Half of young people would hesitate to work for a firm lacking diverse leaders, poll finds

Businesses warned they could lose out on top talent, with their track record on D&I a ‘key factor’ in UK employees’ career decisions

More than half of younger workers would be hesitant about accepting a job from an organisation that lacks a diverse leadership, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 UK workers of all ages conducted by technology firm Intel found 56 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 would hesitate to take a job if there were no minority or traditionally marginalised demographics represented among the company’s senior leadership team.

An equal proportion of 25 to 35-year-olds felt this way, compared to just 38 per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds and 37 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds.

Across all age groups, the survey found 42 per cent of respondents felt diversity was important because it allowed for a greater wealth of experience and insight within an organisation, while a similar number (40 per cent) said it showed an organisation placed people first.

“These are not isolated sentiments, but key factors driving the career decisions of UK employees, especially among younger age groups,” the report said – adding that a firm’s record on diversity and inclusion would “act as a tie-breaker” for a third of 18 to 24-year-old jobseekers choosing between two jobs.

As this generation continued to enter the workforce, they would increasingly voice the importance of diversity and inclusion, said Megan Stowe, director of EMEA international supplier diversity and inclusion at Intel. “Many have personally experienced discrimination as a result of gender, ethnic background, disability or sexual orientation, and are seeking career opportunities that align with their ethics and social values,” she said.

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“Companies must accelerate their efforts to create diverse, inclusive workplaces to meet the expectations of a generation that will be making career choices as much on values and sense of purpose as pay and progression.” 

The survey also found that younger people were more likely to have experienced bias than other workers. Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 39 per cent reported having experienced bias as a result of gender, compared to just 29 per cent of 25 to 35-year-olds, and 11 per cent of those aged 55-64.

Similarly, 31 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds had experienced bias because of their personal appearance, 26 per cent because of their ethnic background and 21 per cent because of their sexual orientation. In all cases, these were higher figures than the average across all age groups, the report found.

The only area where younger workers faced less bias than some other groups was age discrimination. Two-fifths (40 per cent) of 18 to 24-year-olds reported facing age bias, compared to 46 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds and 53 per cent of over-65s.