Public sector bodies are the most likely organisations to tackle diversity, according to research from Personnel Today‘s sister publication IRS Employment Review.
The survey of 140 employers – covering a combined workforce of 375,100 people – showed that public sector bodies are more likely to employ a senior person to oversee diversity management, have a stand-alone diversity budget, and discuss equality issues regularly at board meetings.
Among those organisations where a specialist takes the lead on diversity issues, 23% believed the individual has had a ‘very positive influence’, and 33% reported they’d had a ‘positive’ influence. However, one in five said the specialist had no influence, while 23% were not sure how much impact they’d had.
Two-thirds of the respondents (62%) believed their organisation aims to put diversity and equality at the centre of everything it does. And 81% believed their workforce had become more diverse in recent years. However, one-quarter (26%) reported that their organisation only did the bare minimum required in this area.
Just over one-third of organisations had received at least one complaint relating to equality and diversity over the past year. But eight in 10 said they had experienced at least one benefit as a result of focusing on equality and diversity. The most common were the ability to recruit from a wider talent base, and an enhanced employer brand.
Half the employers surveyed had a staff network, group or forum to help address equality issues on areas of potential discrimination. Of the 71 respondents with staff networks in place, the most common type was a disability network (69%). This was followed by networks for ethnicity/race (65%), sexual orientation (47%), gender (44%), religion and/or belief (37%), caring responsibilities/work-life balance (36%), and age (29%).
To take the diversity agenda forward, respondents would like to see a greater focus on diversity training, greater commitment from senior management, and broader employee ownership.