Employees who do not believe their workplace is committed to diversity and inclusion (D&I) are three times more likely to leave than those who do, research has revealed, prompting calls for businesses to go beyond ‘one-size fits all’ strategies.
A poll of more than 2,000 UK employees found that only 56 per cent of those surveyed said they believed their organisation’s management was committed to improving D&I.
Of these, just 16 per cent said they were likely to leave in the next three years, compared to nearly half (48 per cent) of employees who said they weren’t convinced.
The results of the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) latest report, Why Your Diversity Strategy Needs to Be More Diverse, also found minority groups were far less likely to believe in their company’s commitment to D&I. Just 46 per cent and 39 per cent of BAME and LGBTQ+ respondents respectively reported they believed in their employer. This compared to 63 per cent of white male employees.
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BAME and LGBTQ+ individuals were also less likely than women to report their organisations had made progress. While 46 per cent of female employees believed their organisation had not advanced in the past three years, the figures were higher for BAME (52 per cent) and LGBTQ+ workers (50 per cent).
The report cited the #MeToo movement and gender pay gap reporting as potential reasons for relative confidence among women.
The report also found that although nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed were aware their organisation had established diversity programmes, only 33 per cent of the intended beneficiaries said they had gained from them.
Elliot Vaughn, partner and managing director at BCG and the report’s author, said: “People are looking for a workplace free of bias, which is not that much to ask for.
“To bring about tangible change, employers need to ensure they have a clear, up-to-date understanding of the make-up of the organisation’s workforce.”
Vaughan, who is also head of BCG’s LGBTQ network, added employers should investigate the root causes of workplace inequities through surveys and inclusive focus groups, and that subsequent interventions should be tracked and measured. “By tracking what happens to recruitment, retention and advancement you will have a clearer view of what is working,” he said.
Vaughan added communication was key. “Make it clear internally and externally that fostering a diverse workforce across all levels, in all its forms, is a company priority, and what’s being done about it.”
Claire McCartney, CIPD diversity and inclusion advisor, said: “The research shows that in the eyes of LGBTQ+ staff, much more commitment is needed. The survey also highlights that if diverse employees don’t feel properly supported in the workplace then organisations are likely to lose their talent.
“It is important, therefore, for organisations to show real commitment to diversity and inclusion in not just their words but their actions, and create a culture that creates a bias-free day-to-day experience for all, which allows everyone to give their best.”
Professor Sir Cary Cooper, CIPD president and professor of organisational psychology and health at Alliance Manchester Business School, said he was not surprised by the results of the study.
“Many employers claim they are developing strategies in this area, and in terms of gender they are making some progress. But when it comes to LGBT and BAME people, they say the right things but don’t develop the policies and practices to create the opportunities for these two groups of employees.
“We need to go beyond saying ‘this is the right to do’, to demonstrating the workplace and bottom-line benefits. Hopefully policies and practices will follow on.”