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Has diversity and inclusion fallen off the radar?

By Yvonne Smyth, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Hays

The last few months have been tumultuous, the world cast into chaos by coronavirus, nations locked down and reopened, but another defining feature of the year so far has been the continued rise of progressive movements like Black Lives Matter.

The outpouring of public support for these movements was quickly adopted by a number organisations, with many rapidly taking to social media to pledge their support and promote their dedication to diversity. However, amidst the challenges of the global pandemic, have organisations been making real progress towards diversity, equality and inclusion off the back of movements like Black Lives Matter?

A mismatch in opinion

In our Diversity & Inclusion: A Sentiment Snapshot, we asked over 13,000 professionals and employers what they thought about their organisation’s changing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion during the pandemic. What we found was a split of opinion.

Positively, a proportion of both employers and employees had noticed more of a focus on improving diversity recently. 37% of employers said their organisation’s focus on diversity and inclusion had increased in the last three months. However, only around a quarter (26%) of professionals said the same, marking a mismatch of opinions between the two groups.

Similar gaps emerged when asked whether the importance of diversity and inclusion within their organisation had changed as a direct result of movements like Black Lives Matter. A third (33%) of employers inferred that it had grown in importance, while only 26% of employers shared that opinion. The most striking statistic to come out of this line of questioning, however, was that the majority of both groups, employer and employee, noted no change in importance at all.  

What does this mean?

The difference in opinion between the two groups suggests that the more holistic, strategic view held by employers may help them to recognise the long term changes that are being made to encourage diversity, while the boots-on-the-ground view of professionals suggests that they are not necessarily fully aware of any changes being made.

To rectify this, communication is key. Professionals may not always be privy to the strategic decisions affecting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but they are the ones seeing its effects day by day. Their feedback is invaluable and is a good metric for employers to see if their commitment to D&I is having a real impact. Employers need to open up communication across their teams for open and frank discussions about diversity and inclusion, while professionals need to get involved with the efforts being made to improve it. 

In today’s unprecedented environment, with so many other challenges to overcome, diversity and inclusion cannot be left by the wayside, and only by working together as one unit can employers and employees seek to improve it at their organisations.

For more insights into the effect of the Black Lives Matter movement and other efforts to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in the working world and beyond, download our D&I sentiment snapshot.

About this author

Yvonne is Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Hays, working with our clients to ensure their recruitment strategies are aligned with the latest equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) policies and initiatives. She is responsible for creating and implementing diverse recruitment strategies that effectively support the representation of more diverse staff profiles within their business.

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