Two thirds of British workers say workplace EDI is important when job hunting, survey finds

Data shows women place more credence on diversity and inclusion when considering a new role, yet a quarter have experienced gender bias

Credit: AndreyPopov/iStockphoto, Esra Sen Kula/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Two-thirds of UK workers (66 per cent) say that the acceptance and inclusion of employees from all backgrounds is important to them when searching for jobs, according to a new report.

The YouGov survey of over 2,000 working adults – which explored the importance placed on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) by British workers, their assessment of their employers, and the initiatives they think should be implemented by organisations – found that women place more importance on workplace diversity and inclusion when considering job opportunities (74 per cent) compared to men (58 per cent).

Younger workers also value diversity and inclusion more than their older counterparts – 78 per cent of 18-to–24-year-olds said it is important to them when job searching, compared to 60 per cent of respondents aged over 55.

Sandra Kerr CBE, race director of Business in the Community, said that with many employers struggling to recruit, it is essential that they don’t “underestimate the importance of strong diversity and inclusion policies for jobseekers”.

“Employers could miss out on potential talent if they do not ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to grow and progress at their organisation,” she warned.

“Prioritising strong diversity and inclusion policies could set organisations apart from their competitors.”

According to the report, four in 10 (41 per cent) UK workers believed that their current place of work values diversity and inclusion, while less than a fifth (19 per cent) said the same about their previous place of employment. Encouragingly, 61 per cent said that their workplace has active EDI policies or initiatives in place.

Lutfur Ali, senior equality, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said that the survey supports research carried out by the CIPD, as well as many other studies, that “organisations that prioritise equality, diversity and inclusion enjoy a wide range of benefits”.

“From attracting and retaining the best people, where there is a war for talent, to when employees feel accepted and included, respected and valued, not regardless of, but because of their backgrounds and personal characteristics, it fosters a sense of belonging, psychological safety, and trust within the workforce,” he added. “As a result, organisations experience increased employee engagement, greater innovation and improved productivity.”

The YouGov survey also found that one in four women (24 per cent) experienced gender bias in the workplace, compared to 8 per cent of men, while 16 per cent have experienced gender discrimination.

Tom Heys, legal analyst at Lewis Silkin, said that some of the results of the survey are not surprising, and that employers “clearly have more to do” as their “employees have high expectations”, which, according to the survey, aren’t yet being met.

“Gender and ethnicity pay-gap reporting have added structure to diversity and inclusion, forcing it into business agendas each year,” he added.

“These reports are increasingly being used as ‘brochures’ in a bid to attract top talent; with 66 per cent now saying diversity and inclusion is important when considering job opportunities, this will only increase.”

When asked how organisations could better promote EDI initiatives, 63 per cent of workers said encouraging regular employee feedback would be their top choice, while over half (55 per cent) believed their employer should create physically accessible workplaces.