The CIPD has called on employers to recruit and develop a wealth of diverse groups to nurture the unique perspectives they can bring.
The research explores what is going on in UK-based organisations - through a series of structured focus groups of over 100 people, with a variety of HR directors, diversity and talent professionals - and adds to an increasing body of knowledge that places talent management as the top business concern in all economic sectors.
Five examples of good practice are also offered from Credit Suisse, BT, NHS Tower Hamlets, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and the Guardian Media Group - organisations that all go far beyond compliance with discrimination law.
The research demonstrates how they create an inclusive and open workplace by aiming for a seamless approach in the way they attract and develop people with the skills, abilities and potential to contribute their best.
Claire McCartney, resourcing adviser and co-author of the report at the CIPD, said: "The reality is that many organisations are not recruiting and developing the best possible candidates because they have not built diversity considerations into their talent management approaches. It's important that organisations see talent management and diversity as more, not less important, in periods of economic uncertainty to outwit and outperform competitors through their people. By opening up talent opportunities organisations will benefit from a stream of differing views and practical answers to problems, helping them to reflect increasingly diverse customer needs and remain ahead of the competition.
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser and co-author of the report at the CIPD, added: "It is alarming to see the wide gulf between the leaders and followers. There seems to be confusion about how to link talent management with diversity without breaking the law, resulting in the issues being dealt with separately so that organisations miss out on the benefits of a joined-up approach.
"Our research provides invaluable learning for organisations that have so far failed to make the connection between talent management and diversity, or that are struggling to see the business advantage of doing so."