Half of employees view diversity programmes as a PR stunt, according to Adecco

David Woods , 02 Feb 2012


Almost half of UK workers think that employers’ diversity programmes are “only designed to attract good PR”, according to research published this morning from Adecco Group’s Unlocking Britain’s Potential campaign.

The poll found that a further quarter (27%) of employers believe that campaigns to promote a diverse workforce are aimed at gaining publicity rather than actively changing company culture. At the same time, over a quarter (29%) of employers admit that there is a 'certain type' of person that they regularly seek to recruit.

The research reveals a striking picture of UK plc, with a fifth (20%) of workers suggesting that their industry does not directly promote itself to certain sections of society, and a further fifth (22%) of employees saying that a diverse workforce will not provide the skills required by their organisation.

Despite the scepticism expressed towards employer diversity programmes, the research shows that there is a strong belief among both workers and business leaders that diversity has a vital role to play in the contemporary workplace. More than two thirds (69%) of employers think that companies with diverse workforces are best placed to succeed, and a similar proportion (70%) say a diverse and inclusive workforce directly improves company culture. Nearly half (44%) of workers say that they are more attracted to a company with a diverse workforce.

Adecco Group is now calling on the Government, businesses and other stakeholders for a radical reassessment of workplace diversity, as part of its major initiative to realise the full potential of the UK workforce and enable the UK to compete effectively in world markets.

The Unlocking Britain's Potential campaign is spearheaded by Adecco Group with support from a wide range of major organisations - including Cisco, M&S, British Airways and Deloitte - and is generating strong interest from politicians.

Chris Moore, director at the Unlocking Britain's Potential campaign said:"The business case for investment in diversity has never been clearer. A diverse workforce will widen Britain's talent pool, have a direct impact on employee engagement, and strengthen relationships with customers.

"But our research suggests that we are far from achieving the radical change in outlook required to genuinely promote the need for a diverse workforce in UK businesses.

"While it is encouraging that the case for greater female representation in the Boardroom is attracting such prominence, this is only a small but important part of the debate around boosting diversity in the workplace.

"Diversity is a question of encouraging and increasing social mobility - finding ways to ensure that potential British talent, from any and every background, is not overlooked."


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Diversity a stunt..dont be silly

Tracey Abbott 02 Feb 2012

If your company doesnt reflect your customer base or community you are failing them. Diversity isnt a nice to have, its vital. I specialise in the disability strand because there is so much discrimination and fear surrounding people with disability it needs a strong focus to make change. Some companies have been approaching diversity as this fluffy nebulus, looks good on a your CSR policy "thing".

Diversity adds great value

Richard Lock 02 Feb 2012

I work with large organisations that have hugely diversified workforces from across the globe. It adds greatly to the diverse thinking and ideas that are available to the organisation. Diversity just for the sake of it, or appearing to value it, is likely to represent an organisation that is stuck in a narrow band of strategic thinking that does not want to change. No wonder employees the disengage.

True value of diversity not recognised

Viv Brosnahan 02 Feb 2012

Unfortunately, I am not surprised at this viewpoint. I have been involved with diversity for over 25 years. One of the main problems is that many employees are resentful of the diversity 'agenda'. They perceive it in many cases as groups getting preferential treatment to their detriment. I have over the years debated/educated about the benefits of diversity with success in many cases. Unfortunately, the media does not help when it publishes stories about political correctness and what we can't say and do as it will offend ethnic minorities. Many people get their information from the media and if it is not reported in a responsible manner it can lead to inaccurate assumptions. Perhaps seeing examples or interviews with real people who can actually state facts about the impact and benefits would help, instead of soundbites from 'interested parties' who on many occasions are not representative of the groups they profess to represent. I do believe it would make a difference if employees saw real people they could relate to and address some of the misconceptions. I certainly have personal experience of this.


Dr. Atul Shah 02 Feb 2012

There is clearly a problem with leadership in the workplace, and the values and behaviour patterns they espouse. For example, saying that you believe in diversity and have very little of it at the top is itself a contradiction, and this is so common. I agree that we have a way to go. I have just written a book on Boardroom Diversity and it is clear from the research that Boards are often clueless about the real meaning and strength of diversity.

Undiverse organisations

Alick Miskin 02 Feb 2012

A company without a diverse workforce is like bread and cheese without pickle - it has no edge.

Not surprised, here's why...

harish 02 Feb 2012

I think there are several reasons for this, not least... - media controversy around politically correct diversity approaches, and in some case justifiably so - but because these relatively isolated cases get the most publicity, they distort perceptions of reality. - some organisations do treat their intiatives as tick box, and therefore are bound to fail , it's that simple. better to do nothing than risk taking your organisation backwards. - organisations are still learning e.g. these days we are addressing unconscious bias and using techniques such as social netowork analysis to more fully address the issues with clients. Part of a robust approach includes admitting you don't have all the answers and having a sincere desire to engage with stakeholders. - most importantly, I think it's because the focus, where there has been any, has been on diversity rather than inclusion. How can employees take their organisation seriously on diversity when they see no sincere attempts at incluson with the people they already have?

OC not PC

Shelley Collins 02 Feb 2012

Having designed, developed and delivered diversity training for my clients for the last 20 years, I can assure you that they do do it for the sake of window dressing or PR. Good PR is the by-product of an effective diversity and inclusion policy and strategy. There can be lip service paid along the way, unless you have the essential commitment from the very top of the organisation, with a clear implementation strategy linked to the bottom line of the organisation - organisational output or operational effectiveness. My clients, especially in the current climate are focussed on what really works- not PC but OC (Organisational Capability).

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