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Employers told to avoid ineffective diversity initiatives

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Most employers in the UK are taking equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives without an evidence base, and some of their interventions are proving to be even counterproductive, according to a government report.

The independent Inclusion at Work Panel, appointed by the Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, reviewed how employers across various sectors are deciding about diversity and inclusion policies and practices.

The panel, comprising leaders in the private and public sectors, surveyed over 100 people representing 55 organisations drawn from the public, private, and charity sectors.

They found that many employers didn’t know the impact of their initiatives, while many others did not have access to data on EDI interventions that work to make an informed decision.

The study also found many employers are not using data to make EDI decisions and are misapplying certain legislations.

The report advocates that employers should make better use of evidence and data when making EDI decisions to increase fairness and opportunity.

They should avoid taking EDI initiatives that alienate certain groups, cause division, and have no impact.

The report found that in cases relating to positive discrimination and protected beliefs, EDI interventions are proving to be counterproductive or even unlawful.

Badenoch said, “This government wants to ensure employers are doing EDI in a way that doesn’t undermine meritocracy and aligns with our equality laws.”

This report lays out the evidence for good and bad EDI practice and it can empower employers to make fairer, more effective EDI decisions that represent proper value for money, she said.

The secretary hoped that businesses would study this report and try to build more inclusive and productive workplaces.

The Chair of the Panel, Pamela Dow, said a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey from 2022 found only 25 per cent of employers said they consult data before new inclusion and diversity activity is planned.

Around 25 per cent of those surveyed admitted that most of their EDI work is reactive – citing social and political events.

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