‘Diversity needs to be more than a tick box policy’

Organisations run the risk of hampering their own growth if they adopt diversity and inclusion policies but fail to embed them, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and talent solutions company Bernard Hodes.

It calls on firms to positively and consistently promote the business case for more diverse teams to frontline managers.

The research, Diversity & Inclusion – Fringe or Fundamental?, finds that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is increasingly fundamental, rather than a fringe issue: 83% of organisations have strategies and policies in place and 57% expect D&I to become more important in the next five years. However, it says too many organisations are still not looking beyond their legal requirements and too few have a truly embedded approach to D&I that is integral to their talent management strategies, for instance, including it in training for line managers or measuring its effectiveness.


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Helen Rosethorn, CEO of Bernard Hodes, says: “There is good news and not such good news in the report findings. Clearly D&I is being considered at a more strategic level than ever before – but it is not translating effectively enough into building more inclusive workplaces and people practice.”

Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the CIPD, says: “The overall message from the discussions was simple – a more diverse workforce is one that delivers superior business performance. This isn’t about ticking boxes or chasing fads, it’s about assembling the best teams, that are effective, innovative, creative and can deliver growth. While understanding about the business case for diversity and inclusion has grown, UK businesses cannot afford to rest of their laurels.

“Despite all the great progress that’s been made, there is still more to be done to really land the message with top teams and frontline managers that they should embrace diversity and inclusion because it helps them to achieve critical business objectives better than if they are allowed to keep subconsciously recruiting teams dominated by ‘people like us’.”

Overall, the survey of more than 350 organisations confirmed that D&I is considered a fundamental issue, but revealed a number of limitations to the extent to which it is embedded within organisations:

– The link between diversity and talent management is too loose in many organisations (less than half of organisations’ D&I approaches cover talent management)

– Less than half of those organised surveys address D&I in their reward or internal communications strategies

– Less than half include D&I in line manager training

– Despite a focus on meeting regulatory requirements, certain areas of compliance are still not being addressed by some organisations

– There are weaknesses when it comes to demonstrating impact (only 40% use specific key performance indicators, and the majority of these focused on demographic data and employee survey results).

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