The majority of managers in the UK are ill-prepared to tackle diversity in the workplace or close the ethnicity pay gap, a new survey has found.
The poll of 940 managers found almost two thirds (61 per cent) had either never received diversity and inclusion (D&I) training or had not had any such training in the last 12 months.
Experts that spoke to People Management said training alone would not be enough to close the ethnicity pay gap.
But the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) research also found junior managers were far less likely to confront discrimination in the workplace than their more experienced peers. Nearly a quarter (73 per cent) of directors felt comfortable addressing discriminatory language, compared to just 52 per cent of junior managers.
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The release of the survey coincided with the publication of an ethnicity pay report from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that found workers from ethnic minorities were likely to earn less per hour than white workers.
The BEIS report also found black workers were more likely to be overqualified than white workers, but that white employees were more likely to be promoted than all other ethnic groups.
The government is widely expected to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay reporting, similar to gender pay reporting, launching a consultation on on how this might be implemented last year. However, the CMI raised concerns businesses would not be in a position to start closing the ethnicity pay gap.
Ann Francke, CEO of the CMI, stressed that managers play a pivotal role in making workplaces more diverse and inclusive. “If we are to build the pipeline of BAME talent then we need to enable line managers so they champion, not block, change,” she said.
“The fact that around one in four managers have never received training on how to manage diversity and inclusion is shocking.”
Nancy Roberts, CEO and founder of Umbrella, a diversity consultancy, told People Management these issues hit junior managers particularly hard because they are often not in a position to discuss discriminatory behaviour in the workplace or feel they have a lot to lose by doing so.
“As you are building your career, you are also weighing the possibilities of damaging your progress,” she said.
According to Roberts, companies need to implement zero-tolerance policies, backed by HR, in order to ensure more junior members of staff can feel confident enough to address these issues.
Roberts added diversity training alone could not impact current pay gap issues, and said sponsorship and mentoring offered better opportunities for under-represented groups. “There is still an old boys' club in operation at the top of British business, therefore white managers tend to benefit from informal mentoring and sponsorship via their social networks,” she said.
“Diversity and inclusion training can be useful in helping managers run a diverse team, but pay issues speak to corporate culture, and these questions are about organisational rather than individual bias.”
The CMI survey found only 36 per cent of white managers thought mentoring and sponsoring was important to a great extent when dealing with inclusivity and D&I, compared to 54 per cent of BAME managers.
Rob Wall, head of policy at the CMI, said sponsorship and mentoring were a crucial part of fighting the pay gap, and added D&I should be part of an organisation's performance management system. “Financial rewards and consequences should be linked to behaviours and to the delivery of targets,” he said
Claire Williams, director of inclusion and diversity at Inclusive Employers, told People Management most managers needed support in order to promote D&I. “We all know people who instinctively ‘get’ inclusion and diversity – who are able to respond to people as individuals and flex their style accordingly.”
As well as mandatory unconscious bias training, Williams suggested organisations consider training on workplace discrimination, implement fair appraisal processes and monitor which employees receive high-level work and development opportunities.
“The business case is clear that inclusive cultures and diverse workforces enhance an organisation’s performance,” she added.