Two-thirds of UK workers would look for new job if employer did not prioritise DEI, report finds

Experts warn businesses that failing to act on equality would lead to a ‘drain on talent’

Credit: Koh Sze Kiat/Getty Images

More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of UK workers would consider looking for a job elsewhere if they discovered their employer had an unfair gender pay gap or no diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy, research has shown.

The ADP report, People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View, which polled 33,000 workers in 17 countries, found that workplace diversity was becoming increasingly important to employees and that most businesses recognised this.

However, around a third of UK workers said their employer either talked about the importance of a gender pay policy or DEI, but did not have one, or never mentioned it at all (32 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively). 

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Katy Neep, gender director at Business in the Community, said the findings showed that employees wanted to work for organisations that take pay gaps and DEI strategies seriously. 

“Employers that don’t [take DEI seriously] risk losing employees because of it,” she cautioned, adding that “it is clear that DEI and pay gap strategies work, which is why employers need to ensure that these issues firmly remain at the top of the business agenda”.

When it comes to bearing the responsibility for DEI progress, workers generally saw management teams, company owners and HR departments as the primary drivers of gender pay equality and DEI within organisations. However, 30 per cent said it was left up to employees to make these efforts, while a quarter (24 per cent) said no one was taking care of it.

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The study also found that three in 10 UK workers (30 per cent) have noticed their employer has made improvements in terms of gender pay equality and DEI, compared to three years ago. Conversely, 15 per cent thought progress had worsened.

Suggesting ways for organisations to take measurable action, Sophia Dutton, marketing and communications manager for Inclusive Recruiting and A little bit of HR, advised employers to “conduct formal pay equity reviews to ensure pay parity and make adjustments where gaps are identified”, adding that “you must be fully committed to building on this by taking targeted action”.

Sirsha Haldar, managing director of ADP UK, Ireland and South Africa, warned that there was a risk that failure to be proactive when it comes to equality could act as “a drain on talent”.

“Employers could put themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they fail to seek out the best candidates from the widest pool,” he said. “They may struggle to retain highly skilled or qualified women or people from a diverse range of ethnicities and backgrounds if they do not tackle pay gaps or deliver equality of opportunity.”

From an international perspective, the study found that the Asia-Pacific region was performing best in this category, with the majority of workers noting their employer had a gender pay equality and a DEI policy (64 per cent and 61 per cent).