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Diversity: Employers are ‘Missing the Mark’

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Employers are missing the mark when it comes to managing diversity within the workplace, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) claims.

The survey Diversity in business - a focus for progress uses a diversity sophistication index to measure the progress employers have made.

The CIPD said the index showed that while employers focus on responding to legal requirements the majority were failing to focus on the broader business benefits, such as improving creativity and innovation.

The top business benefit, the survey showed, was seen as better talent management, indicating its link to people management and development.

Public sector employers were said to lead the way in managing diversity, closely followed by those in the voluntary sector. However, no organisation represented in the survey sample scored the maximum marks.

Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, said: "Organisations should not simply focus on increasing diversity but learn how to manage it better, in ways that address both organisational and personal needs. This requires more than minimal legal compliance. It requires an understanding about the inclusive nature of managing diversity and how to manage it effectively to add value to business performance.”

She called on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights needs to focus its attention on the issue of education, guidance and support, rather than simply policing legislation.

“Only through getting the message about the potential business benefits and improved understanding of the intrinsic relevance of diversity, will businesses speed up the rate of progress revealed by the CIPD research," Worman said.

The survey also showed that the support of senior management and top teams to be a critical factor, but only 42% of people with responsibility for diversity felt that their senior management encouraged diversity. Just 16% were positive they had senior management support.

"Those with responsibility for diversity cannot be expected to add value to business on their own. They need the support of senior managers and the board. By having more people, at senior levels with a responsibility for diversity, the pace of change and benefits to business will improve," Worman added.

Key findings:

* Large organisations are more sophisticated in their approach to diversity - 38% of large organisations achieved the highest levels of sophistication compared to just 11% of medium sized organisations and 3% of small organisations.

* Public sector organisations are more sophisticated than organisations in the private and voluntary sectors: only 7% of private sector organisations achieved the top scores amongst survey respondents, compared to 34% of public sector organisations and 18% of voluntary sector organisations.

* Legal pressures are the main driver of diversity (68% of survey respondents believe it is a key driver).

* Less than half of survey respondents ranked diversity as most important in helping to improve innovation and creativity and customer relations (43%) and just one-third rank responding to the competition in the market.

* 44% of survey respondents saw improving products and services as a key driver of diversity.

* 39% of survey respondents saw reaching diverse markets as a key driver of diversity.

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