One in four firms doing nothing to improve boardroom diversity

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Date: 20 October 2020

A diverse group of employees having a meeting

A quarter of employers (24%) make no effort to attract and recruit more diverse candidates for top-level jobs, according to a new report.

The Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2020, published by recruitment specialists Omni RMS and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), has found that recent improvements in diversity in the workplace have happened "by accident rather than design".

The survey findings show that while 41% of employers have recruited a more diverse workforce in the past year, only 23% go beyond basic legislative requirements with regards to their recruitment and selection processes.

The poll of 660 employers also found that:

  • Only 37% monitor their recruitment to obtain data on protected characteristics;
  • 27% remove certain biographical details from initial selection process;
  • One third (33%) ensure they have a diverse interview panel or hiring team;
  • Just 23% check that recruitment tests used are valid, reliable and objective.

The use of technology during the recruitment and selection process - from chatbots to video CVs - is also explored in the report. The findings show that 28% of employers say it has helped to reduce unconscious bias to a large or moderate extent - and they are also more likely to report that technology has increased the diversity of their hires.

Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said: "The findings of this report suggest that improvements in workforce diversity have happened by accident rather than design. We could be making quicker and considerable progress with a more strategic approach.

"It's particularly disappointing to find that a quarter of organisations are not doing anything to improve boardroom diversity. Not only is this where the problem is most acute … but achieving change here would have maximum impact. We need to have a broad range of diverse people in decision-making roles and be role models for future talent.

"Employers can't expect to make meaningful change through a leave-it-and-see policy. Improving diversity needs to be actively worked on and we'd encourage all employers to add much more rigour, consistency and challenge into their recruitment and selection processes."

Louise Shaw, director of resourcing transformation at Omni RMS, said: "Despite some positive findings, it's disappointing that little progress has been made since 2017. The #BlackLivesMatter protests brought the racial inequalities within our societies and workplaces into sharp focus, and we believe organisations must be held accountable for ensuring greater racial and, of course, broader diversity at the very top."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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