Are companies including diversity and inclusion in their policies just to look good?

Diversity and inclusion policies
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Go back say ten years, and if you asked the average CEO of a major UK organisation about their Diversity and Inclusion policies, they probably needed to ask their PR department what you were talking about.

Move forward and in the past few years so much has happened across the world, especially because of George Floyds death and the Black Lives Matter movement, that now most companies have some kind of diversity and inclusion policies promoted across the websites.

Many now have created diversity and inclusion Directors and Managers as well.

We even now have a list of top diversity and inclusion companies across the UK.

So, what are the responsibilities of the managers for the diversity policy?

Managers are responsible for understanding their role in promoting diversity, communicating, and implementing policies and procedures effectively and collaborating with staff to integrate the values of diversity into employment practices.

Diversity and Inclusion Manager responsibilities might include:

Designing company policies that reinforce diversity in the workplace, address all kinds of harassment and protect minority groups. Training hiring managers and HR staff on how to select, manage, evaluate, and retain diverse employees.

Diversity and inclusion also affect human resources functions, such as record keeping, training, recruiting and requirements for HR staff expertise.

In many ways, diversity and inclusion increase HR responsibilities and holds the department accountable for functions mandated by law.

Sounds impressive but in reality what can they do legally?

The UK legislation for equality and diversity comes predominantly in the form of the Equality Act 2010. It replaced the previous legislation that was in place, creating one general act to follow instead of lots of smaller ones.

The act states that the general duty of this body is to encourage and support the development of a society that respects the individual’s human rights and that encourages people to achieve their potential without being limited by prejudice or discrimination.

Is diversity a legal requirement?

Although it is not a strict legal requirement i.e., there is no direct penalty for not having one, all employers are likely to have an equality and diversity policy in their staff handbook, as a minimum. … Even a basic policy can help an employer defend an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim.

If you ask the average member of public, have they heard about Diversity, they are now likely to have heard about it, due to the likes of Black Lives Matters and the efforts from people in the news, such as Sir Lewis Hamilton.

So how many companies have inclusion and diversity policies?

According to a survey in September this year by Workday, almost a third of UK businesses still do not have a strategic approach to inclusion and diversity, according to new findings.

Their survey of more than 2,000 HR professionals and business leaders across the UK and EMEA by Workday found that 31 per cent of UK respondents, said their organisation did not take a strategic approach to inclusion and diversity, and had not even taken any steps towards implementing one.

The study also revealed that more than half describe recording equity, diversity, and inclusion as a “challenge,” and one in 10 UK businesses did not see the importance of diversity. 12 per cent believed it is “polarising”.

Trivialised

A further 15 per cent of respondents to the survey said they believed inclusion and diversity were “trivialised”, with a focus on similarities rather than celebrating differences.

On the other hand, a quarter (25 per cent) of those polled said their strategic approach to diversity was a priority.

Half (46 per cent) of employers said diversity was recognised and celebrated in their business, and 38 per cent said their organisation planned to increase investment in diversity initiatives, while 37 per cent said they planned to maintain it.

So, there you have it in a nutshell. There is still a long way to go. Let us hope that public and staff opinions will persuade the other two thirds of UK companies to adopt their own diversity and inclusion policies soon.

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