Only 54% of professional feel that discussing their DE&I concerns with their manager will lead to meaningful change

  • Just over half of the people managers surveyed say they feel comfortable engaging in conversations around DE&I that they have little knowledge of 
  • The main reason managers feel uncomfortable discussing aspects of DE&I they have a limited knowledge of is due to a fear of making a mistake or imparting incorrect information
  • Only 54% of professionals are confident that any concerns they have around DE&I will be listened to and will lead to change

A lack of knowledge is creating caution when it comes to DE&I discussion in the workplace, according to recent research conducted by Hays

New research, released as part of Hays’ annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report, based on a survey of over 5,300 respondents, reveals that over half (54%) of the people managers surveyed say they feel comfortable engaging in conversations around DE&I that they have limited knowledge of, but certain factors like fear of making a mistake or causing offence are holding some managers back. 


Caution when it comes to DE&I discussion

According to the research, more than half (60%) of the managers surveyed say they feel more comfortable discussing certain areas of DE&I than others: age being the most comfortable and sexual orientation being the least. 

Just over half (54%) of people managers agree that they feel comfortable engaging in conversations around DE&I that they have little knowledge of. 

However, a fifth (20%) of people managers feel uncomfortable talking about aspects of DE&I that they have little knowledge of, and there are a number of reasons for this. 

The main factors preventing some managers from having comfortable discussions include concerns about making a mistake or imparting incorrect information (43%) and a fear of giving offence to someone (33%). 


Doubts over whether conversation will drive change

Whilst over two thirds (69%) of professionals feel comfortable raising any concerns they have around DE&I to their managers, only 54% are confident that their concerns will be listened to by their managers and that meaningful action will be taken. 

Certain groups of people have less confidence that conversation will lead to tangible action, namely those from a global ethnic majority background (50%) and those living with a disability (45%). 

Just over half (52%) of people managers say they thought their organisation was proactively taking action to recruit under-represented talent and less than half (42%) of professionals think positive action is being taken by their employer to improve career outcomes for under-represented talent. 

Dan Robertson, MD of Vercida Consulting and Global Head of DE&I Advisory Services at Hays, comments: “Being able to have open conversations about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace is an essential first step to making progress. 

However, backing away from conversations will only facilitate existing biases within organisational thinking and decision-making across the employee life-cycle. To address this, organisations should invest in education programmes that focus on building psychological safety between managers and employees. HR and learning and development teams have a critical role to play in building internal social bonds between managers and employees. 

It is only through on-going and focused activity that we are likely to address the issues raised and lay the groundwork for real and lasting change.”

About the research: The findings are based on a survey carried out between 17th July–7th August 2023, with responses from over 5,350 employers and employees across the UK from a range of key demographics, industries and sectors. 



Chloe May
PR Executive


About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world’s leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK, Germany and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2022, the Group employed over 13,000 staff operating from 255 offices in 33 countries. For the year ended 30 June 2022:

  • the Group reported net fees of £1,189.4 million and operating profit of £210.1 million;
  • the Group placed around 83,750 candidates into permanent jobs and around 250,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 16% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 36% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 55% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 45% of net fees;
  • Technology is the Group’s largest division, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (11%), are the next largest
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the USA
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