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Black Lives Matter not leading to diversity policy change

The global momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement has not led to a change in focus of diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies, according to new research.

Recruiting group Hays said that more than two thirds (67%) of employers believe their organisation's D&I policies are key to helping them attract new talent, with 70% of employees saying these policies are also important to them when considering a new role.

Yet the research found there had not been a mass change in focus of D&I at an organisational level.

Of those who responded to the survey, 70% of employers said movements such as Black Lives Matter have not changed their organisation's focus on D&I, and this was echoed by 65% of employees.

Only a third (33%) of employers said the importance of D&I in their organisation has increased, and even fewer employees (26%) agree.

Younger workers are more optimistic than older employees, with over a third (34%) of those born in Generation Z (after 1995) believing that movements such as Black Lives Matter have made D&I more important, compared with 22% of Baby Boomers (those born between 1940-1960).

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Change looks to be imminent though after the survey found around half (52%) of employers thought D&I would become more of a priority for their organisation in the next three months.

This was highest among employers in central government (70%), media (65%) and healthcare (63%). It looks set to be less of a focus, however, in accountancy (32%) and manufacturing (28%).

Hays group head of equality, diversity and inclusion Yvonne Smyth said: “Our findings confirm that the importance of D&I policies is realised by employers and this is strongly backed up by employees, for whom it is more of a priority than it’s ever been.

“However, there is a sense that the focus on D&I has not changed in recent months, despite movements such as Black Lives Matter which have placed the spotlight on the difficult lived experiences faced by many in our societies.”

She added employers should make it a priority to progress their D&I strategy, in the first instance ensuring that they are communicating their efforts across internal and external channels and regularly emphasising successes and results.

“Furthermore, change happens when everyone works collectively, so employees should also be encouraged to get involved in initiatives they’re passionate about rather than reacting to an agenda driven solely from the top.”

The survey of over 13,500 respondents was carried out by Hays from 8-21 July.