Employers not doing enough to encourage senior level diversity

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​Less than a quarter (23%) of UK employers go beyond basic legislative requirements on diversity when it comes to recruitment and selection of senior level roles.

The CIPD and recruitment outsourcing provider Omni’s Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2020 found that though two in five (41%) organisations had recruited a more diverse workforce in the last year, a quarter (24%) of them don’t consider diversity when it comes to sourcing candidates for senior roles.

Only 27% of organisations responding to the poll said they anonymise the initial selection process by removing certain biographical details from applications, and just one third (33%) make sure that there is diversity in the interviewing panel or hiring team.

Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said that the findings suggest that improvements to diversity “have happened by accident rather than design” and therefore called for a more strategic approach to expedite and improve progress.

Using technology was one way that employers were aiming to reduce unconscious bias in the recruitment and selection process.

However, though 28% said technology helped to reduce bias to a large or moderate extent, fewer responses (22%) said that it had increased diversity of hires to the same extent.

The main benefit organisations felt technology brought to the process was accessibility for candidates – 62% of employers said this had increased to a large or moderate extent.

To take a more proactive approach to diversity at a senior level, the report recommended organisations look at their brand and culture to see how attractive they are to diverse candidates.

It also suggested developing career returner and mid-career change programmes to widen the talent pool.

To understand how people from different industries or backgrounds can transfer the skills and knowledge they already have, the report also encouraged HR to ask role-critical questions at interview and application stages.

McCartney said: “Employers can’t expect to make meaningful change through a leave-it-and-see policy. Improving diversity needs to be actively worked on and we’d encourage all employers to add much more rigour, consistency and challenge into their recruitment and selection processes.”

Diversity findings from the report add to growing calls for the UK in general to take more action in its aims to achieve gender and racial equality.

A comparative analysis of international gender pay gap reporting legislation by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London this year found that the UK is “unique in its light-touch approach” to what it asks of businesses after identifying and reporting gender pay gaps.

Alongside Austria, the UK is one of the only countries analysed by the institute that does not make it mandatory for employers to submit an action plan to tackle pay disparities once identified.

Though recent research from PwC showed that the percentage of businesses calculating their ethnicity pay gap data has risen by 18% over the last two years, this rise represents just one quarter (23%) of businesses calculating this gap.

Speaking overall of the Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2020, Louise Shaw, director resourcing transformation at Omni RMS, said that the progress made over the past three years is “disappointing.”

She said: “The #BlackLivesMatter protests brought the racial inequalities within our societies and workplaces into sharp focus, and we believe organisations must be held accountable for ensuring greater racial and, of course, broader diversity at the very top.

“Recruiting diverse talent is only the start and organisations need to be reporting externally on their true effectiveness by measuring inclusive engagement, retention, and career development. This is what will give organisations full visibility of what is and isn’t working so they can make informed changes and realise the business benefits."

The Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2020 polled 660 employers in the UK between mid-April and the end of May this year.
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