Diversity focus fizzles out in workplaces after peaking at start of Black Lives Matter movement

Saleha Riaz
·3 min read
Only 39% of UK professionals feel diversity and inclusion is a higher priority in UK workplaces directly as a result of Black Lives Matter movement, according to a study. Photo: Getty Images
Only 39% of UK professionals feel diversity and inclusion is a higher priority in UK workplaces directly as a result of Black Lives Matter movement, according to a study. Photo: Getty Images

Almost three in five (57%) BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) working professionals believe the momentum of diversity has fizzled out in their workplace since the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement kicked off last year, compared to three in 10 (30%) white working professionals, new data revealed.

Research commissioned by People Like Us, a non-profit, also found that only 39% of UK professionals feel diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a higher priority in UK workplaces directly as a result of BLM.

Thousands of people around the world took to the streets last year to protest against racism and to show unprecedented support of the BLM movement. In response, companies received fierce public backlash for saying that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ having seemingly not shown true commitment to fighting racial injustice.

Following that, companies across the world pledged money, launched programmes, and assessed what they need to do to bring about change. For instance, Citi (C) pledged $1bn (£790m) to battle racial inequality.

New data shows just 13% of people in the UK said their company actually hired more employees from BAME backgrounds and almost three in 10 (29%) employees said their company didn’t do anything in response to Black Lives Matter.

Meanwhile, two-thirds (67%) of London professionals say they feel D&I are a higher priority for their company now, but workers outside of London are over three times more likely to say that their workplace had done nothing in response to BLM.

Whilst almost half (49%) of working professionals feel a positive impact has been made in the workplace, “there is clearly much more work to be done,” the report said.

READ MORE: Black directors don't hold any top jobs in FTSE 100 firms

Of those companies that did take some action, the top three were making 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%).

The study also explored attitudes towards ethnicity pay gap. Over half (56%) of those who think ethnic pay gap reporting will be part of legislation in the future believe the BLM protests 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.

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-19, there have been less workers that say it’s a priority, including in manufacturing and utilities (21%), travel and transport (12%) and healthcare (32%).

Sheeraz Gulsher, co-founder of People Like Us, noted that BLM’s impact on the UK workforce, “while gradual, is hugely important in creating fairer opportunities. We must continue to hold companies accountable.”

Just last week it was reported that the number of black individuals at the top of Britain’s biggest companies has fallen to zero.

Research compiled by recruitment agency Green Park shows that for the first time since the firm started its analysis back in 2014, there are no black chairs, CEOs or CFOs in the FTSE100 (^FTSE).

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