EDI backlash and beyond

The backlash against equality, diversity and inclusion is ramping up as a general election approaches. How should employers respond?

Inclusion, diversity and equality concept. Letters on wooden cubes over pink background.

 

The pushback against equality, diversity and inclusion continues. The Government sets the tone and the media does the rest. Following minister for ‘common sense’ Esther McVey’s speech last week, the Express announced ‘Kemi Badenoch orders British firms to ‘end the woke madness”. McVey’s announcement about the civil service goes further than just banning EDI specialists within the service. Also targeted are third-party EDI specialists and employee network groups as well as 4-day week trials despite a lack of evidence that they have a detrimental impact.

The Government says managers will be responsible for ensuring teams are diverse and suggests that EDI specialists have a political agenda that runs counter to economic success. But if done correctly, EDI is all about driving economic success by ensuring no-one is excluded from reaching their potential.  EDI embraces a wide range of underrepresented groups, particularly at the top levels in the workplace, including women. Despite gender pay audits, which haven’t really evolved in the UK since they were introduced, despite data advances and individual employers using this to drill down more and despite some progress in the numbers through greater awareness of the barriers, things are not moving forward fast.

Managers are under a lot of different pressures. In an ideal world EDI should be core to how they work. The trouble is we are a long way from that being the case. Many managers don’t receive any training in how to manage effectively. When it comes to recruitment, for instance, to cast the net wide and reach underrepresented groups requires strategic thinking and outreach, working with organisations that understand the specific barriers different groups face. We know that there has been a mixed reaction to flexible working since Covid; we know that there have been some cuts to things like returner programmes which have helped women who have taken a career break, among many others get back to their careers; we know that childcare is on very rocky ground, with providers worried about the future.

That is not to say that there is not a lot of work that could be done to improve EDI, particularly in terms of avoiding tickbox training initiatives and focusing on what works and how EDI can help the economic development of businesses and society as a whole. The same goes for employee network groups which have evolved out of a need to listen to what employees on the shop floor think about the issues that affect them. There is still a huge need for efforts to embed EDI and for employee engagement.  As labour shortages continue, as we need older workers to work longer because there are not enough young people to pay for an ageing population, as we face a whole range of health and society-related problems after underinvestment in basic infrastructure, the business and common sense case is absolutely clear. EDI is relatively young. It needs reform with a focus on a strategic approach, but banning it is not going to mean the need for it goes away.



Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection

image

title

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now


You may be interested in these similar franchises