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72% experience discrimination at work, report finds

Investing in HR software can allow employers to better track employees’ needs, we were told

Nearly three in four (72%) professionals say they have experienced discriminatory or exclusionary workplace behaviour since the start of 2019, an NGO-commissioned survey of 7,000 professionals has revealed.

A similar proportion of working professionals, 73%, reported that they have experienced barriers to progression in their career.

The Young Foundation's survey also found that 53% of professionals have considered leaving their profession or organisation because of issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Scepticism towards the capacity of DEI initiatives to deliver meaningful change has grown, the report's findings suggested, as 22% of professionals indicated that they believe DEI receives too much focus compared to other issues in their profession.

Responding to this, Shakil Butt, founder and CEO of the consultancy HR Hero for Hire, suggested that scepticism could be driven by feelings of individual rather than organisational responsibility.

Speaking to HR magazine, Butt said that having equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) led by an individual begs the question of where that individual sits in the hierarchy. He added: "If that person leaves, the initiative can easily wind down in their absence.

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Training can be part of the solution but it is not itself the complete solution. 

“Rather, what is required is to weave EDI throughout the employee lifecycle at the design stage rather than as an afterthought. 

“This means unpacking what is happening at recruitment and selection, performance management, promotion, employee relations and engagement and at dismissal.”

Ronni Zehavi, CEO and founder of HR software company HiBob, told HR magazine that investing in HR software can allow employers to better track employees’ needs.

He said: “The right people platform will provide the quantitative insights required, with employee resource groups and people surveys providing the qualitative insights.”

Zehavi added that employers should set a benchmark for DEI initiatives to drive cultural change in their organisations.

He said: “A key element of supporting cultural change is monitoring and acting on data. 

“Without a clear quantitative and qualitative benchmark on EDI, it is near-impossible to track progress, let alone develop the cultural initiatives that drive change. 

“Setting a criteria for measurement, for example, Gartner’s seven dimensions of inclusion, provides a clear framework for companies to follow.”

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Addressing the Young Foundation's finding that 53% of professionals have considered leaving their job because of issues related to DEI, Butt urged employers to drive wider cultural change.

“Too many initiatives tend to be quick fixes and are either not impactful or sustainable. 

“Hashtags, flags and flurries of activity are all well and good, but run the risk of being seen as virtue signalling if not gauging and understanding how inclusive the workplace culture actually is.

“The focus on certain dates in the calendar is useful for raising awareness, but does not necessarily change behaviours, so has limited impact.

“Too often DEI is not data-driven. Having clarity on what the actual problem is will enable a more strategic focus on what then needs to be done differently.”