Employers failing to back up promises on diversity

There is a clear mismatch between UK employers’ claims that they want to promote best practice on gender diversity issues and their commitment to enacting these principles, research has found.

The latest gender equality and diversity benchmarking report, from campaigning group Opportunity Now, shows employers across the board receiving lower scores on the impact of their diversity training than were recorded in the last survey.

The 2005/06 report shows that, on average, employers are effective in implementing diversity schemes 72% of the time – a drop of 4% since the last report in 2004. The decline in scores is more pronounced for private sector employers than for their public sector counterparts.

Private sector organisations scored 67%, while the public sector scored a 78% success rate with its range of diversity initiatives.

The biggest mismatch between employers’ good intentions and their actual impact was found in equal pay. Eighty-three per cent have initiated work to close the pay gap, but only 8% have been judged effective on ensuring pay equality.

Opportunity Now director Norma Jarboe said that unequal pay was “a tipping point of discrimination”.

Many organisations do not follow through on their professed commitment to equal pay issues by undertaking full pay audits, as “they are almost happy not to know what they don’t know”, she said.

“The key message is that there is no room for complacency,” Jarboe added. “Many employers think gender has been addressed but, in many cases, gender issues have not actually been fully resolved.”

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