Diversity Objectives - Surely valuing diversity and promoting inclusion is everyone’s business?

Sandra Kerr OBE, Business in the Community Race Equality Director on why diversity and inclusion is everyone's responsibility


I cannot find one reasonable person who would disagree with this statement.  Most people say when it comes to issues of equality and inclusion it’s important that everyone plays their part and we all do the right thing.

Employers who realise that a more diverse workplace increases the opportunity to generate creative and innovative ideas and reduces the risk of groupthink decisions – which can be very costly – do not need persuading.I

So why is it that, when we asked YouGov to do further analysis on the Race at Work (2015) survey of the question ‘Do you have a diversity performance objective to promote equality at work?’, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees were more likely to say yes to this question than White employees?

I have asked the question at a number of forums and events as to why this might be. To date in response to this question I’ve only seen faces as surprised as my own when I first saw the data.  I have thought about it too and I don’t know exactly why this is the case without further research. However, I do know that inclusion in the workplace is the responsibility of everyone who works there, especially those who lead and manage teams. We know from our benchmarking trend data that action is needed by employers to ensure that career progression isn’t stagnant and that diverse talent gets a fair opportunity to shine and progress in the workplace. The introduction of diversity and inclusion performance objectives is one intervention that would allow an employer to track their progress and better identify structural barriers that need dismantling.

Race at Work graph looking at performance apprasail KPI's

We are not waiting for further debate on this before we encourage employers to take action.  One of the recommendations from Race at Work is for employers to set objectives for managers at every level around ensuring diversity and inclusion in their teams. These objectives should include ensuring diverse talent has equal access to training, development opportunities and progression programmes.

We have developed the Diversity Objectives and Performance Appraisal toolkit to support employers who are keen to take action to start now.  I would like to say thank you to the diverse range of contributors who chair some of the race diversity networks in both the public and private sector and to Public Health England and the Royal Mail, Business in the Community race equality campaign champion members,  for sharing some examples of their approaches within the toolkit.