Legislation is still the main driver for improving diversity levels in the workplace.
More than two-thirds of organisations rank legislation as one of the top five drivers for equality, according to the Diversity in Business report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD).
Recruiting and retaining the best talent (64%), corporate social responsibility (62%), and becoming an employer of choice (62%) were all considered to be major diversity drivers by the 285 CIPD members surveyed.
"Because it makes business sense" and "because it is morally right" were also seen as significant reasons for 60% of organisations.
Only one-third of respondents (32%) cited trade union activities as a main reason, and less than one-third (30%) said they were responding to the global market.
Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, said adhering to legislation should not be the main driving force for diversity.
"While it is important to comply with the law," she said. "Legislation alone is not enough to remove unfairness. Bias will continue, despite complex legislation, unless employers understand the benefits diversity can offer and invest the resources required to drive change that will support improved business performance."
Worman said diversity needed to be embedded into all operational activities across the organisation to avoid costly employment claims.
"Managers are often the decision-makers when it comes to recruiting, training and promoting employees, so linking diversity to objective-setting and reward makes sense," she added.