From navigating furlough to adjusting to mass remote working, the pandemic has impacted some of the core functions of the HR profession. There is no denying that there will be further changes and challenges ahead, but months on from when lockdown first commenced in March, we are able to get some sense of just how much the HR has changed as a result of Covid-19.
According to research conducted for the Hays Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report – based on a survey of over 10,000 professionals – one of the biggest changes caused by the pandemic has been to the ED&I agendas of organisations. In this blog, I’ll look at why it’s important for organisations to prioritise ED&I, the impact that flexible and remote working has had and give some actionable tips for HR professionals to keep ED&I progress on track.
Why does ED&I still need to be a priority?
Most employers have long-since woken up to the reality that a more equal, diverse and inclusive workplace offers many advantages for their organisation, from greater innovation to improved productivity and more. Our report also highlights the importance that professionals themselves place on ED&I.
We found that for four in five (81%) HR professionals, an organisation’s ED&I policies are important when looking for a new role. Furthermore, close to two thirds (61%) said they would only apply to an organisation which has a public commitment to ED&I. It’s clear therefore that from an organisational perspective, ED&I needs to remain a priority - particularly when it comes to attracting new talent.
Greater flexibility comes with ups and downs
Whilst some HR professionals may already have been working flexibly, but the rapid uptake of these working practices by so many professionals when lockdown commenced was unforeseen. Currently, over three quarters (77%) of those working in HR are currently in a flexible working arrangement and 81% say that this flexibility is important to them.
Encouragingly, 84% believe that Covid-19 has meant that going forward, employees will have more opportunities to work flexibly – which has the potential to positively shape ED&I across organisations. However, respondents also noted that working flexible can bring some drawback – such as feelings of isolation and blurred boundaries between their work and home lives. Furthermore, over a third (35%) believe that working flexibly has the potential to limit their career progression.
What employers need to do
It’s crucial that decision makers in the HR profession continue to strive for better when it comes to ED&I, even as organisations continue to focus their primary efforts on handling the economic challenges caused by the pandemic. If you are a senior professional or employer, here are our recommendations for keeping your ED&I agenda on track.
How employees can take responsibility
For ED&I to really press ahead, employees also need to recognise the responsibility they have. Here are some things to think about:
Efforts from both employers and employees in HR are crucial to ensuring that the profession continues to do better where ED&I is concerned, especially during uncertain and testing times which many organisations are facing.
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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In our latest Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Report, we explore whether flexible working can help create more diverse workforces and more inclusive workplaces.
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