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Diversity – will the tide turn in 2021?

Diversity – will the tide turn in 2021?

According to LinkedIn’s recent ‘Jobs on the rise’ report for the US market, workplace diversity experts are very much in demand. The prioritisation of diversity and inclusion jobs was one of the eight trends highlighted by Glassdoor in their 2020 jobs and hiring research report.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done on diversity, we seem to be moving in the right direction. Organisations across all sectors are realising that diversity can have a significant impact on their bottom line. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that diverse teams and diversity of thought will bring more ideas to the table and different skill sets. The combination of a person’s cultural upbringing and their personal/professional development brings a unique set of perspectives that are to be embraced.

McKinsey’s ‘Diversity Matters’ report found that companies who were the most gender diverse were 15% more likely to report financial returns that were above the median figures for their respective sectors. For those with the highest racial and ethnic workforces, that number more than doubled to 35%. In the UK, every 10% increase in gender diversity equated to a rise of 3.5% in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). Diversity is a powerful game changer.

Cultural change

As positive as the numbers are, there is still an underlying sense that many companies are looking for diversity specialists as a box ticking exercise, especially in light of #MeToo and its impact on the workplace. But you can’t simply expect a CDO or diversity manager to cure all the ills and simply wave his or her magic wand. Any change must firstly come from the top down and across the business. That might well mean tackling the company’s culture head on.

Recruitment and recruitment practices will clearly be key. Almost half of talent professionals (47%) say that hiring managers aren’t held accountable for interviewing a diverse group of candidates (LinkedIn). The role of HR will be central in helping to redesign recruitment processes to not only ensure that bias is reduced but that diversity is measured and diversity data is both monitored and tracked. That may well mean introducing and running diversity training programmes. 

With all the will in the world and despite the efforts of many, there is a clear lack of diversity among C-suites across sectors. So an increasing number in diversity roles and job titles such as CDO, diversity manager, diversity officer, head of diversity or diversity manager is a positive sign – albeit, two thirds of openings were with organisations of over 1,000 employees according to Glassdoor.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. But hiring a diversity expert is certainly a step in the right direction.    

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