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The survey of over 200 executives, directors, senior management and management revealed that only 12% of respondents strongly agreed that D&I is a top priority in their company, with just 19% strongly agreeing that it was embedded in the company culture.
HR leaders told us that the focus on the bottom line has made people more cost-conscious. They are concerned that managers who have prejudices will not be challenged on their decision making. Board members, and senior managers have to ensure that equality and diversity is seen as one of the basics, rather than just paying lip service to it.
“The current economic crisis means that those in authority are more interested in ‘bringing in and bringing on’ individuals who are like them,” one respondent stated.
The survey highlighted how D&I is part of the recruitment policy in over 95% of companies, yet only 30% of companies used D&I as part of their key performance indicators. Over 80% of respondents believed that equality was unfinished business within their organisation.
All too often, D&I is about endless initiatives, without any focus on why organisations are doing it. D&I should not be sacrificed for the sake of balancing budgets: if it’s done well, D&I will make your business more profitable by getting the right talent and developing people.
Our concern is that in many organisations, diversity has simply become a tick-box exercise. Without strategic leadership, D&I is perceived as a separate workstream, rather than being a driver of strategic goals.
How, then, can HR Directors stop D&I being sidelined, particularly when budgets are being trimmed?
First, they need to be clear about the value of D&I.
Secondly, they have to link it to the organisation’s business strategy.
Otherwise, equality issues will continue to be sidelined.