COVID-19 has delayed diversity and inclusion in workplaces

Over a third of workers (34%) believe COVID-19 has delayed efforts to improve diversity, inclusion and belonging in their company.

Time for Change, a new report by job site Indeed, found that workers thought the pandemic had shifted their companies' focus away from diversity.

While 57% of respondents said they believe their organisation was taking steps to improve diversity before the pandemic, one in ten (10%) said they now think there has been a focal shift away from it.

More than two fifths (43%) of respondents said they believe their organisation could still be doing more to improve diversity.

In the report Emma Slade Edmondson, strategic creative director at ESE Consultancy, said the pandemic had meant less emphasis has been put on D&I.

She said: “There has been less focus on the inclusion of team members and the ability to place checks on people’s mental health due to physical barriers of not being present in an office.”

Edmondson argued companies had been “relatively fortunate” that the shift to remote working due to COVID-19 coincided with the events such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

She added: “Companies have been forced to address racial or other injustices present in their workplaces and have had the luxury of time and physical distance to do so.

“It will be interesting to see if they keep up their efforts going forward into a new working environment where home working is the norm.”

The report called on businesses to boost inclusion efforts by educating employees; making job postings gender neutral, expanding hiring searches; telling good employee stories to demonstrate your company’s inclusive and welcoming culture and building an inclusion team.

Further reading

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In a report from McKinsey & Company earlier this month, nine out of 10 CEOs said that D&I had remained their top priority during the pandemic yet employees istill felt unsupported.

In the Indeed report, workers who are disabled (51%), almost half from black or mixed-race backgrounds (45%) and over a third of lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents (39%) reported experiencing workplace discrimination.

Furthermore, while 72% rated their organisation as excellent or good in terms of their approach to diversity, inclusion and belonging, the experience of minority groups was not as positive.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents with a mental disability reported experiencing workplace discrimination, increasing to 45% for black or mixed-race respondents and 39% for those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Paul Wolfe, head of HR at Indeed, said: “We know that people and companies thrive when employees feel they truly belong and to create that culture employers need to take a holistic approach.

“This involves identifying conscious and unconscious biases that exist in hiring processes as well as recognising the importance of educating hiring managers and leaders on the benefits of a diverse workforce.”