%) and their website (59%). 

    Commenting on the findings, Colette Philp, UK HR Country Lead at SD Work says: “It’s no longer enough for businesses to say they prioritise diversity and inclusion. Instead, they must prove their commitment to achieving a more diverse workforce, both internally within their business and externally to attract talent.

    “There is more awareness than ever before regarding diversity in the workplace and it’s a deciding factor for many when it comes to searching for a role or staying with a business. A diverse workforce brings new experiences and perspectives and an inclusive environment allows individuals to thrive. If businesses aren’t already putting ED&I as a top priority, it’s essential they act now to do so.”

      Education is key

      Managers are central to a business's day-to-day operations and educating them has a broader impact on ED&I. However, countries vary in their level of focus. In the UK, the research indicates that a rising number of companies are actively involving their managers in policies related to ED&I, with over half (60%) providing internal training on the topic. 

      Despite managers' efforts there is still a lack of clearly defined action in systematic follow-ups, such as a transparent reporting system. This applies, for example, to the evaluation of the commitment of managers to achieve the proposed diversity goals. Only 26% of UK companies surveyed scored that they 'very much' provide an evaluation of the commitment of managers to achieve ED&I related objectives. Almost a third (32%) said they have no system that offers individual employees the possibility to report discrimination. 

      This calls for a change from the top down. ED&I initiatives are only effective when efforts are made to roll them out properly and companies invest in a reporting system which allows them to keep their finger on the pulse afterwards.

      Jurgen Dejonghe, Portfolio Manager SD Worx Insights, adds: "It's important that companies start investing in an active reporting system about their actions concerning diversity, equality and inclusion. On the one hand, that data offers a strong basis for optimising the diversity policy with concrete and consciously controlled actions. On the other hand, such a system also provides clear evidence whether companies are effectively putting their money where their mouth is and not making false promises to (future) employees."

        About the research

        In the context of the War for Talent, iVox conducted a study for SD Worx into how European employees deal with diversity, equality and inclusion. The study focuses on being an attractive employer in the war for talent, looking at what employees look for in an employer, and what employers focus on to be an attractive employer. The research covered seven pieces of the puzzle that employers can work with: well-being and people-centric HR, flexible work organisation, motivating pay policies, inspiring and enabling culture, digital workplace, talent management in sustainable careers and recruitment.

        The survey was conducted in February and March 2022 in Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. A total of 4371 companies were surveyed. The sample is representative of the specific local labour markets and has the same composition according to the organisational size of the companies in the countries concerned.