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Black Lives Matter escalates importance of diversity in just 14% of workplaces


Just 14 per cent of both employers and employees say the importance of equality, diversity & inclusion (ED&I) has increased in their workplace because of the Black Lives Matter movement.
 
According to the survey of more than 4,000 employers and employees by recruiting experts Hays, the majority say there has been no change in focus in their workplace as a result of this or other similar movements. 
 
Yet when they next look for a new job, 54 per cent of professionals say an organisation’s ED&I policies will be either vital or important considerations when deciding who to work for. 
 
Fortunately, over half (58 per cent) of employers recognise that their organisation’s ED&I policies are vital or important in attracting new talent.
 
In addition, 30 per cent say ED&I will become more of a priority for them in the next three to six months. 
 
Comparing results by sector, 48 per cent of both HR and marketing & digital employers say ED&I will become a greater priority. Office support (46 per cent) and construction & property (34 per cent) are also above average. However, fewer accountancy & finance (25 per cent), IT (23 per cent) and resources & mining (18 per cent) employers will make ED&I a greater priority. 
 
“Despite COVID-19 headwinds, the Black Lives Matter movement and resulting demonstrations around the world brought the issue of equality, diversity & inclusion firmly to the fore,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand. 
 
“However, it seems that only a small number (14 per cent) of employers view ED&I as more important in their workplace as a result of the movement. Yet failing to commit to real and lasting ED&I action can weaken an organisation’s employment brand and damage their ability to attract new staff. 
 
“While it’s reassuring that 30 per cent of employers will make ED&I more of a priority in the months ahead, it’s also important to move beyond talk and make real progress.”
 

How to make ED&I progress in the workplace

According to Hays, one obstacle in moving from conversation to action is the failure to embed ED&I in the culture of an organisation. According to Nick, “This holds an organisation back because ED&I becomes more of a regulatory exercise. Rather than shifting mindsets around ED&I and embracing and celebrating underrepresented demographic groups and diversity of thought, the best that can be hoped for is a level of tolerance towards difference.”
 
The Hays survey found that 38 per cent of employers say ED&I is not embedded in their culture, either because it is not a priority, or it is viewed as a ‘nice to have’ only when time and budgets allow. 
 
Providing a sense of belonging for every employee, encouraging employees to have a voice, and fostering diversity of thought can also help improve ED&I within organisations, according to the recruiter. 
 
Also important is the introduction of a Reconciliation Action Plan – you can read Hays’s Reconciliation Action Plan here
 
Hays’s survey was conducted in August 2020 and was completed by 4,105 people. Of these, 966 responded as employers and 3,139 were working professionals. The full results can be found in the new Hays Barometer Report, available at www.hays.com.au/employer-insights/employer-tools/barometer-report 
 

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