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Encouraging diversity ‘costs nothing,’ says CEO

A diverse workforce is key to business success

Almost half of employers admit to having no strategies or programmes put in place to achieve equality in the workforce, even though most companies consider it priority. The British workforce is made up of over 32 million people, and approximately 46% of those are women, a number that has almost doubled since the 1970s, but as the population continues to grow, so too does the concern.

The government believes that around 11% of workers in the country are BME, or black and minority ethnic and while the statistics mean more people from minority backgrounds are in work than ever before, around 37% remain unemployed.

The research was carried out by Robert Walters and the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI), and revealed that 85% of bosses say building and increasing diversity is a priority for their firm. However, the results suggested confusion over who should be enforcing the change. Over half of respondents to the study believed that senior management should be responsible for encouraging diversity, while 35% believe it should be down to HR departments to tackle the concern.

As the population of the United Kingdom becomes more diverse, employers believe it is vital for the country’s workforce to reflect the shifting landscape. Chris Hickey, CEO of Robert Walters UK, Middle East and Africa, believes that restricting recruitment from a variety of different backgrounds will ultimately affect businesses.

“Relatively few businesses are taking steps to attract candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, potentially preventing themselves from reaching highly skilled professionals and building a diverse workplace,” said Mr Hickey. “A diverse workforce can deliver tangible advantages for employers in terms of productivity and innovation.”

Many surveyed agree with this sentiment, revealing that almost three quarters of employers believe workforce diversity encourages creativity and innovation. 67% also admitted they feel it’s necessary for a company to reflect the community they operate in to the best of their ability. ENEI are concerned that restrictive employment can affect the UK’s performance as a global player, even though there’s no excuse for a lack of diversity.

“Most practices are simple to implement and often cost nothing but can make a huge difference to the diversity of an organisation,” said Denise Keating, CEO of ENEI. “Research has shown that effective diversity policies have been linked to improved performance, brand awareness, and the ability to deliver better products and services through creativity and innovation”