The great diversity divide: Rest of the UK lags significantly behind London workplaces on making diversity & inclusion a priority

New research from networking group People Like Us and Censuswide explores the impact the Black Lives Matter movement has had on the UK workforce. The research reveals a divided national response to the protests with two-thirds (67%) of London professionals saying that they feel Diversity & inclusion (D&I) are a higher priority for their company since the movement came into the spotlight in 2020; however, this falls to well under a third of workers outside London.

Over a third (35%) of the workforce agree that the momentum of diversity has fizzled out in the workplace since it was in the public eye in the summer of 2020 (that number shoots up to 57% when the same question was asked to BAME workers).

Covid potentially impacting the extent to which D&I is prioritised
Those who work in Advertising, Marketing, PR and Technology are mostly likely to believe D&I is now a greater priority; whereas employees working in industries most impacted by Covid (Manufacturing, Travel and Healthcare) are least likely.

Younger professionals have lower confidence that we are making progress on D&I
Whilst two-thirds of managers feel that progress has been made on D&I, this falls to under half amongst junior ranks. However, 85% of managers claim to have done something personally to become anti-racist (vs. 61% non-managers); the challenge is to use these individual actions to build confidence amongst junior colleagues that D&I is being taken seriously.

Sheeraz Gulsher, Co-Founder of People Like Us, comments: “BLM has been a hugely impactful movement that’s made the world examine the challenges that face Black people and subsequently, the challenges that those from other minority backgrounds face. The impact on the UK workforce, while gradual, is hugely important in creating fairer opportunities for all. We hope we continue seeing momentum – our research shows just under three in 10 UK professionals feel their companies did not respond to BLM in any way, so we must continue to hold companies accountable and celebrate the talent we do have, to attract others.”

Darain Faraz, Co-Founder of People Like Us, comments “As someone who has worked in Marcomms in London for a large part of their career, the differences our survey has delivered are stark and worrying. It’s a tale of London vs. outside London, it’s a story of senior vs. junior staff and the findings are emphasised even further when you look at the industry-by-industry comparison. The results clearly point towards the need for bespoke solutions for specific audiences. Whilst nationally there is a net-positive attitude to D&I since BLM – the moment you dig a bit deeper the story becomes markedly different.”

Other key findings:
Ethnic Pay Gap brought forward by BLM
The study also explored attitudes towards the ethnicity pay gap reporting. Over half (56%) of those who think ethnic pay gap reporting will be part of legislation in the future think the BLM protests in 2020 brought this forward, compared to just 3% who think it pushed this back. On average, working professionals think companies with 250+ employees will have to report on ethnic pay gaps as part of legislation (as they do with gender) by 2023.

PR & Advertising streets ahead of other industries in terms of D&I prioritisation
The study also revealed the industries most likely to believe diversity and inclusion has been a greater priority since the summer, with PR (81%), advertising (75%), IT & Telecoms (40%) employees stating its importance in their companies. In industries potentially most impacted by Covid, there have been proportionally less workers that say it’s a priority in their company including in Manufacturing & Utilities (21%), Travel and Transport (12%) and Healthcare (32%).

Half the UK workforce believe positive impact has been made since BLM
Almost half (49%) of working professionals feel a positive impact has been made in the workplace and they are confident it will continue. The top three actions working professionals said the company they work for did in response are a statement to staff (24%); investing in training sessions such as unconscious bias and white privilege workshops (22%) and pledging to review their D&I initiatives (20%).

However, there is clearly much more work to be done. Just 13% of people said their company actually hired more employees from Black, Asian, Mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds and almost three in 10 (29%) employees said their company didn’t do anything in response to Black Lives Matter.

The research comes as networking group People Like Us announce their third event, to celebrate the work of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic professionals. The event is open to UK professionals from all backgrounds and will take place virtually on Thursday 25th February from 4-5pm, with 10 media and marcomms professionals from Black, Asian, Mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds presenting work they are proud of in just a three-minute slot each.

The details
People Like Us 
Thursday 25th February
Time: 4pm – 5pm

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