BSI releases new EDI standard to help employers ‘prioritise people’

Experts say if guidance is not adopted and ‘used well’ by organisations then change cannot happen

Credit: Dzmitry Dzemidovich/iStockphoto/Getty Images

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has released a new code which acts as a guide to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. 

The standard – PAS 1948:2023 – released on 20 June, and designed for individuals across an organisation from executive leadership to employees, aims to help embed equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) “more widely” and give practical guidance on how to “develop and implement” an effective EDI framework. 

In addition, BSI recommended that the standard be used as a practical implementation guide for other framework standards such as: 

  • BS ISO 30415:2021, Human resource management – Diversity and inclusion

  • BS 76000:2015, Human resource – Valuing people – Management system

  • ISO 45003, Psychological Health and Safety at work

Gemma Dale, senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, said there are definite positives to the standard, but it’s the responsibility of organisations to implement it effectively. 

“The design of the standard takes into account the size and resources of the organisation, and it has been developed to be practical and approachable,” said Dale, who commended this for smaller organisations “without dedicated resources”. 

“It is comprehensive too, incorporating aspects of the employment life cycle through to branding and innovation. It is therefore positioning equality and inclusion as not just something for HR to do.”

However, Dale warned that unless it is “used and used well” by firms, then it can’t lead to real change, which comes from “ organisation-wide commitment”.

The guide does not cover local, national, or international employment law or regulation, but includes standards, principles and statements issued by organisations, research institutes, government agencies, and other bodies. 

BSI said the guide is intended to be used as a “real-world guide” to help organisations implement an EDI framework and continuously improve it. 

Rebecca Francis-Davies, founder of Swansea Bay HR, said that standards such as this will benefit many, as half the working population works for an SME and are “unlikely to work for an organisation with the resources to employ a specialist” in EDI. 

“These standards give us the opportunity to extend a basic minimum standard for everyone in the workplace. The emphasis is on practical guidance so ideal for those without specialists in the workplace,” said Francis-Davies. 

The standard – which is free to download – outlines understanding and implementing concepts such as diversity of thought, dimensions of diversity, intercultural competence and cognitive diversity. 

The framework follows previous People Management reporting which found a lack of diversity of thought among FTSE board members. 

The report by Women on Boards UK suggested a lack of skills diversity in boards as just 2.3 per cent of executive board members, both men and women, hold positions other than chief executive, chief financial officer or company secretary. 

Rob Cross, founder of The Purposeful Leader, told People Management that diversity was often thought about in terms of race and gender, and “diversity of life” was forgotten. 

“When we rely only on building boards by drawing from classic roles of CEO and CFO we miss other viewpoints like those relating to people and markets, which are becoming critical in our increasingly turbulent world,” said Cross.