Why so many companies are failing on diversity

by Adelle Chua15 Sep 2017
Diversity is an issue CEOs must tackle directly and not just delegate to the HR director, said research and survey firm Green Park.

This was among the recommendations it made on the heels of a survey that said eight in 10 minority leaders believe there is institutional prejudice against minorities in the UK workforce, including the organisations they work for.

The survey, called Changing the Face of Tomorrow’s Leaders: Increasing Ethnic Minority Representation in Leadership, also said that while 18% of respondents have personally experienced discrimination in the past two years, 73% believe most workplace prejudice is unconscious.

And while 60% of ethnic minority leaders believe that institutional racism in the workplace has moved up the agenda, two thirds said the subject still makes people uncomfortable.

Raj Tulsiani, chief executive of Green Park, said the workforce needs greater diversity at the board level.

“This isn’t an issue of political correctness; it is an issue of ensuring firms draw upon the largest possible talent pool, benefiting from the breadth of experience and expertise of a diverse workforce,” he told Rob Moss of Personnel Today.

Only 2% of companies surveyed are meeting their identified targets on ethnic minority board level representation.

There is not much confidence things will change in the immediate future, either. Two thirds of ethnic minority leaders did not believe there would be a significant improvement in representation at board levels in two years’ time. In fact, just a fifth believed representation would improve, but only with direct government intervention.

Barriers to addressing diversity at the board level were:
  • underdeveloped pipelines/strategies,
  • followed by a lack of accountability in the recruitment supply chain, and
  • a lack of commitment to diversity.
Other recommendations made by Green Park, aside from leading change from the top,  are:
  • Optimising the supply chain: Organisations want to ensure they are reaching diverse candidates, so they need to work with suppliers with experience and credibility that diverse candidates already trust.
  • Creating your own talent map and pipelines: Recruiters should be tasked with isolating talent pools, internally and externally. Ceate programmes to engage and progress diverse talent; require regular reporting to ensure representation is maintained.
  • Tackling difficult conversations: Organisations must be open and accountable. They must make public and transparent commitments to change.
  • Collecting data: The research found that 78% of firms have no ethnic minority leadership targets within their organisations. It is imperative to know where diverse talent sits.
“We need much greater diversity at board level as a matter of urgency, there is no point having programmes at entry level ensuring greater diversity if these candidates become quickly disillusioned if they see a ‘ceiling’ they will not be able to break through,” Tulsiano said.

Related stories:
Why workplace inclusion is HR’s orchestra
Is ‘blind recruitment’ the key to workforce diversity?


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