Diversity will be a pipedream until HR, directors and line managers collaborate to make it a reality, finds our new survey in association with DLA
The UK's employers risk skills shortages, recruitment and retention problems and costly tribunal claims because they are failing to promote equality and value diversity, exclusive research reveals.
The survey, by Personnel Today and law firm DLA, of HR professionals across 1,400 employers, reveals there is not enough support for diversity issues from top management.
It says line managers have inadequate skills to deal with a diverse workforce, and most employers don't even measure the diversity profile of their staff.
It also highlights that just 42 per cent of respondents believe the most senior people in their organisation are 'genuinely committed' to improving diversity.
A quarter of those polled say the attitudes of their directors or chief executives towards diversity are 'neutral' and 19 per cent report their leaders pay 'lip service' to the issue.
Of the remainder, 10 per cent of HR professionals think the top management tier sees the issue as a legal minefield, and 4 per cent feel their leaders perceive diversity issues as 'nonsense'.
Pauline Matthews, partner at law firm DLA, said it was "almost impossible for organisations to make progress in improving attitudes towards equality and increasing the overall diversity among staff unless the most senior people are on board".
She said: "I think this finding is extremely worrying. Without commitment from the top, you are not going to make much progress in changing attitudes towards diversity."
Just as worrying for business, 62 per cent of HR professionals don't think their line managers have the skills to deal with the issues. Half those polled report line managers don't understand the business benefits of equality and diversity strategies.
Research by Opportunity Now shows that, by 2010, only 20 per cent of the UK working population will be white, male, able-bodied and under 45. A staggering 80 per cent of the growth in the workforce by 2010 will be created by women.
Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), said she was particularly concerned by the shortcomings at line management level.
"Line managers are the vital connecting point between good intention and actual delivery. I